6SpeedOnline Gives Bugatti Veyron One Final Thrashing
Have you ever used Pluto’s gravity field to slingshot your screaming carcass into a black hole? Have you ever been a projectile in a trebuchet? Well, I have because I drove a Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse.
The DEA should classify the Veyron as a Schedule 1 drug, for no car has ever put me into an altered state more than Bugatti’s crème-de-la-crème hypercar, and with the insane amount of engineering behind the Volkswagen Group flagship, I expected no less.
Those first two paragraphs are the best I can explain what it’s like to drive a Bugatti Veyron. My intro may come off as hyperbolic, but trust me on this: it’s not. In fact, my opening comes nowhere close to giving you an idea of what it’s like behind the wheel of what I’m convinced is the best car ever built. Thankfully I have this video to help you join me in the out-of-body experience that is the Vitesse.
No one will ever remember what it’s like to take their first breath, but just imagine for a second what that would be like. Do you think it would be terrifying? Exhilarating? A little of both? Now think about your first time experiencing full-throttle in a Veyron. Terrifying? Exhilarating? A little of both? For me, the answer is all of the above, and while I didn’t take my first breath in the Veyron, under that first full-throttle wallop, I took my first breath as a reborn human being.
Not only did I feel like I was drawing my first breath, but also it was like I had to learn how to breathe all over again. When the 1,183-horsepower tsunami is flooding all four of the Veyron’s contact patches, your brain clicks into a fight-or-flight response, a glow of anxiety spotlights your solar plexus, and the brainstem (the part of your brain that controls breathing) goes offline. This is the body’s subconscious response to the fear of the unknown. The sanitary version of this feeling happens on fast-accelerating roller coasters, but roller coasters are electric, and their power delivery is linear, so it’s somewhat predictable, and therefore not as exhilarating.
Let me remind you a quad-turbocharged, internal-combustion engine is powered by explosions … controlled explosions, but nevertheless, damn explosions that combine to make more power than two Lamborghini Gallardos. That’s a lot of power for two cars, let alone one. That power translates to a sustained 1.5 g of forward thrust, which isn’t a lot when you consider fighter jet pilots pull 7 g in turns, but 1.5 g is about double the sustained acceleration you’ll find in a really fast car, so yes, the Veyron accelerates hard.
The Bugatti Veyron weighs 4,400 pounds, but it corners and stops hard, too. The only thing that’s not hard about it is its ride. The suspension is tuned so that your flesh feels the road, but not your bones, and it also helps that the seats and driving position are comfortable, wheel-well intrusion into footwell notwithstanding. A car that can hammer its fist through the 250-mph barrier should not be this comfortable. Once every five minutes while driving it, you might ask yourself, “How are they doing this?” The car cheats physics so well, you start to become jealous of it. It’s simply not following the rest of the world’s rules.
It’s such a good car, it kept messing with my mind even after my hour-long drive with it was over. For about 15 minutes after the drive, I felt catatonic. I didn’t want to talk. I just wanted to sit down and let it all process. There was so much to experience during the drive that I had to rest a while to let it all sink in. While it only took one gas-pedal mashing in the Bugatti Veyron to change my life, it may take a lifetime to process what having driven that car really means to me.
You’ve heard some of the following numbers before, but it’s important to point them out again to help explain how far this car goes above and beyond the typical driving experience. A replacement transmission for the Veyron will set you back just over $120,000 (one Porsche 911 Carrera S). It costs $25,000 (one Mazda MX-5 Miata) to replace all four of the Veyron’s special Michelin PAX run-flat tires, which are designed to cope with the Veyron’s 254-mph top speed, and once you’ve bought the tires, they have to be mounted on the rims only in France, and that will cost you another $70,000 … but you know what? Those prices are reasonable for what the $2.25-million Veyron does to your emotions.
Now that I’ve driven the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse, my life feels complete. Logically speaking, it’s certainly far from complete — I haven’t watched my first child take its first breath, or driven a vehicle on Mars. Hell, I have yet to drive this car’s successor, a faster model rumored to be called the Chiron — but despite how much life I have left to live, my life feels complete. Everything else from here on out is just icing on the cake.
Years ago when I worked at a Skoda dealership in Sydney, I had proclaimed to my friend and colleague Roy Milano that if I were to one day drive a Bugatti Veyron, then my life would be complete. When I posted pictures and news on Facebook that I had just driven one, and that my life was now complete, Roy reminded me what I had told him. Roy reminded me I had realized a dream.
If there is any car that represents the realization of my dreams and deepest desires, it’s the Bugatti Veyron.
Later that day at Pebble Beach, I ran into /DRIVE’s Mike Musto, and told him what I had driven earlier. He warmly smiled and then replied, “Well-done”, in a way a father would say to his son. Those two simple words perfectly capped off the realization of my dream. You see, my father passed away two-and-a-half years ago, so he’s no longer around to tell me “well-done” when I’ve hit another milestone in my life. During the 1.5 seconds it took for Mike to say those two words, without knowing it, he briefly assumed a father-figure role for me. I really appreciate how that “well-done” came from someone I greatly admire in this industry. Thanks, Mike, for making my Veyron experience feel complete.
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