Watch the SSC Tuatara hypercar accidentally throw down the gauntlet to Bugatti

Chris Davies - Jun 1, 2020, 9:46 am CDT
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Watch the SSC Tuatara hypercar accidentally throw down the gauntlet to Bugatti

SSC’s Tuatara was never going to be a slow hypercar: 1,750 horsepower makes that very unlikely, after all. Still, the American-made street-legal monster is already clocking up some surprises – even to its builders – ahead of the Bugatti rival’s release. Forget 0-60… the really interesting challenge for a new hypercar is 60-120 mph.

With its 5.9-liter twin-turbocharged V8 and 7-speed robotic manual transmission, the 2020 Tuatara certainly comes well-armed to the party. SSC North America hasn’t been forthcoming with 0-60 mph times yet, nor top speed for the car. Still, it’s expected to best 300 mph and take on the Bugatti Chiron direct.

Then again, that’s probably something you can expect with a starting price of around $1.3 million. Only 100 of the cars will actually be produced, and given some of the early numbers the team – formerly Shelby SuperCars Inc. – they’re likely to be appealing to speed fans.

SSC was running the Tuatara though a speed test recently, company founder Jerod Shelby told Top Gear, and inadvertently clocked up a huge achievement in performance. With the hypercar switched into Track Mode, for its most aggressive shifting, he was running the car up to 210 mph. In the process, the gearbox was clacking through second, third, and then fourth gear.

“I noticed, during those pulls, that I wasn’t feeling any indication of our rev-limiter kicking in at 8,500+rpm,” Shelby says. “So, when we got back to our facilities, we emailed the data logs off to our master tuner (a daily occurrence), and asked him to verify that the rev-limiter is still programmed to start kicking in lightly at 8,500+rpm.”

Turns out, when analyzed it was revealed that the Tuatara had done 60-120 mph in 2.5 seconds at its fastest.

Clearly, it’s too early to compare those numbers with any solid conclusions with what Bugatti is doing with the Chiron. An official speed test would require a lot more control over conditions, for instance, and external verification. Still, this inadvertent test definitely shows promise for when those official trials do take place.

Bugatti’s latest Chiron Pur Sport, for example, does 0-62 mph in 2.3 seconds, and 0-124 mph in 5.9 seconds. That suggests 62-124 mph takes the car 3.6 seconds.

How would that change if Bugatti had been tracking 60-120 mph instead? That’s something which remains to be seen: deliveries of the $3.6+ million hypercar aren’t expected to start until later this year, at which point it’ll be even more exclusive than the Tuatara with only 60 expected to be built. Plenty of questions still to answer, then, but exciting times for sure if you’re a hypercar fan.


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