What is it?
The Veyron is, famously, the world’s fastest car. That was the Super Sport coupe model though, which has since been discontinued. Now, only the open-top Grand Sport remains on sale, with the big Bug effectively in the world’s most extravagant runout cycle. True to form, buyers haven’t had to put up with a piffling 1,001bhp for long. Now, Bugatti has announced the Grand Sport Vitesse (yes, like an old Rover, with similar range-topping aspirations), which revives the Super Sport’s 1,200bhp engine for a damned good crack at its 267mph top speed.
Everything else remains as it was though, as the pinnacle of megacorp VW Group’s engineering talent. Two seats, active aerodynamics – including a whopping airbrake – and four-wheel drive mean that the Veyron really can handle all that power. It’s an engineering marvel.
Easy. The Veyron is wide and low, but with the seven-speed paddleshift gearbox and genial power delivery, it’s about as frightening as an Audi TT to drive normally. It’s not until you really put your foot down that you realise quite how ballistic the Veyron really is: 0–62mph in 2.5 seconds, and more than 250mph top speed.
Even so, the most remarkable and admirable thing about the Veyron, particularly the Vitesse, is that all the power doesn’t actually fry your mind. It seems to live within the bounds of sanity. Well, more or less. Once you’ve driven one of these, everything else is just slow - yes, even other supercars.
On the inside
It’s not quite as mad as you might expect in the Veyron. It’s nice, but certainly doesn’t feel like a spaceship, and with the well laid-out controls and comfortable seating position, you could be in a GT car. Albeit a GT car with 922lb ft of torque that can run a quarter-mile in 10 seconds.
Pretty much everything is customer-led, so no two Veyrons are really the same, and it is by no means a stripped-out racer, with its sat nav and decent stereo, leather and electric everything. There’s the magic panel on the left of the driver, the slot where you insert the special key that allows ‘Top Speed Mode’, some 252mph in the Grand Sport. Unless you do that at rest, you’re limited to 220mph to protect the bespoke tyres. Pah.
Tyres are bespoke and £20,000-ish a set. Insurance companies flinch at the thought of a Bugatti: a basic car costs £1.1 million, with the Vitesse version to cost yet more. Look at it like this: Veyron ownership depends on international exchange rates. If you have to ask how many mpg you’ll get (under 10) and don’t know your broker by his first name, then you can’t afford it.