Non-car people will often roll their eyes when a friend buys something like a Porsche, Corvette or Hummer. How useful are these cars in the real world, they say? Well, it's a good thing these people probably don't know anybody who bought a 2008 Bugatti Veyron 16.4. That's because there just aren't many public roads in the world, or racetracks for that matter, on which doing 253 mph -- the Veyron's stratospheric top speed -- is a feasible proposition. But rationality, it seems, has little to do with owning the world's quickest and fastest production car ever.
The Veyron is undeniably a breed apart from even the most exotic sports cars on the road today. A herculean herd of 1,001 horses is available courtesy of parent company Volkswagen's one-of-a-kind 8.0-liter quad-turbocharged W16 engine. For good measure, there are 922 pound-feet of torque available from 2,200 rpm onward. This mid-mounted power plant -- which could be described as being two narrow-angle V8 blocks fused together in a W pattern -- is far and away the most powerful stock engine available in a road-going car at present. And what does one do with all this power? Well, the British magazine and TV show "Top Gear" pitted a Veyron against a fighter jet in a 2-mile speed test. You'll find the winner on YouTubeÂ…
Nonetheless, in the world of high performance, lighter is almost always better, which is why Bugatti created the ultra-exclusive Veyron Pur Sang for 2008. The Pur Sang is a paintless carbon-and-aluminum rendition of the Veyron's curvaceous figure -- and for this pleasure Bugatti adds more than an extra $500,000 to the car's price. Interested? Tough luck, we're afraid. All five 2008 Veyron Pur Sangs have reportedly been spoken for since September 2007.
To be clear, there's more to the Veyron than its otherworldly engine. In return for their $1.5 million investments, buyers are also treated to a luxurious if somewhat claustrophobic interior, as well as adroit handling that nicely complements the W16's locomotive-like thrust. But at the end of the day, the 2008 Bugatti Veyron 16.4 is all about the unshakable sense of absolute power that every fortunate owner will enjoy. It's a psychological gift that keeps on giving -- even when the local airstrip isn't available for drag-racing a fighter jet down the runway.
The 2008 Bugatti Veyron 16.4 is an exotic sports car available only in coupe form. The model lineup consists of two trim levels for 2008: base and Pur Sang. The base model receives a customizable two-tone paint scheme as well as exclusive wheels -- 20 inches in front, 21 inches out back Â– and massive Michelin run-flat tires specifically designed to handle the car's unprecedented swiftness. Also standard are carbon ceramic disc brakes and a height-adjustable suspension that features double wishbones front and rear and electronically controlled dampers. Interior accoutrements include two-tone leather upholstery, heated sport seats, automatic climate control, a 400-watt CD sound system, a navigation system with a rearview-mirror display and hands-free cell-phone connectivity.
The Pur Sang ("pure bred") model features an unpainted aluminum and carbon-fiber exterior. The same materials grace the cabin as well, which not only adds aesthetic flair but reduces the car's curb weight by a couple hundred pounds as well. The Pur Sang also sports monotone leather upholstery instead of the base model's two-tone treatment.
As one might expect in a $1.5 million car, the Veyron's cabin is pretty fancy. The leather upholstery is opulent and omnipresent, and extensive aluminum trim adorns the center stack, steering wheel and other controls. The gauge cluster features a somewhat gimmicky "power gauge" that supposedly displays real-time horsepower production. The Veyron's bathtub-like high beltline, obtrusively thick A-pillars and low seating position don't bolster its credentials as a driver's car, but there's a lot of room in there, even for taller folks.
The 2008 Bugatti Veyron 16.4 is propelled by a mid-mounted and quad-turbo 8.0-liter W16 engine. Its 1,001 hp and 922 lb-ft of torque are delivered to all four wheels via a beefed-up seven-speed version of VW/Audi's excellent dual-clutch sequential gearbox (DSG). The transmission has two automatic modes -- normal and Sport -- and may also be shifted manually via paddles on the steering wheel.
Published reports consistently have the Veyron hitting 60 mph from rest in under 3 seconds, and the car will attain extralegal velocities at a similarly dizzying rate. That 253-mph top speed must be enabled via a separate key, however; otherwise, the Veyron is limited to a mere 233 mph.
The 2008 Bugatti Veyron 16.4 is so fast that it needs an eponymous adjective. We're thinking "Veyronish," or perhaps "Veyronic." Trouble is, only the Veyron itself currently fits that description. In a straight line, no other four-wheeled conveyance can touch it. What's more, the Veyron's handling is nearly as impressive, no mean feat given its considerable heft. The only thing lacking -- and this is more of an esoteric issue -- is a lack of emotional involvement. Designed to perfection, the Veyron doesn't quite generate the visceral appeal that otherwise might come about in cars like the Ferrari F430 or Porsche 911 GT3 RS that take a more raw and hard-edged approach to performance.
There are no side or side curtain airbags in the Veyron -- just the bare minimum front airbags, as mandated by the government. Stability control, traction control and antilock carbon ceramic disc brakes are standard.
For those who aren't fazed by the Veyron's $1.5 million price of entry, Bugatti offers the (very) limited-production Pur Sang edition for 2008 at a cool $2.0 million.