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I drove the fastest car in the world...and it ruined me

  • It's easy to gush about a car that's the fastest and most powerful production car on the planet.
  • The Bugatti Chiron is also the most expensive: around $3 million.
  • This car has 1,479 horsepower coming from a 16-cylinder quad-turbocharged monster of an engine.

The new Bugatti Chiron should have a large red warning light in the center of the steering wheel.

It wouldn't be an alert for speed — though the Chiron will no doubt prove it's the fastest production car on the planet in upcoming speed tests, likely topping 270 mph.

And it wouldn't be an alert for braking or skidding or loss of control, because the new Chiron's braking and steering systems are so beautifully engineered and intelligent, owed to its electronic algorithms, that the car always holds the road with supreme confidence.

No — the alert on the Chiron would read "spoil." As in, once you sit behind the wheel of Bugatti's latest creation, and give the accelerator its first hard push, every other supercar you will ever be lucky enough to drive will feel, well, a little less than a Chiron.

The Chiron, in short, will ruin you.

Of course, it's easy to gush about a car that is not only the fastest and most powerful production car on the planet, but also the most expensive price tag: around $3 million. Add in the options that your typical billionaire would want — like carbon fiber and monograms — and you're talking close to $3.5 million. You could buy a dozen Ferrari 488-GTB's for less money.

Robert Frank test drives a Bugatti.
CNBC
Robert Frank test drives a Bugatti.

Most of the billionaires who buy the Chiron (and they are almost all billionaires, with an average of three jets and a yacht) are paying for power they will never be able to use. This is a car with 1,479 horsepower coming from a 16-cylinder quad-turbocharged monster of an engine.

When I asked Bugatti how many of their drivers have actually taken their Bugatti Veyrons (their previous model) out to a track and done 260 mph, the answer was "well not many."

But status for today's rich is about what a car can do — not what it does. And what the Chiron does, even at a mere 100 mph, is take engineering to a true art form.

Imagine sitting in the finest hand-stitched Italian leather seat, holding the leather and carbon fiber steering wheel and gazing at the dash controls that look more like pieces of jewelry than dials. Now imagine having a jet engine strapped to the back of the seat and hitting launch.

Robert Frank test drives a Bugatti Chiron.
CNBC
Robert Frank test drives a Bugatti Chiron.

Accelerating from zero to 60 mph in 2.5 seconds, or in my case from 30 mph to a what I can only describe as "tree-blur speed" feels like one of those theme park gravity rides, but horizontal. It is both thrilling and comforting because no matter how fast you accelerate or drive, the Chiron just grips the road tighter and makes you feel more in control.

It's a car that says "It's OK, I've got your back."

I took a Chiron out with Bugatti's professional driver Butch Leitzinger on the scenic backroads of Connecticut this summer for CNBC's "Secret Lives of the Super Rich." Even though Butch has been driving Bugattis for years, and driving the Chiron since it was first released, he still erupts into peals of laughter when he punches the accelerator.

"It's like being a kid again, every time," he said.

And yet, with all of its engine power, with all of its superlatives and price and flash, the Bugatti Chiron is an easy and plush car to just drive around town. It's quieter than the Veyron, thanks to some amazing new soundproof glass. The seats, the sound system, air conditioning and dashboard all make the Chiron — dare I say it — a comfortable, plush daily driver. Provided you want to use your $3 million road-rocket to buy milk at the store.

Most supercars require a confident, highly skilled driver. The Chiron GIVES you confidence, and coaxes you to push a little more, all while feeling in full control.

It's this feeling — of being cradled in the most advanced, expensive and creative auto engineering on the planet — that makes the Chiron such a spoiler. Drive it at your own risk.

Watch CNBC's "Secret Lives of the Super Rich" Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT.

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