2006 Bugatti Veyron EB 16.4

Charlie Magee

The world's most expensive PlayStation

The Veyron is everything the graphic designers from the Sony studios have ever dreamed of and more. This car moves on a different level and at different speeds, an alien object that works in its own parallel universe. The Bugatti cannot (yet) beam away the vehicle in front of it, neutralize red traffic lights, or take off and bypass congestion in midair, but the EB 16.4 does accelerate like a time capsule on its way into orbit. Forward thrust is still strong at 200 mph and beyond, and the Veyron conquers physics in a manner that was previously the domain of your favorite video game.

Predictably, the performance figures that are claimed for this 4300-pound two-seater are simply out of this world: 0 to 62 mph in 2.5 seconds, 0 to 125 mph in 7.3 seconds, and 0 to 188 mph in 16.7 seconds.

The transmission is a mighty seven-speed DSG manu-matic supplied by Ricardo. You can change gears with your thumbs or via the joystick in the center console, which also selects the drive mode of choice. Automatic is fine wherever speed limits beckon, but the most fun is the sport program, which revs every gear to its redline, shifts down really early, musters a telepathic throttle response, and segments the B-roads around Wolfsburg into special stages for a very special car. "The fuel consumption can only be described as acceptable," states Schreiber without batting an eyelash. "In normal use, the Bugatti typically betters 12 mpg. At full throttle in top gear, however, you are looking more at something like 4 mpg." One assumes the owners can afford it.

Comfort and speed

Unlike the Ferrari Enzo, the Veyron is not a racing car in disguise. Instead, the Bugatti is intended to be the grandest grand tourer. The unexpectedly roomy cockpit is trimmed with the finest materials: soft leather, even softer suede, high-quality carpets, and plenty of carefully machined, beautifully detailed aluminum that reprises the instrument panels of classic Bugattis. Incorporated in the center stack are the HVAC controls, the single-disc CD player, and the keyboard for the ear-opening Burmester stereo. An incoming-call button in the headliner suggests there is a phone hidden somewhere in this high-end landscape, and we even note a basic guidance-by-arrow navigation system in the right-hand corner of the rearview mirror, which must be programmed via an external PDA.

Grouped around the shift lever are three buttons: launch control, start engine, and handling setup. "The Veyron is a pure-blooded driving machine, not a showcase for electronic gadgets," says our companion. "That's why we left out everything that could distract the driver, like a complicated navigation system or a complex onboard computer.

"You have to remember that the Veyron extends the speed envelope by 50 or so mph. Even at 200 mph, the forward urge is still enormous. At about 240 mph, the drag and rolling resistance are beginning to take their toll. But patience is really only required for the final 16 mph. The total acceleration time from a standstill to top speed is 55 seconds.

"What's it like to drive at 250 mph?

It's kind of a surreal experience, an excursion into a different world, a big shot of adrenaline--but without sticky palms and wide eyes, even though you are covering 367 feet per second at 250 mph." Schreiber says that it would take an extra 7 hp to improve the top speed by only 0.6 mph at these rarefied speeds.

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