Bugatti’s new Chiron Sport has 300 more hp than the brand’s Veyron Super Sport, an ex-title holder.

GENEVA — The competition to build the world’s fastest road-legal car is something of a friendly rivalry, but a rivalry nonetheless.

Last month at the Geneva auto show, the Bugatti stand was across from Koenigsegg, which snatched the top-speed mark from Hennessey Special Vehicles, just 100 yards down the hall — which itself had unseated Bugatti in 2014.

For the record, a Bugatti Veyron Super Sport reached 267.8 mph in July 2010. That mark lasted until February 2014, when a Hennessey Venom GT touched 270.49 mph. A Koenigsegg Agera RS captured the crown last November with a run of 277.87.

Von Koenigsegg: Enjoying record run in Nevada

To hear Koenigsegg tell it, the record run in Nevada was something of a fluke. “We actually had no plans to do this,” said Steven Wade, a Koenigsegg spokesman. “It was proposed by the owner of the car. He had the will and the ability to have the section of highway closed. But we’re certainly glad that it’s happened.”

Hennessey doesn’t plan to let Christian von Koenigsegg enjoy his perch for long. John Hennessey showed the Venom F5, the Texas supertuner’s first in-house hypercar (the Venom GT was very loosely based on the Lotus Exige/Elise — with a 1,200-hp Hennessey V-8 stuffed in the middle). “We believe that the F5 will be … pretty fast,” Hennessey said. “Our engineers and computer simulations say that 300 miles per hour is a potential, and we want to see if we can make that happen in real life.”

Koenigsegg’s Agera RS captured the straight-line speed crown in November.

The F5 ups the horsepower ante to more than 1,600. It has a list price of $1.6 million, but half of the 24 planned examples have already been spoken for, with six more pending orders.

Bugatti’s latest effort is the $3.25 million Chiron Sport, with weight-saving goodies such as carbon fiber windshield wipers. Bugatti hasn’t said it will try to retake the top-speed title, but the Chiron Sport’s 16-cylinder, four-turbocharger engine has 300 more hp than the 1,200-hp record-setting Veyron Super Sport — and an even-more-potent Super Sport version is reported to be in the works.


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Top speed is not a priority under new President Stephan Winkelmann, a spokeswoman said. Still, the Chiron Sport is speed-restricted to 261 mph, which suggests there’s plenty more on tap if Bugatti’s priorities shift again.

For its part, Koenigsegg highlighted a used car in Geneva — a reconditioned 2006 CCX in an unusual right-hand-drive version — because the Agera and Regera, the Swedish company’s more grand-touring focused model, have been sold out since last year. The CCX was sold during the show for a price close to that of a new Agera, or about $1.6 million, Wade said. “Certainly, the record in November has helped us in terms of reputation,” he said.

Koenigsegg’s replacement for the Agera as a straight-line missile most likely will be shown as a concept at the 2019 Geneva show, Wade said.

All three manufacturers profess to a mutual respect. “We have a friendly rivalry,” Hennessey said. “The way we view it, whether it’s the Koenigsegg guys or the Bugatti guys, we all want to push each other.”

Hennessey will chase the speed record with its Venom F5, powered by an 8.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 that delivers 1,600 hp.

Still, bragging rights are at stake. Bugatti proudly notes that the Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse holds the record for a roadster, at 254 mph (a record that Hennessey also claims for a Venom GT with its top removed), and the home page of the Koenigsegg website proclaims the Agera RS as “the fastest car in the world.”

“We respect what other hypercar brands do,” said Manuela Hoehne, the Bugatti spokeswoman. “However, we clearly differentiate ourselves from them by what we do and how we do it.” The Chiron is aiming for the highest possible standards in luxury and driveability as well as maximum acceleration and speed, she said.

Hennessey: It’s a “friendly rivalry.”

Wade said, “We do have a healthy respect for what John Hennessey does with his vehicles,” although Wade noted that the record-setting Venom GT was homologated as a Lotus rather than as a Hennessey, while Koenigsegg crash- and emissions-tested its own cars.

Hennessey said safety and emissions testing for the Venom RS — as a Hennessey — would be conducted over the next 18 months, with the first cars reaching customers in markets around the world later in 2019.

“We’ll begin high-speed validation in 2019,” he said. “There’s no promise of breaking any records, but during the course of testing, if we happen to set some sort of record, then great.”