DRIVEN: BUGATTI VEYRON SUPER SPORT
Bug takes the best car in the world, and makes it better. What else?
Assuming you are on a flat and level surface, and there is sufficient grip to enable the 365 section rear tyres to generate full traction alongside the 265 tyres fitted at the front axle, the Veyron Super Sport will reach 62mph from rest in a mere 2.5sec. By then, though, it hasn't really got into its stride. By then, in fact, it has only just got going thanks to the combined machinations of its 1184bhp, 1105lb ft W16 quad turbo engine and the battle that unfolds between this lot and its complex ESP system.
There's no sudden extra kick of acceleration, instead the torque - all 1500Nm of it - swells to a point where it feels as if you are being sucked towards the horizon by A Higher Force. It's such a potent experience, you do wonder for a moment if your heart and mind are capable of taking it. You wonder, in fact, if you might actually pass out if the experience becomes any more intense than it already is.
I say apparently because I never got to sample the Veyron SS much beyond 180mph - and at that point it still felt savagely accelerative, piling on the speed like a Porsche 911 Turbo does between 40-60mph. Hence the reason it takes an astonishing 6.7sec to reach 200kmh, and just 14.6sec to hit 186mph (300kmh).
What's perhaps most amazing of all about this most amazing of cars, however, is that despite its cataclysmic performance, it's also an extremely refined machine to drive. When you put your foot down and feel your internal organs squeezed towards the back of your torso under the sheer g-force, there's also the unique sensation of being in complete luxury while doing so.
And that's precisely what Bugatti delivered. Which is why, in the end, it's the Super Sport's breadth of ability that separates it so completely from the rest of the world - the fact that it can throw you at the horizon with sufficient force to make you feel physically uncomfortable, while at the same time providing you with the sights, sounds and smells of the most luxuriant car money can buy.
How much does it cost? They say that if you have to ask with a car like this, then you almost certainly cannot afford it. For the record, though, the 'entry point' for Super Sport ownership is 1.65m Euros pus local taxes. If you then go for the part-carbon exterior finish the price rises to 1.75m. Go for the full carbon finish and you'll be relieved of 1.85m. And if you want your Super Sport in world record-breaking orange and black colours then it's 1.95m. Or at least it would be had the five versions featuring this unique colour scheme not already sold out.
Because the Super Sport accelerates that much faster than the regular Veyron, the speed and angle at which it deploys its huge rear wing had to be completely recalibrated - otherwise the car would have become unstable before it got near its top speed. So now the bi-plane wing emerges from the rear bodywork at 180kmh whereas it doesn't appear until 220kmh in the standard Veyron. You can feel the difference on the move that the wing makes.
Although there's more performance than ever available, there is also more stability as well. The car feels even more rooted to the ground at high cornering speeds, and it has a level of agility that is superior to the standard Veyron. And if you really start to throw it around it understeers slightly less, too, even though there is still some push engineered into the front end, mainly for safety reasons on or near the limit. Veyron owners don't want a car that's twitchy at the back end, after all, the inevitable consequence of which is that the SS, if pushed hard, tends to run wide at the front. And there's not a lot you can do to alter this other than back off and enter corners a little slower.
And that's before you even mention its gearbox, which remains the single most extraordinary aspect of this most extraordinary car. The speed and smoothness with which the Super Sport shifts gears is unprecedented in a car of this kind; and the fact that it has 1105lb ft to deal with while doing so is almost beyond comprehension.
Mind you, as parting shots go the Veyron Super Sport would be some swansong. Let's hope there will be more Bugattis to accompany it in the months and years to come. And if not, let's get one thing clear for the record books here and now; the Veyron Super Sport is the best car in the world. There may never be anything else quite like it ever again.
Bugatti Veyron Super Sport - the stats:
Price: 1.65m Euros, plus local taxes
0-62mph: 2.5sec (claimed)
Top speed: 268mph
Economy: 12.2 (combined)
CO2 emissions: 539g/km
Kerb weight: 1838kg
Engine layout: W16, 7993cc, petrol, turbocharged
Installation: mid, longitudinal, four wheel-drive
Torque: 1105lb ft/3000-5000rpm
Power to weight: 644bhp/tonne
Specific output: 148bhp/litre
Compression ratio: 8.3:1
Gearbox: 7-speed paddle shift dual-clutch
Width: 1998mm (ex mirrors)
Fuel tank: 100 litres
Front suspension: Double wishbones, coil springs, anti-roll bar
Rear suspension: Double wishbones, coil springs. anti-roll bar
Brakes: 400mm carbon ceramic discs (front); 380mm carbon ceramic discs (rear)
Wheels: 20in magnesium alloy, front and rear
Tyres: 265/35 front, 365/30 rear