200kph. A click on the left-hand steering wheel stalk and engage cruise control. Two or three deep breaths, aim at the Armco and then in a blink I’m up on the banking of this top secret test bowl, the corner’s angle carrying me away from oblivion.
At this point there’s nothing to do. I hang firmly on to the steering wheel, but Pierre-Henri Raphanel, Bugatti’s resident driving hand and former F1 racer, urges me to hold it by my finger tips. The Veyron really is steering itself, something he demonstrates when he later takes the wheel by waving his hands as we round the bend.
Midway round and Raphanel gestures down a gear to sixth. Then fifth. Then fourth. Each shift nigh-on imperceptible such is the refinement and speed of Bugatti’s DSG box.
As the banking levels out the steering weights up, requiring a firmer grip and slight twist of the wheel. And then Raphanel gestures forwards. Throttle pinned open, the Veyron Vitesse surges forwards.
250kph flashes up, 300kph swiftly follows. The braking zone is still nowhere to be seen. 310kph. 320kph. The surge is rapid but not overwhelming, and shows no sign of abating. The marker cones hove in to view. 325, 326, 327kph.
Enough. Ease off and brake. That’s an indicated 203mph, roof down. Later tests reveal the speedo is within one per cent accuracy, which means I’ve just squeezed out a 200mph run, roof down.
My nerves are tingling, but through exhilaration rather than effort. Throughout, the cabin was quiet and there was no buffeting. The Bugatti Veyron Vitesse was barely into its stride.