The 1,480-hp Bugatti Chiron Sport is one of the most impressive vehicles on Earth. The $3.5 million limited edition Les Légendes du Ciel version is even more exclusive. There's truly no other street-legal vehicle that can match it. So Bugatti decided to test its mettle against something really challenging—a Dassault Rafale Marine fighter jet.
Boasting the equivalent of 5,650 horsepower, the twin-engine Rafale Marine has been in the service of the French military since 2000. It can achieve a top speed of more than Mach 1.6, or around 1,230 mph, versus the Chiron Sport's top speed of 261 mph.
"The two high-technology products from France are at the top of their respective fields and stand for the technical progress made after decades of development work in automotive and aerospace engineering," Bugatti notes. The event was designed to see how they measure up in terms of acceleration, torque and braking behavior.
Bugatti notes it has "held close links with the aviation world for more than 110 years." Many of the most successful Bugatti race car drivers flew for the French Air Force at the beginning of the last century, while the legendary French aviator, Roland Garros, owned a Bugatti Type 18 "in order to be as fast on the ground as he was in the air." Company founder Ettore Bugatti also worked on developing an aircraft that would break speed records.
The Les Légendes du Ciel, limited to just 20 examples, is Bugatti's tribute to French aviation, and features matte grey Gris Serpent paintwork with the blue, white, and red French Tricolor on its carbon fiber side skirts. The bars of the radiator grille are made from laser-cut aluminum resembling planes in a flyby formation, while the natural leather interior evokes vintage airplane cockpits.
Off the mark, the Bugatti Chiron Sport took the lead thanks to its eye-popping acceleration, rocketing from 0 to 62 mph in just 2.4 seconds. Of course after several hundred feet the jet took off, leaving the Chiron Sport still on the runway, though gamely keeping pace.
“The Chiron Sport has incredible acceleration force which comes very close to that of the Rafale," noted Bugatti's test driver, while both he and the pilot cited the many similarities between the two. As Bugatti notes wryly, "the comparison of France’s top two technical systems was therefore declared a draw."