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.