Driven: Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport, Part I

July 27, 2009

What a week! While the world toiled away on trivialities like healthcare, racial equality and unemployment, TheCarConnection flew to New York City for a spin in the only car that's capable of dislodging the Space Shuttle Atlantis on our must-drive list: the Bugatti Veyron 16.4.

Our test car was not the $1 million coupe that you've seen at TCC before. No, wait--it's better. Bugatti is touring the $2 million targa-topped Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport edition around the country and at this year's Pebble Beach Concours, and that's the car they graciously provided to us in the tony New York suburb of Greenwich, Connecticut, for a three-hour tour.

Their media tour's a preview, in a way, for a new concept being shown at the Bugatti centennial celebration next month in Molsheim, France. That concept--as TheCarConnection.com reported first last week--won't be on display at the subsequent Frankfurt Auto Show. Instead, it's destined to leak out in iPhone pics and low-res images while Bugatti keeps it cloaked from the press, and uses it to poll clients and dealers on the viability of a successor to the Veyron coupe and targa.

It's all very exclusive and, well, if you haven't received your invite, you won't be getting one. (We're still pleading our case.)

Tomorrow, we'll have a full report on driving the Grand Sport around Connecticut, both here and on our partner site, MotorAuthority.com. Until then, here's a clip of my drive-by with Gary Gastelu and crew on the Fox Car Report, and a high-resolution photo gallery of the Grand Sport from our rumble around the Merritt Parkway:

Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport

Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport

Hold your horses: the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport carries the same 987-horsepower, 950-pound-feet, quad-turbocharged, 8.0-liter W-16 engine as the Veyron coupe, but gets a removable targa top and more carbon-fiber body panels. The transmission is a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox teamed with all-wheel drive that constantly shifts power around, even from a start, based on traction.

Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport

Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport

LED daytime running lights and the famed Bugatti horseshoe grille bring modern and traditional details to this $2 million roadster. At 176 inches long, with a wheelbase of about 107 inches, it's almost exactly the same size as a Honda Civic sedan.


Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport

Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport

Introduced in 2005 as the Veyron 16.4 coupe, the Grand Sport's lines still look timeless. (There's an umbrella-like roof in the trunk for times when the targa panel's left at home.) Despite aluminum and carbon fiber construction, the Grand Sport still weighs in at 4387 pounds.


Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport

Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport

A special key permits owners to engage a Top Speed mode; at speed beyond 233 mph, the car senses if steering or traction aren't up to par, and disengages top-speed runs. Bugatti promises a 0-60 mph time of 2.7 seconds and braking from 60 mph to 0 mph in less; a 5-second run to 60 mph and back is easy thanks to carbon-ceramic brakes. Top speed is clocked at 253 mph; Bugatti invites select owners each year to its test track to drive their prepared Veyrons to the ultimate limit.


Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport

Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport

That group is a select subset of a very select group of Veyron owners. To buy a Grand Sport, you'll need to cough up a $450,000 deposit on order to get your place in line. Another $450,000 comes due when the factory begins work on it. The $1.1M balance is due to the dealer at delivery. Only 150 will be made; the first 50 were offered to current Bugatti owners and 30 have already placed their orders.


Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport

Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport

Owners can customize their Veyron in any imaginable way, and some Middle Eastern clients have come up with some "creative" choices, says U.S. marketing manager John Hill.


Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport

Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport

Massive air intakes on the side foreshadow the shapes seen on Bugatti's corporate cousin, the Audi R8.

Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport

Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport

Huge polished wheels wear the "EB" logo and hide "Bugatti"-stamped brake calipers, surrounded by front 265-series and 365-series tires.

Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport

Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport

That sucking sound you hear isnt Ross Perot's lament from the political grave--it's the Veyron's four turbochargers opening and slamming shut their wastegates in the most aurally pleasing way you'll ever hear in a car.


Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport

Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport

Manifold destiny: if you want a Veyron, you'll want everyone to see the exposed engine elements hung out behind the cockpit and seats.


Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport

Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport

An automatic spoiler deploys at 137 mph to generate downforce, which helps the Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport stay glued to the track to its 253-mph speed limit (it's 224 mph when the targa panel is removed).


Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport

Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport

After a long run at speed, the Veyron's spoiler will stay in its "up" position until the massive 16-cylinder engine has cooled.


Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport

Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport

Bugatti details are sculptural, down to the milled finished on the completely hidden gas tank (not shown here). Fuel economy ranges from 8 mpg city to 14 mpg on the highway, by European specs.


Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport

Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport

Bugatti's Hill promises he's seen 18 mpg on the highway; our shattering runs on the Merritt Parkway pushed his numbers forcefully down, according to the Grand Sport's instant-economy gauge.


Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport

Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport

Premium only, please--fuel as well as clients.


Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport

Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport

The Grand Sport's interior is snug for two adults--and there's no room at all for luggage except for a minimal space under the front hood. Owners will have "their people" schlep "their stuff" to "Fedex," we imagine. That black patch on the center tunnel is a connection point for cellular telephones. The phone slot's a very important accessory: each Bugatti sportscar delivers a stream of data to the company each time the car is turned off. All kinds of telemetry--speeds driven, mileage, any technical problems, and location--are transmitted to Bugatti HQ, which contacts owners if it detects a problem. Owners can opt out of the location service if they wish.

Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport

Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport

There's no typical navigation screen in the Grand Sport: both a rearview camera and the navigation instructions are displayed in the car's rearview mirror, leaving the lovely elliptical center stack to dazzle with a milled finish and a real sense of tradition.

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