September 4, 2016

This is the one you’ve been waiting for, the two greatest hypercars on the planet today. These are the money no object dream cars that the 1% take out once a month and pay more per mile than they would in a private jet. But, plus side, they  look awesome while they do it.

Bugatti has held the title of the world’s greatest hypercar for more than a decade and it expected to reign supreme for another 10 years with the soon to be launched Bugatti Chiron. This is VW’s Formula One car for the public road. It’s a crushing demonstration of technical superiority. That’s its job. It has to be the best.

A tiny Croatian company with just 150 employees has something to say about that, though. Rimac boss Mate Rimac has been dismissed as a lunatic, but he just kept going with the all-electric hypercar and now, finally, it’s here.

They both come with more than 1000bhp, they both cost more than $1 million, they’re both 200mph+ cars and they’re both automotive artworks.

The Bugatti relies on good old internal combustion, while the Rimac is all-electric. So which one is best?

Let’s find out.

Rimac Concept One vs Bugatti Chiron: USP

The Bugatti Chiron has one simple job. It has to be the best car in the world. It has to smash the opposition into the weeds.

It has to be the fastest and it has to be the most desirable. Nothing less will do.

That was always the core goal of the Bugatti project and the crack team of engineers at VW decided to stick with a petrol engine to do that after experimenting with a hybrid set-up. It’s a towering car, too, a benchmark for the rest of the world.

It’s fascinating that a car that is designed to be a technical demonstration by the VW Group has stuck with petrol power. But with a W16, 8-liter quad turbo it is such a crushing machine that you can see why they wanted to go with old school fuel.

The Rimac is different. It’s the first true electric hypercar and it had to set a new benchmark. It is also so boutique that the world kind of doubted that this tiny company could ever make it work. This is groundbreaking technology and before the Tesla Model S P100D was unleashed then it didn’t even need to be that fast.

It is, which is either good luck or good planning. Either way, the Rimac Concept One is the ultimate electric hypercar. That has got the world talking.

Rimac Concept One vs Bugatti Chiron: Design

When the Bugatti Veyron first appeared at the turn of the century, it was a revolutionary design that did justice to Bugatti legend and set a new benchmark all at the same time. It was curvaceous, bulbous even, but it’s smaller than it looks in pictures and is about the same size as a Ferrari 430.

It was unique, imposing and brutal. It was also a design revolution. So in some ways it makes sense, in another it’s a mild disappointment that the Chiron is an evolution of a concept that has been with us for 16 years now. That’s literally the only complaint we can level at this car.

It’s striated, muscular and every detail is bold, striking and perfect. The back end is challenging, design wise, even though that full width LED brake light is awesome. It’s just a mighty car.

The Rimac Concept One is a different animal. It’s dominated by that long bonnet, it looks lower even though there really isn’t much in it and it’s squarer, cleaner and simpler. It doesn’t look as special as the Chiron, but it is a more cohesive and less fussy design.

Honestly this one is purely subjective, we’re calling it a tie.

Rimac Concept One vs Bugatti Chiron: Interior

The Chiron is haute couture, it’s really that simple. The tech is all under the skin and the Veyron driving experience is all about simple elegance. The instrument binnacle and the internal structure is carbon-fiber, but it’s all clothed in perfectly stitched leather from cows that were brought up listening to classical music.

Every car spends three days in a light tunnel while engineers check for the slightest imperfection in the paint. It’s the same on the interior, everything is perfect. It’s modern materials, with old-school craftsmanship. The instruments has a swiss watch speedo surrounded by electronics.

The Bugatti doesn’t give you a world of options, either. Apart from the locked off top speed, the car is designed to just work without a wealth of modes. Yes, it has Sport mode, but it’s basically an automatic and really doesn’t need many switches.

In comparison, the Rimac One is a high tech paradise. There’s a touchscreen where you can adjust the car in all manner of ways, you can even trim the handling characteristics to your driving style. The instruments come on a different TFT screen. The pedal mechanisms are exposed to show some real mechanical concepts at work and it’s a wholly different philosophy. But in its own way, it’s just as impressive.

The Bugatti, though, is prettier.

Rimac Concept One vs Bugatti Chiron: Power

This one is a slam dunk for Bugatti. That titanic eight-liter engine with four turbos pumps out 1479bhp, which is simply insane. Then there’s the small matter of 1180lb/ft of torque to consider. That’s a lot too. While the Veyron boasted the same basic configuration, 95% of the Chiron’s powerplant is all-new.

There is a lingering thought that Bugatti should have gone for a new powerplant, because if it follows the development programme of the Veyron then we’re going to have an 1800bhp petrol-powered car in the Chiron’s lifetime. That’s just silly and Bugatti might have been better served opting for a new type of powerplant, with a smaller output, and building it up through a series of special editions as technology advanced.

Rimac is doing just that.  The all-electric hypercar comes with a motor at each wheel and they combine to push out 811kW, so 1088bhp. As electric motors tend to be torque heavy, the Rimac actually edges the battle with 1200lb/ft.

In any normal contest, it isn’t a contest. The Rimac will simply smash most cars when it comes to pure power output. But this isn’t a normal fight, it’s a clash of the titans, and the Bugatti wins on pure horsepower that shows up higher in the rev range.

Rimac, though, is already working on the next model. The Rimac Concept One S has 1384bhp and 1327lb/ft of torque. It’s only a prototype right now, but it’s almost like Rimac has an answer for the question Bugatti is asking right now.

