There’s something rather sad and predictable and even a bit ridiculous about the idea of a new, even faster, even more expensive replacement for the Bugatti Veyron.
It’s as if the board at VW – and one person on that board in particular – absolutely refuses to let it rest, despite the fact that the car world has quite clearly demonstrated that it isn’t interested in a 270mph gentleman’s club on wheels. And when I say interested, I mean interested in buying.
The likes of you and are I surely thought the original idea for the Veyron was lip-smacking delicious, did we not. And I for one will never, ever forget the day I first drove one on the car’s launch in Sicily. It was, and remains, one of the most extraordinary experiences I’ve ever had on four wheels.
But since then, the Veyron story has gradually unraveled and lost its dignity. Why? Because Bugatti couldn’t find enough buyers for the car, basically. People bought them (very, very rich people admittedly), but then those same people found that they didn’t really use it enough. And then, invariably, they sold. Rumour has it that less than 50 individuals have ever owned a Veyron.
The end result has been a series of different versions, each slightly better than the next, each slightly faster and so on. And gradually the car’s currency has been eroded.
Eventually, even us car nuts began to get ever so slightly bored with Bugatti producing yet another version. It’s still uncertain even today whether the good people from Molsheim have managed to sell all 350 Veyrons that they said they were going to sell, way back on that launch in Sicily in 2005.
Which is what I mean when I say that the car world – the one that buys, not the one that merely dreams about – has demonstrated that it isn’t interested in a 270mph gentlemen’s club on wheels.
Bugatti’s answer? A 286mph, 1479bhp gentlemen’s club on wheels. This time with hybrid propulsion to give it that extra bit of edge where it counts, with a nod to the ecologists at the same time. Genius. Or perhaps not.
Mr Piech is probably one of the smartest people who has ever graced the car industry, and many of his ideas have been revolutionary. But a two tonne car with 1500bhp that has the ability (in theory) to travel faster than any other road car on earth while delivering the comfort and civility of a limousine is, I’m afraid, no longer one of them.
In the early noughties it was, perhaps, because no one had ever dreamed of such a device previously. And when Bugatti finally delivered on its promise the Veyron, just for a moment, seemed like a deity among cars.
But then that moment passed. The world moved on. We all know now that outright top speed and ultimate luxury are not the holy grail, not even among the rarified world of the uber-car. Instead, less weight, less top speed, greater agility and more usable performance have become the key ingredients. Since then the Veyron’s formula has appeared increasingly archaic.