I recently enjoyed a demonstration of a wonderful, high-end sound system in Porsche’s new Panamara luxury sedan. The optional Burmester system offers 16 speakers and 1,000 watts to thrill the car’s inhabitants. Dieter Burmester, who builds home systems that cost up to $100,000, asked me if I had heard his automotive offering in the Bugatti Veyron. I confessed that during my wheel time in this magnificent machine, I hadn’t even switched on the audio system. He understood.
In Bugatti’s new Grand Sport with the roof removed, the engine’s massive twin-air intakes residing right behind your head provide all the stereo entertainment an enthusiast could wish for. When you tip into the throttle gracefully (a prudent move considering the 1,001 horses corralled right behind you), the 16-cylinder engine’s string section begins the music. Add more throttle pressure and deep brass and tympani join the chorus. And at full throttle, you’re a principal participant in Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries.
When Bugatti launched its Veyron model, I wasn’t alone in wondering why even the most devoted car enthusiast would want a machine this over the top. But there are a few who might want to fly their own jet fighter, even though retired military aircraft are famously expensive to own and operate. So think of the Veyron as an F/A-22 Raptor that’s land-based, except that you’re surrounded in wonderful luxury, and you’ve got the concept.
Numbers can’t possibly tell the full story, but here are a few gearhead facts. The Veyron will lunge from rest to 60 mph in just north of 2.5 seconds, and reach 100 in just over 7 seconds on its way to a 253 mph top speed. That last specification is best reached with the Grand Sport’s carbon fiber roof firmly in place. And the other specifications of worthiness are that at top speed the tires could fail after 15 minutes, but the good news is that, at full throttle, you’ll run out of fuel before that happens.
Life in the world’s most exotic car is more than top-speed pursuits or challenging an adult adolescent to a drag race. Part of the Bugatti experience is simply knowing that your amazing conveyance sits on top of conventionally-fueled automotive technology. That you are surrounded with unrivaled handcrafted luxury and rare materials. And that even the most snooty valet will always reserve the number one parking spot for your very rare Veyron.
On the challenging roads above the Napa Valley, I found the Veyron possessed surprisingly quick reflexes for a car that tips the scales at 4,300 pounds. Its all-wheel-drive system kept the Bugatti connected through the turns with confidence worth its impressive price. When I needed to pass a slower car safely at 60 mph, the feat was nothing short of amazing.
Flooring the throttle caused the dual-clutch transmission to shift from seventh to second gear and deliver acceleration analogous to being fired from a cannon. In seconds, we were around the leisurely vehicle and brought the lightning quick Veyron back to a more permissible pace. And while all this was happening, I was entertained by the Bugatti’s cacophony of sonic amusement. So I still haven’t heard the Burmester stereo system play in the Veyron Grand Sport, but I’ll bet it’s brilliant. BRIAN DOUGLAS