Only time will tell if the Chiron has an answer for that.

Rimac Concept One vs Bugatti Chiron: Acceleration

Well, this is a tough one. Both cars are four-wheel-drive, both come with almost the same, ridiculous levels of torque and they’re separated by fractions.

The Bugatti Chiron 0-60mph time is a mindblowing 2.5s. The Rimac Concept One comes in just a fraction behind at 2.6s. Honestly, put these cars side-by-side and run the test 10 times and you’ll probably get an even split. Driver reaction time will make more difference than the cars themselves.

The Rimac gets to 125mph in 6.2s, while the Chiron gets there in 6.5s. The electric motors and all-wheel torque vectoring on the Rimac means it has the edge and can meter out the power more effectively low down the range.

It’s borderline insane to describe 125mph as low down the range, but the Veyron isn’t even at 50% at that speed.

The Bugatti Chiron 0-185mph time is just 13.6s, some trucks won’t get to 60mph in that time. The Rimac isn’t a truck, but even it will lose ground at this point, hitting 185mph in 14.2s. So the Bugatti edges this one, but Rimac could have a word about that with its upcoming special edition.

Rimac Concept One vs Bugatti Chiron: Top speed

This is simultaneously the most important and most pointless comparison between the two cars. It’s pointless because you just can’t do these speeds, anywhere.

It’s important, because it establishes the pecking order. The fastest car is the Alpha dog, the apex predator, it’s that simple. And it’s the Bugatti Chiron by a country mile.

Maybe the Rimac could go faster and the figures for the S suggest that it can. But right now, it won’t. This is a 221mph car, which is enough to wipe the floor with most cars. It will chew them up and spit them out. But the Bugatti is in another league altogether.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the Chiron is that Bugatti is quoting a lower top speed than it achieved with the final edition Veyrons, which had 1250bhp. That, though, was a low drag shape and the Chiron has aerodynamic features that seem almost designed to slow it down.

Those elegant buttressed vents at the side are a high speed airbrake, the deep cut front end simply isn’t as slippy as the old car and even those upright, LED lights will make a difference.

So the ultimate Veyron hit 268mph on a record run and the Chiron will do 7mph less, according to Bugatti. It could be sandbagging. The car could go faster and Bugatti tends to be conservative. The speedo also goes up to 310mph, which is an intriguing and unusual number. But we can only quote the numbers we see and, right now, that is 261mph.

We’re sure this means that Bugatti will wind the car up over its lifespan to raise the bar on the production car speed record at some point.

Rimac Concept One vs Bugatti Chiron: Practicality and Economy

The Rimac Concept One comes with an 82kWh battery pack and will allegedly take you 310 miles between charges. That’s almost as much as the new Tesla Model S P100D and you wouldn’t do huge journeys in the Rimac, it just isn’t that kind of car. Most hypercars do less than 5000 miles a year.

So you can rest assured it won’t leave you stranded in front of your friends when you need it.

Bugatti targeted 14mpg for the Chiron. With the throttle flattened, the Veyron emptied its 26-gallon tank in 12 minutes and we’re expecting a similar result with the Chiron.

Rimac Concept One vs Bugatti Chiron: Price

When things get to this level, we’re not sure if the cheapest car is the winner or not. Some people just want to spend exorbitant money to prove just how rich they are.

They will actually get a kick out of telling their friends that their car cost $2.6 million. If that figure doesn’t melt your head, then think about the average $250,000 of optional extras that buyers opt for. If you go for the Hermes interior leather, then you’ll spend more than $400,000 on that alone.

Comparatively, the Rimac seems positively reasonable at $1 million. You could buy two of them, and a few Teslas, for the price of the Bugatti.

Rimac hasn’t publicised a specific options list. But it makes cars in such limited numbers then it’s safe to assume the Croatian company can do what you want and the only limit is your imagination and your budget.

Rimac Concept One vs Bugatti Chiron: Exclusivity

When cars get this rare, it can ruin an owner’s day to see another. It really is like that in these rarefied circles. As Ultra High Net Worth Individuals tend to hang out together, that’s a more common problem than it sounds.

Bugatti claims it will make 500 Chirons and 200 are already sold. One thing that clouds the issue is that certain clients tend to buy more than one, in different colors, and one person has already bought six. That’s more than $15 million on one model of car, before you touch the options list. It’s a different world…

Rimac, though, wins this war. It only intends to make eight of this model and six are already sold. That means there’s a slim chance there’s another one in your country and there’s almost no chance of seeing one coming the other way.

Of course, Rimac has already set to work on the faster S, but Bugatti pulled the same trick with the Veyron and will do so with the Chiron. So the Rimac will always make the Chiron look common or garden.

Conclusion

Bugatti has been the Great White Shark of the motoring world for more than a decade. It still is, but the Rimac runs it uncomfortably close. Bugatti’s whole reason to be is to smash the whole motoring world underneath its perfectly tailored shoe and it just cannot do that here. The Rimac is almost as fast, almost as pretty and it’s zero emissions.

Nobody in this price bracket cares about saving money on fuel, but they do care about cutting edge technology. It matters that they can adopt a puritanical attitude and explain how their car is green, probably while they greenlight the redevelopment of hectares of rainforest into luxury apartments.

The Rimac’s USP is just better, and even though it is second best it is closing the gap. It already has a more powerful model on the way, Bugatti will respond and this one is going to get serious.

This war, and that’s what it is, is far from over.

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