The Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse is the world’s fastest – and most expensive – open-topped car.
At the heart of this machine, which is priced from a cool £1.4m plus taxes, lies the same 8.0-litre W16 engine, complete with four turbochargers, that can be found in the closed-top Super Sport version of the Veyron.
Maximum power of 1183bhp is developed at 6400rpm and torque hits an astonishing 1106lb ft. Mated to a seven-speed, dual-clutch gearbox, drive is delivered to all four wheels by a Haldex system.
At peak acceleration that means it’ll hit 1.4g, about the same force you feel when you slam on the brakes in an everyday car, and 62mph will appear in 2.6sec, 124mph in 7.4sec and 186mph in 16.0sec. It’s worth noting, though, that the 0-62mph time is slower than the standard car’s, as the larger turbos take time to wind up and deliver the extra power and torque. Get them in full swing and, with the space and right road or track you’ll cover a quarter of a mile in 10.0sec and a full mile in 25sec.
Should you need to stop in a hurry the ceramic brakes (400mm front, 380mm back) won’t disappoint: they’ll pull 2.0g, hauling you from 62mph to a halt in 31.4m. Or to put it another way, if you can find somewhere suitable to try it, you can go from a standstill to 62mph to a standstill again in just 5.9sec (or from 0-200-0mph in 27.1sec).
However, lest you be lulled into thinking this car is no more than an engineering statisticians dream, let’s leave the numbers there.
Climb aboard and the first thing you notice is that the bucket seats are set reassuringly low and are brilliantly supportive. Look ahead, and your eye is drawn to the exquisite controls and instruments, and especially the centre console, which is made from carbonfibre and titanium.
The engine roars in to life with a pleasant, engaging tone, although it is nowhere near as raw as the numbers may suggest. Roof off, spoiler up, it delivers a note you can always enjoy without it ever feeling like it is intruding. The turbos whoop and woosh rather like you’d imagine an angry dragon too, but never with anything approaching ferocity. Even so, there’s no question it can set the hairs on your neck upwards is you feel inclined to drop a gear or two and go.
That’s a theme that rings true for pretty much the whole experience of driving a Veyron – it is thrilling, but not daunting, encouraging, not overwhelming. Sure, even in ‘normal’ mode (their name for it, not ours – very few people would describe anything about this car as normal) it accelerates on and on if you ask it to (all the too around 235mph before the torque delivery levels out), but although it is undoubtedly very fast, the power and torque are delivered in a largely undramatic way. Pedal feel under braking, too, is exquisite.