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The Unspeakable Speed of the Bugatti Veyron

Piloting the world’s fastest convertible is a trip at $2.1 million and 253 miles per hour.

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The English language stumbles and falls notably short whenattempting to describe the sensation of “acquainting” oneself with the Bugatti Veyron 16.4Grand 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 thefull weight of the Veyron’s 1001break horsepower for the first time, the force is so violent that the mindbecomes deliriously blank. Time and space is distorted in a way that only hasprecedent for astronauts upon liftoff or Formula 1 drivers leaving the grid.You feel as though you’re perhapshaving 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 thefour-wheel-drive Haldex traction control system, which allows this monumentalpower to be fluidly and efficiently put down on the tarmac. As even a tentativejab on the throttle will take this car from the New Jersey turnpike to Wolf 359quicker than you can say your name, it is plenty reassuring to know that thereis a computer in charge of an electronic stability program that acts on eachindividual wheel and marries impeccable handling manners to the Veyron’s massive accelerating power. City streetswill be negotiated with feline poise, while rubberneckers and camera-phonewavers 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 itinto an open tourer and used carbon fiber to ensure that it suffers from lesstorsional flexing than any other roadster. What this means is that the driveris free to enjoy the manifold pleasures of cruising with the roof off—atwo-person job to remove but a simple and swift job nonetheless—safe in theknowledge that the Grand Sport is a class leader in crash performance forconvertible sports cars. Speed on.

The Grand Sport, with the roof off, adds a tremendouslyvisceral aspect to the driving experience as the engine and air intakes areonly inches away from your head—the turbos greedily gurgling away, a constantreminder that you are piloting something between a plane, a college educationand a Formula 1 car. And should you be caught out by the weather, the GrandSport conveniently carries an umbrella-like soft top that neatly occupies thespace normally inhabited by the roof, though you will be limited to 80 milesper hour once this is in place. Still, not bad for a rainy day.

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