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Sitting inside Bugatti’s $3M Chiron Sport didn’t make me a better person

The only way you can be more extravagant in your attention seeking would be to run for president

The Bugatti Chiron Sport costs some stupid amount of money north of $3 million. The only people who might care about the precise figure are the accountants at the Volkswagen Group, Bugatti’s parent company. Those who can afford the Chiron Sport don’t trouble themselves with how millions are rounded, and the other 99.99 percent of us will never be so fortunate as to have to seriously consider buying this instead of, say, multiple mansions. The Chiron Sport, like the rest of Bugatti’s historic lineup, is the automotive equivalent of unicorn breeding.

At the Geneva Motor Show, I got to pet the latest Bugatti unicorn, which was clad in a regal red-and-black outfit. Thanks to a diehard Verge fan on the Bugatti staff, I even got to step inside for a few minutes, and this is my account of what that most exclusive of experiences was like.

First of all, brand new luxury cars all have one universal smell: fresh leather. Meticulous hand stitching, perfectly color-matched to the exterior red punctuates a dark, thick leather interior. In fact, everything feels and looks extra thick, from the leather’s musk and texture to the stubby steering wheel and the controls around it. My guess is that when you’re driving this speed demon at 260 mph (on a track and under controlled conditions, obviously), the absence of small sharp objects on its inside is probably reassuring. I don’t know, I’m just here to see if I can feel anything resembling $3 million.

It’s a futile endeavor, of course, as I know very well from the times I’ve been in supercars in motion. The point is in how they make you feel when they move, not the vibe they exude while stationary. And yet, if the simple joys of speed were all that mattered, there is a gorgeous selection of Lamborghinis, Porsches, and McLarens strewn across the Geneva show floor, each costing a fraction of the Chiron Sport’s asking price.

No. Buying a Bugatti is about more than mere speed and performance. And it’s honestly about more than just luxury — because, yes, the leather feels reassuringly expensive, and there are pieces of matching hand luggage that are probably tens of thousands of dollars each, but even a fully kitted-out Rolls-Royce would struggle to reach the Chiron’s price.

The Bugatti is about attention seeking. At its most extreme and extravagant, yes, but it ultimately boils down to the same behavior that pushes me to try harder at sports when there’s an audience. We all like to be liked and admired.

What I felt when I was inside the cocoon of the Chiron Sport were the eyes of everyone around me. Crowds of various sizes were ebbing and flowing around this new supercar all day, and once there was a human behind the wheel, people were understandably intrigued. Bugatti wasn’t letting most people even touch the car, yet there I was thumbing the steering wheel and teasing MKBHD with photos from the interior.

It didn’t matter that the curious onlookers were attracted by the car and not me. The sense of attention was still there — and while I personally found it uncomfortable and awkward, I can understand how someone that craves people’s attention would get a rush out of the whole thing. A Bugatti is, and always will be, rare enough to be a highlight in most people’s day, and the intoxicating knowledge of that fact is what drives people to acquire something like a Chiron Sport.

Of course, the sickeningly beautiful rouge et noir paint job doesn’t hurt either.

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