Overkill, over-the-top, too much is not enough. How else does one describe the 2007 Bugatti Veyron 16.4? An exotic sports car so powerful, so fast and so expensive that it makes a Lamborghini Murcielago look entry-level. With 1,001 horsepower, a 252 mph top speed and a $1.5 million price tag, the Veyron is not only the stuff that 14-to-44-year-old boys dream about, it's a testament to what automotive engineers and designers can do, provided they've got a budget full of blank checks to work with. As Bugatti is owned by Volkswagen (which bought the rights to the storied marque back in 1998), that was not a problem.
With its prodigious specifications, the Bugatti Veyron's "form follows function" design is not handsome in the way a Ferrari is, though there's no denying that it has presence. With its wide and stocky Bulldog-like stance, the Veyron looks massive. In one sense it is -- it weighs more than 2 tons. Yet in other ways, it' not -- it's actually slightly shorter than a Porsche 911. Although it uses plenty of lightweight materials, the Veyron's heft is virtually unavoidable, given its quad-turbocharged 16-cylinder engine, all-wheel-drive system and various other performance, luxury and safety features.
Taking center stage in the Veyron show is the car's quad-turbo 8.0-liter W16 engine. The "16.4" part of the car's name refers to the number of cylinders and turbochargers, respectively. Mounted amidships, this sweet 16 announces its presence visually via a pair of alloy air intake tubes that rise up to the roof. Official output is listed at 1,001 hp and 922 pound-feet of torque. A seven-speed automated-clutch manual gearbox sends this Herculean power to all four wheels in a 30/70 front-to-rear percentage split.
Providing buying advice on the 2007 Bugatti Veyron is like trying to tell someone why or why they shouldn't consider buying a Monet. The reality is that few folks will even see one of these examples of kinetic art, let alone drive or own one. Those lucky enough to get behind the wheel describe the experience as astonishing, yet so polished as to be somewhat lacking in emotion. Still, few cars have made such an impact on the automotive marketplace. The Veyron is at once absurd and awesome.
The 2007 Bugatti Veyron 16.4 exotic sports car comes only in coupe form. A two-tone paint scheme highlights the hood line and side intakes. Tires and wheels are exclusive to the Veyron. Developed by Michelin to handle the car's ultra-high speed, these run-flats are roughly 20 inches in front and 21 inches in back and put down a 265mm footprint up front and 365mm out back. The chassis also features F1-style carbon ceramic disc brakes and a double-wishbone suspension fore and aft, with electronically controlled dampers and height adjustment.
Inside, one will find a two-tone leather interior, heated sport or comfort seats, an eight-speaker audio system with a CD player, a navigation system that displays its information in the rearview mirror, and hands-free cell phone connectivity.
The Veyron's cabin is quite luxurious thanks to its leather upholstery and special aluminum trim that's used for the center stack, steering wheel and other controls. In the gauge cluster is a "power gauge" that gives a real-time indication as to how much horsepower the Veyron is making. Due to its high beltline and a low seating position, one can feel a little claustrophobic, though interior measurements are in fact quite roomy. Outward forward visibility is noticeably poor due to the car's very thick A-pillars.
The Veyron is powered by a mid-mounted 8.0-liter W16 with four turbochargers. Rated at 1,001 hp and 922 lb-ft of torque, it is the most powerful engine fitted to a production car. Power is sent to all four wheels through an exclusive seven-speed sequential-shift manual gearbox. The transmission has two automatic modes or can be shifted via steering-wheel-mounted paddles.
Published road tests have indicated that the Veyron takes less than 3 seconds to reach 60 mph and can hit 100 in just 5.5 ticks of the stopwatch. Bugatti claims top speed is 252 mph, but that's only allowed in a special mode activated via a separate key. Normally, top speed is limited to a (mere) 233 mph.
No qualifiers or asterisks here -- the 2007 Bugatti Veyron is simply the quickest and fastest production car on the planet. Thanks to all-wheel drive, the Bugatti Veyron is capable of applying nearly all of the W16's power to the ground, rather than burning it up in pointless wheelspin.
Those who have driven the Veyron report that acceleration is otherworldly, even when measured against other exotic supercars. And superbike-level acceleration isn't the Veyron's only trick. Handling is very composed and the car feels surprisingly agile given its curb weight of nearly 4,200 pounds. The only thing lacking -- and this is more of an esoteric issue -- is emotional involvement. Designed to perfection, the Veyron doesn't quite generate the raw, visceral appeal that other, more hard-edged exotics might.
There are no side or side curtain airbags in the Veyron, only the government-mandated front airbags. Stability control, traction control and antilock carbon ceramic disc brakes are standard.
Introduced last year, the king of all supercars, the Bugatti Veyron, rolls into 2007 unchanged.