Two hundred kmph. We’re doing brake tests on a public autoroute in France. Julius Kruta is at the wheel. Correction: at this moment, his hands aren’t on the steering wheel.
A block of wood flies across the road.
Kruta jinks right — the rear swings right on some loose gravel — then jinks left — we spear towards the barriers… But Kruta manages not to smear us over the French countryside. He isn’t the Bugatti Veyron’s tester and demonstrator for nothing. A good thing too. Because we’re in the most expensive car in the world. How expensive? I’ll come to that.It’s also, by the way, the fastest car in the world.
How fast? Two-and-a-half seconds to 100 kmph (that’s less time than it takes you to read this sentence); 200 kmph in 7.3 seconds; 300 kmph in 16.7 seconds.
It will out-accelerate a McLaren F1 (for long the fastest road car in the world) even in reverse gear. Top speed is 407 kmph, way faster than the top speed of a Formula 1 car. Give it wings and it could fly: it’s faster than a jet’s take-off speed.
Kruta pulls over. My turn. I roll back on to the motorway, check my mirrors and floor the throttle.
Mother of God! The Veyron rockets off with enough whoosh to bend the time-space continuum — 1001 horsepower is an obscene amount of power, 10 times more than your Honda City. Big Audis and BMWs make something like 250PS. I’ve driven a Lamborghini with 640PS and I was terrified. There aren’t superlatives enough to describe the sheer violence of the acceleration. “Nuclear holocaust” comes close.
The funny part? Your grandmother could drive this thing. Okay, visibility is bad, getting in needs agility, but otherwise it’s as easy to drive as any other street car.
Except when you floor the accelerator. You need a titanium and carbon-fibre stomach for that. And a track long enough — there are only two or three in the world — and a special key. When you insert it into its slot the ride height reduces to 65 mm, the spoiler retracts, all the aero aids, vents and flaps close to create as slippery a shape as possible.
The engine will cut out after 55 seconds of hard acceleration. At which point the car will hit top speed. In 12 minutes, she’ll run out of fuel. A good thing, because at top speed the tyres last for 15 minutes. (Those tyres cost an eye-watering 40,000 euros a set.)
The Veyron is powered by the single most impressive road car engine ever built: 8 litres, 16 cylinders arranged in a W formation, four camshafts, 64 valves with variable timing, petrol direct injection, dry-sump lubrication, four turbochargers. It generates so much heat that 10 heat exchangers are needed to keep things in check, despite the fact that the engine is left uncovered to dissipate as much heat as it can.
That King Kong of an engine is mated to a Godzilla-sized seven-speed twin-clutch transmission, and bolted to a carbon fibre monocoque chassis, similar to those in Formula 1 cars.
The rest is hand-assembled at a studio (note, not a factory) in Molsheim, France. Two or three are made every week. It claims the best paint finish in the world, lovingly polished by master craftsmen over two days. The cabin is the most sensational, most exquisite car cabin on earth. From the very smell, you’ll know it’s the best quality cowhide lining the insides. The fascia on the dash uses an expensive, rare blend of aluminium and magnesium. The same for the indicators; each stalk costs 4,500 euros! No superfluous gizmos clutter up the dash; there is, however, a bespoke Burmester stereo that costs 40,000 euros.
Which, if you can afford the Veyron, you won’t quibble about. Because it costs 1.2 million euros, plus taxes and shipping. That’s 8.1 crore rupees.
Its competition? Yatchs. Villas on the Côte d’Azur. Y’know. Sorry, you still can’t bring one in. It’s only available in left-hand drive, so you can’t register one in India. Too bad for you.
Me? I half-wish that Kruta had hit that barrier. I’ve driven the greatest automobile the world has ever seen. What else is there to live for?
The author is Editor, Overdrive. The full test of Veyron and a special three-part episode at the overdrive site
(This story has been corrected. The price of Bugatti Veyron is Rs. 8.1 crore and not Rs. 81 crore as mentioned earlier.)
(This story appears in the 05 June, 2009 issue of Forbes India. You can buy our tablet version from Magzter.com. To visit our Archives, click here.)