The English language stumbles and falls notably short when attempting to describe the sensation of “acquainting” oneself with the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport and its 16-cylinder, eight-liter engine. It is a vicarious thrill, one too fast for the language of Chaucer and Shakespeare. Upon summoning the full weight of the Veyron’s 1001 break horsepower for the first time, the force is so violent that the mind becomes deliriously blank. Time and space is distorted in a way that only has precedent for astronauts upon liftoff or Formula 1 drivers leaving the grid. You feel as though you’re perhaps having an out-of-body experience or being sucked out of a jet plane. It’s a rush.
Central to all this is the stability afforded by the four-wheel-drive Haldex traction control system, which allows this monumental power to be fluidly and efficiently put down on the tarmac. As even a tentative jab on the throttle will take this car from the New Jersey turnpike to Wolf 359 quicker than you can say your name, it is plenty reassuring to know that there is a computer in charge of an electronic stability program that acts on each individual wheel and marries impeccable handling manners to the Veyron’s massive accelerating power. City streets will be negotiated with feline poise, while rubberneckers and camera-phone wavers blur by when the four turbos are invoked.
To build the Grand Sport, billed not incorrectly as “the ultimate open-top sports car,” Bugatti reappraised the initial Veyron’s structure in order to transform it into an open tourer and used carbon fiber to ensure that it suffers from less torsional flexing than any other roadster. What this means is that the driver is free to enjoy the manifold pleasures of cruising with the roof off—a two-person job to remove but a simple and swift job nonetheless—safe in the knowledge that the Grand Sport is a class leader in crash performance for convertible sports cars. Speed on.
The Grand Sport, with the roof off, adds a tremendously visceral aspect to the driving experience as the engine and air intakes are only inches away from your head—the turbos greedily gurgling away, a constant reminder that you are piloting something between a plane, a college education and a Formula 1 car. And should you be caught out by the weather, the Grand Sport conveniently carries an umbrella-like soft top that neatly occupies the space normally inhabited by the roof, though you will be limited to 80 miles per hour once this is in place. Still, not bad for a rainy day.