The fastest show on earth: Bugatti Veyron

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The fastest show on earth: Bugatti Veyron

By James May, topgear.com

Bugatti Veyron, fastest production car in the world

Bugatti Veyron, fastest production car in the world

Bugatti Veyron

supercar

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The first thing that struck me about the Bugatti Veyron was not, fortunately, the Bugatti Veyron itself. But only just.

The first thing that struck me about the Bugatti Veyron was not, fortunately, the Bugatti Veyron itself. But only just.

I was standing in the middle of the small and deliberately darkened hotel courtyard when a German voice in the darkness advised me to move, 'schnell'.

The Veyron swept in and I narrowly avoided becoming the first person in history to be run over by a road car developing more than 1,000 horsepower.

That would have put me up there with that bloke who fell under the wheels of Stephenson's Rocket.

Then the lights came on, to subdued cheering, and something else struck me. The Veyron is not ridiculous.

Whenever manufacturers talk of a money-no-object ultracar, I brace myself for a welter of carbon-fibre fatuousness and broken front air dams: but here was something quite classy looking.

I still think the Bugatti grille at the front is an aberration, and it seems odd that the engine is mounted outside, like it is on a Morgan three- wheeler.

Obviously it isn't for the shy and retiring, but neither does it look like a monument to excess. It's taut, stubby and most shapely.

By the standards of its coevals it's positively discreet, and comes in a Royale-style two-tone paint job, as befitting 'the fastest car on earth with comfort you would not believe.'

Even the interior is perfectly agreeable. A bit bling, maybe, but at least made from proper materials and not plastered with pseudo space-age trim.

The controls really do fall easily to hand, even if the arse falls rather clumsily across the wide sill and into the 'sports' seat. A 'luxury' seat is available for the less committed.

I'm not sure which is the most significant of the three Top Trumps figures attending all talk of the Veyron: one million euros, 1,000 horsepower, or 400kmh.

They're all winners, unless you play the traditional 'price is low' rule, in which case the Bugatti can be won with almost anything in your hand, even the Pagani Zonda Roadster.

One million euros? That's as near as makes no difference (at least to the sort of people with that much money to spend on what is probably - let's be honest here - a second car) 700,000.

But it will be made in small numbers, to order, and the attainment of great personal wealth is not really Volkswagen's concern. The other two numerical attributes have been very much their concern, and for a long time.

"Why should it be easy?" boss Piech is reputed to have retorted when VW's engineers complained that it was all too difficult. Why indeed? Brunel didn't achieve what he did just by smoking cigars.

A thousand horsepower in itself is actually not remarkable, either. It's been available in aero engines since before the war, and is a fairly simple matter of burning fuel at a sufficient rate, since fuel is where the power comes from.

Achieving it in a 'relatively small' eight-litre car engine is another matter (just so you know, the 1,030hp Rolls-Royce Merlin in a MkI Hawker Hurricane was a 27-litre V12) and keeping it cool is yet another one.

The Veyron might be nudging 200mph-plus around a circuit, but it might be sitting in a traffic jam.

One outcome of the cooling issue is that over its six-model evolution, the number of radiators in a Veyron has grown to 10, or one more than I have in my house (which, oddly, is always freezing cold).



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