The Bugatti Chiron Sky View Just Showed Us What It’s Like to Ride on the Tip of a Missile
On a recent test-drive, we discovered how the addition of two glass panels opens up another dimension to the hypercar.
Our test chariot arrived towards the end of The Quail, a Motorsports Gathering. A trio of snarling Ferrari F50s ripped away from the parking lot to reveal a shimmering, all-white Chiron Sky View lurking, a grinning Butch Leitzinger behind the wheel. Leitzinger is a former professional endurance racer who’s notched two class victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans (in a Bentley EXP Speed 8) and a three-time 24 Hour of Daytona champion. Leitzinger now works as a Bugatti testing and development pilot.
He explains that the roof of carbon-fibre monocoque employed in the Chiron was designed from the beginning to accommodate the addition of the glass panes. “Bugatti originally wanted removable panels, but engineers ultimately realized that wouldn’t work,” he shares as we inch our way through the bumper-to-bumper traffic during Monterey Car Week. “There were structural integrity issues, given the speeds the car achieves, so full removal of these panels was too challenging.”
The Chiron is a delight to drive, chock with gobs of power that await your unleashing. The accompanying whirs and wheezing from the quartet of turbos add an unrivalled acoustic element to the experience, and it’s easy to giddily mat and lift the throttle pedal to loop the intoxicating soundtrack. Firing over the sinewy Larueles Grade road, opportunities to hammer through some curves arise and the Chiron laps up each turn. “This is the best steering I’ve ever felt in a car,” Leitzinger notes, adding that he worked extensively on developing the electronic assist for the steering with Bugatti’s head of engineering. “Normally, power assist robs you of road feel, but with this, you can get an actual feel. You get all the communication you want but the computer filters out all the noise you don’t. It’s a perfect set up.” No arguments here.
Rocketing along the dreamy mountain road, I was acutely aware of the different sensation driving the Sky View offers compared to the regular Chiron. In the full hard-top, you’ve got a sense that peering out of the windscreen is like a helmet visor; the narrow-ish field of view here helps to heighten the (likely excessive) speeds you’re realizing. The openness of the Sky View makes you feel like you’re sitting on the tip of a launched missile. No matter where you glance, you see something streaking by. If any downside of the Sky View exists, it’s only that electronically controlled glass wasn’t utilized, as found in certain Mercedes-Benz and McLaren models. The ability to go from translucent to opaque with the press of a button would be a nice inclusion.
Leitzinger has logged some 48,000 kilometres behind the wheels of various Bugattis. My distance behind the wheel of the Chiron Sky View clocks in somewhere around 80 kilometres. What I wouldn’t give to have 47,920 more.