Summer’s arrived and so too has the world’s most exclusive convertible – the Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport is here for you
The Bugatti Veyron needs no introduction. It’s the car that changed the world in 2005 when VW finally tamed the eight-litre W16 engine pumping out 1001hp and proved the doubters wrong with a landmark of engineering. It’s still as fresh as the day it was born and now it just got better. Because now it comes al fresco.
OK so the removable hard top doesn’t fit in the luggage compartment and there’s a snazzy carbon-fibre umbrella to stick on top of the car when it rains, limiting the car to just 100mph. But that’s going to be just about the only criticism on this page.
That aside the Veyron retains its sledgehammer impact thanks to a design nobody dared copy. The bullshark nose isn’t conventionally pretty, but that and the muscular curves add up to a cohesive vision of power and the elegance lies in its simplicity.
Of course it’s gorgeous because it was made that way, but also because of what it represents. This is the ultimate road car, the daddy, the King of the Jungle, and Bugatti test driver Olivier Thevenin put it best. “You can drive past a supercar, any supercar, and you look at each other, and you know, and they know. You understand each other.”
Owning a Bugatti makes you the best, it makes your dad harder than everyone else’s and wins the Top Trumps scuffle every time out.
On a quiet backroad and with a quiet nod from Thevenin I floor the throttle, and life changes forever. The needle on that laugh riot of a power meter swings round to the full 1001hp with circus hammer intent and the whole car bolts forward.
Under the surface an array of limited slip diffs, Haldex clutches and four-wheel-drive battle with physics to stop that power simply planting the driver into the nearest tree, but from behind the wheel the car just launches at the horizon.The 60mph mark falls in 2.7s, 0.2s slower than the hard-top, 125mph slides past in 7.3 and it would have nailed 186mph in 16.7s without the slightest quiver.
The only way to know the sheer stupidity of what’s going on is the skin tightening on the neck and the stomach impacting on the seat. Straights just disappear and as soon as the sheer insanity starts to kick in, the horizon has arrived and it’s time to jump on the 400mm front ceramic brakes and send eyeballs careering towards the windscreen.
In the corners, too, this car is immense. Yes it weighs 1,990kg yet it corners with the grace and poise of an oversized Lotus Elise. It won’t oversteer, it’s just too graceful for that, but it will pummel the laws of nature and carry simply insane speeds through a bend, and that’s without engaging handling mode that raises the rear wing, drops the front and sends the car to a whole new level of mental.
Ride and Handling
There are lots of cars that can power beyond 200mph now, although the Veyron is still the daddy of the lot. But perhaps the most impressive part is the way it handles 5mph along the Porto Cervo harbour, the tight and winding streets of Olbia and the broken building sites that Sardinians call byways.
Comfortably in ‘D’, there’s no supercar lurches down the road in full view of a million people, no ridiculous engine complaints and the Veyron is every bit as comfy and easy to drive as a VW Golf. Even the engine barely whispers, instead there’s an assortment of electrical whines and whinnies, but nothing from the eight-litre W16 until you really let rip.
Veyrons tend to hit high mileage, because it really is a car that you can take to the shops. It won’t carry shopping, admittedly, but it will take you there with ease and this is a car that has covered continents and kept its occupants as fresh as well pampered daisies.
There aren’t 5,000 switches on the interior of the Veyron and in fact it’s remarkably clean. There aren’t even that many options – you go for the €400,000 Hermes leather, or you don’t.
That aside the carbon-fibre sports seats are more luxurious than most lounges, the perfect switchgear is totally unique and then there’s the DSG gearstick that makes everything from the promenade to pole position a cinch.
Of course for this price you’d expect perfection, and that is what you get – apart from a luggage compartment that could take a briefcase, at a stretch.
Economy and Safety
An eight-litre, quad turbocharged engine with 1001hp and 922lb/ft of torque just isn’t going to be economical – that’s a fact.
At full speed it returns 2.7mpg and less than 10 is par for the course, but then driven in higher gears on tickover it would return much better figures. But I didn’t, I just couldn’t, the temptation to plant the throttle, blat past a line of innocent bystanders and open up a porthole to a whole new world of time and space was just too tempting.
So it’s fair to say I was close to the 999g/km of CO2 emissions that are quoted for urban driving, which is enough to make a baby seal somewhere choke. As for safety, the Veyron lives up to VW’s exacting standards and is festooned with electronic saviours for when you do finally push the car beyond the limit.