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Bugatti Veyron

So this is what a space shuttle launch feels like

Giancarlo Rosetti
Dec 27, 2005
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One thousand one horsepower will make anybody smile. Or is that g-forces pulling your cheeks back? Either way, you'll be grinning wide as the Bugatti Veyron's four turbos spool up and unleash nearly 1000 lb-ft of torque.

Pressing the starter button ignites a rumble of thunder from just over your right shoulder. Not a high revving V12 like your "average" exotic, but 8.0 liters of W16 power-that's right, sixteen cylinders-enhanced by the boost from four turbochargers. It burbles like Satan gargling gasoline. All 1001 bhp continues the hunt for traction through a seven-speed sequential manual gearbox that uses Audi's DSG twin-clutch technology that so rocks in the Audi TT. From there, it's on to a sophisticated all-wheel-drive setup. The algorithms needed to manage the throttle, turbos, diffs and transmission must number in the millions.

Pull back on the shifter or the right paddle on the steering column, and then prepare for launch. It won't give you all 1001 hp at take off-that would break $100,000 worth of parts in a heartbeat. But it feeds in power at an alarming rate, and with amazing smoothness. Zero to 60 takes just 2.5 seconds. That's more than a second quicker than an Enzo. And the Bug weighs over 4,000 pounds, equipped with every luxury goodie you can imagine.

When former VW boss Ferdinand Piech announced that he was bringing Bugatti back to life with a 1000-plus-horsepower, 250-mph road car, everyone thought he was nuts. No matter; the reborn Bug does exactly what he said it would do. Forget the Enzo, SLR McLaren and Maserati MC12. This is something way different, designed primarily as the ultimate road car, not a racecar with license plates. And by the way, it's quicker and faster than all of them, and more expensive by a bunch-about $1.2 million at current exchange rates.

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One hundred miles an hour feels like walking. One hundred fifty is fast, but still no biggie. At 175, you're moving, but it's so stable and without drama. The Veyron has front and rear diffusers, an aero-tuned undertray, a monster wing out back that raises and lowers as speed dictates, and an air brake to slow you down when you climb on the monster six-pot brakes. Even at 300 km/h-about 185 mph, where we ran out of road-the Bugatti's high-speed stability inspires confidence. I can only imagine the experience at 250, where the Veyron is getting about three miles to the gallon. And how cool is this: It requires a separate key to access the car's "top speed" suspension and aero settings.

As mind blowing as the speed is, what really punches your gut is how fast it gets there. With so much torque and seven gear ratios to choose from, power is available anywhere, any time. Mash the pedal at 100 mph and the g-loads tug at your guts. Second and third gear are particularly frightening... but in a good way. Yeah, it's got a nasty blind spot, but you can accelerate away from anything in your wake. The transmission is unbelievable, and makes all the other F1 style single-clutch paddle shifter jobs look lazy by comparison. The shifts are super quick, up or down, with none of the lag of the others.

The Veyron also sets new standards in terms of ride/handling balance. You'd expect this car to handle well, and it does. Turn-in is crisp, the steering is beautifully weighted, and it goes around corners with impressive neutrality, aided by the huge Michelin PAX tires, a well-programmed stability control system, and all-wheel drive. It doesn't feel as organic as the Enzo or MC12, but it sure works. And the ride is superb for this kind of car. No punishment involved, and hopefully the guys that buy Veyrons really will take them on the high-speed, cross-country flogs that they deserve.

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There's almost too much tech to list. The central part of the tub is carbon fiber, with aluminum substructures attached to it front and rear. Every inch of this car was designed just so, and finished to NASA standards. There's no glass over the engine either. It's just out there, to be seen, heard and enjoyed. The cabin's aluminum trim and leather befit super-luxury transport. We hear the audio system alone costs $30,000.

Bugatti will build 50 Veyrons a year for six years or so, an estimated maximum of 300 cars total. If you have the stones and the bones to pony up more than a million bucks for a car, and then take it out and drive it like you stole it. Your quest for hyperspace will be satisfied. With style.

Base Price: $1.2 million (est.)
Drivetrain Longitudinal mid-engine, all-wheel drive
Engine 8.0-liter W16, dohc, four valves per cylinder, quad turbocharged and intercooled
Transmission Seven-speed DSG
Suspension Independent double wishbones front and rear
Brakes Carbon-ceramic rotors
Dimensions Length x Width x Height (in.): 176 x 79 x 47
Wheelbase: 107 in.
Curb Weight: 4,162 lb
Peak Power:1001 bhp @ 6000 rpm
Peak Torque: 922 lb-ft @ 2200 rpm
0-62 mph: 2.5 sec.
0-124 mph: 7.3 sec.
Top Speed: 252 mph (est.)

By Giancarlo Rosetti
2 Articles



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