Make no mistake, 200mph is at the limit of what man can do right now. Which is why the new Bugatti Veyron is worthy of some industrial strength genuflection. Because it can do 252mph. And that’s just mad — 252mph means that in straight and level flight this car is as near as makes no difference as fast as a Hawker Hurricane
You might point out at this juncture that the McLaren F1 could top 240mph, but at that speed it was pretty much out of control. And anyway it really isn’t in the same league as the Bugatti. In a drag race you could let the McLaren get to 120mph before setting off in the Veyron. And you’d still get to 200mph first. The Bugatti is way, way faster than anything else the roads have seen.
Of course, at £810,000, it is also jolly expensive, but when you look at the history of its development you’ll discover it’s rather more than just a car . . .
It all started when Ferdinand Piëch, the swivel-eyed former boss of Volkswagen, bought Bugatti and had someone design a concept car. “This,” he said, “is what the next Bugatti will look like.” And then, without consulting anyone, he went on. “And it vill have an engine that develops 1000 horsepower and it vill be capable of 400kph.”
His engineers were horrified. But they set to work anyway, mating two Audi V8s to create an 8 litre W16. Which was then garnished with four turbochargers. Needless to say, the end result produced about as much power as the earth’s core, which is fine. But somehow the giant had to be cooled, which is why the Veyron has no engine cover and why it has 10 — count them — 10 radiators. Then things got tricky because the power had to be harnessed.
From behind the wheel of a Veyron, France is the size of a small coconut. I cannot tell you how fast I crossed it the other day. Because you simply wouldn’t believe me. I also cannot tell you how good this car is. I just don’t have the vocabulary. I just end up stammering and dribbling and talking wide-eyed nonsense. And everyone thinks I’m on drugs.
This car cannot be judged in the same way that we judge other cars. It meets drive-by noise and emission regulations and it can be driven by someone whose only qualification is an ability to reverse round corners and do an emergency stop. So technically it is a car. And yet it just isn’t.
Other cars are small guesthouses on the front at Brighton and the Bugatti is the Burj Al Arab. It makes even the Enzo and the Porsche Carrera GT feel slow and pointless. It is a triumph for lunacy over common sense, a triumph for man over nature and a triumph for Volkswagen over absolutely every other car maker in the world.
Model Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Engine 7993cc, 16 cylinders in a W Power 1001bhp @ 6000rpm Torque 922 lb ft @ 2200rpm Transmission 7-speed DSG, manual and auto Fuel 11.7mpg (combined) CO2 574g/km Acceleration 0-62mph: 2.5sec Top speed 253mph Price £810,345 Rating Five stars Verdict Deserves 12 stars. Simply as good — and as fast — as it gets