BUGATTI HAS SMASHED THROUGH THE 300MPH BARRIER

Bugatti has officially become the first manufacturer to produce a road car that's capable of speeds in excess of 300mph.

It has been confirmed that a tuned Chiron hypercar, with British racing driver Andy Wallace at the wheel, hit a top speed of 304.77mph (490.47 km/h) at a test track in Germany on 2 August, beating the previous record by almost 27mph.

At that speed, the car is covering a staggering 136 metres per second - more than a football pitch. 

Stephan Winkelmann, the president of Bugatti, described the 300mph achievement as a 'milestone for eternity'.

The hypercar maker had previously held the top speed record for a road model between the years of 2005 and 2007 and again from 2010 to 2017.

On both those occasions it was the firm's previous-generation hypercar, the Veyron, that held the gong for the fastest model, but was dethroned two years ago by the Koenigsegg Agera RS, which had been clocked travelling at 277.87mph.

During measured runs at Volkswagen's - which now owns Bugatti - top-secret Ehra-Lessien test track north of Wolfsburg, the Chiron obliterated Koenigsegg's previous best by 26.9mph.

While a number of brands - including Hennessey, SSC and Koenigsegg itself with the new Jesko - have claimed their latest machines are capable of breaching 300mph, the prototype Chiron - a modified version of the £2.5million hypercar - is the first to register the landmark speed officially.

The world record speed, which is enough to travel the length of a football pitch in less than a second, has been verified by the TÜV - Germany’s Technical Inspection Association.

In a statement on the car maker's website, Winkelmann said: 'What a record! We're overjoyed to be the first manufacturer ever to have achieved a speed of more than 300 miles per hour. It’s a milestone for eternity. 

'I would like to thank the whole team and driver Andy Wallace for this outstanding performance.'

The achievement has been six months in the making.

Top Gear reported that Bugatti has been working with tyre manufacturer Michelin and chassis experts Dallara to create a vehicle capable of setting the record - both in terms of performance and safety.

Powering the car is the standard Chiron's eight-litre, quad-turbo W16 engine producing a staggering 1,578bhp - over 500mph more than Lewis Hamilton's current Mercedes Formula One car.

Also unchanged is the seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox and four-wheel drive system.

However, to make it pierce through the air with ultimate efficiency, the carbon-fibre body has been extended by another 25cm and a laser-assisted ride-height system has been incorporated so the car can sit as low to the road as possible without bottoming out during the record-setting speed runs. 

Another addition to improve performance is the shotgun-style tailpipes that have had to be extended to sit within the elongated body of the vehicle.

Bugatti also replaced the standard-model's active rear wing and air brake for a rigid spoiler that looks like a small lip at the end of the stretched rear deck.

Inside, the Chiron has been stripped of its elegant cabin to save weight and a full roll cage and safety seat installed to protect 58-year-old Wallace, who famously won the 1988 Le Mans 24 Hours in Jaguar's iconic XJR-9LM and is now Bugatti's test driver.

It's believed a limited edition longtail model featuring all the modifications will be sold in exclusive numbers alongside the standard Chiron - though likely for a significant premium on the £2.5m price tag. 

Speaking about the achievement, Wallace said: 'I think most people have been 150mph some time during their life. If you then add just another 30 to make it 180, that's a whole different world.

'Then when you get to 200 it's a lot faster than 180. So when you're talking about 300, it's a massive, massive step.'  

Winkelmann added: 'Bugatti has once again shown what it’s capable of.'

'With this new record of the Chiron we enter again uncharted territory. Never before has a series manufacturer reached this high speed.'