GC exclusively test drives the fastest four-wheel drive production car ever, the Grand Sport Vitesse
The Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse is the 1,200 horsepower version of the open-top model Grand Sport. To date 100 models have been sold worldwide, with the final production run due to be capped at the 150th model.
The Veyron represents a remarkable technological achievement with an eye watering price tag of €2 million. It is not only the fastest car in the world, but also the most expensive with the Middle East accounting for more than a quarter of global sales.
According to former F1 driver and official Bugatti test pilot Pierre-Henri Raphanel, the Veyron would not have been possible without three intertwining components. First, it requires a brand like Bugatti. “If this car was a Toyota, even if it was twice as good, then no one would spend two million on it. You need a luxury brand that represents history and heritage.”
Second was the vision of Ferdinand Piëch, the grandson of Ferdinand Porsche. “He said we would build the fastest car in the world that went over 250 miles with 1001 horsepower.” Fifteen years ago, the maximum power for cars was 550 horsepower. “This wasn’t easy and for three years the project was going down, the engines were overheating and the gearbox exploding but the man knew what he wanted. He changed the president of the company and finally they made the first Veyron in 2005.”
The final requirement is a group like Volkswagen to invest and support this type of project.
“This is why a car like this comes around only once in a lifetime,” explains Raphanel. “Bugatti made 27 prototypes of the Veyron before they officially launched the model costing them €27 million.” The investment has almost certainly been recouped from sales. The car was also tested in extreme conditions, cold temperatures in Sweden and hot temperatures in Death Valley, however it is unlikely that anyone would leave their supercar parked outside in the snow. This goes some way to explain why Bugatti expect customers to pay such a staggering amount for a supercar when their competitors such as Ferrari and McLaren charge half the price. But as Raphanel points out, “Nobody will spend €2 million when they can get an equivalent for €1 million. They spend €2 million because they know it is worth €2 million.”
Top Speed: 410 km/h
Performance: 1,200 horsepower/6.400 rpm
Acceleration: 2.6 sec 0 – 100 km/h
Engine: W-16, 8 liter capacity