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Friday, May 05, 2006

Bugatti Veyron: A different test drive

Bugatti Veyron
Automobile Mag has a very interesting and quite different test drive report of the Bugatti Veyron.
Ah yes, the Veyron. The flagship of all flagships. The sixteen-cylinder supercar conceived with a mission to crack the McLaren F1’s top speed mark. If you’ve followed the Veyron’s gestation, you know its hurdle to greatness has been fraught with hurdles.

The unusual “W” engine configuration, for instance, was reached after several prototypes failed—the smooth-running in-line sixteen presented packaging problems, and the M16 engine suffered insurmountable oiling failures. Then, late one night, Veyron chief engineer Lars Munch had an epiphany: turn the M16 upside down. Thus was born the W16.

Further testing revealed new challenges heretofore unseen in a production automobile. The Bugatti’s engine, for example, creates so much heat that it requires ten radiators, although this is an improvement over early prototypes that required as many as twenty-seven, one of which covered the entire windshield. This was deemed impractical, and while the radiators are now artfully integrated into the bodywork, the Veyron still runs hot, as illustrated when a production Veyron recently caused a nearby Hyundai Elantra to melt. Indeed, rumor has it that cold-weather testing of the Veyron in the Arctic Circle resulted in a ten-percent shrinkage of the ice shelf, and an entire herd of reindeer was rendered sterile.

It’s hard to comprehend how powerful this engine is, but let me put it in terms you can understand. Think of a 500-cc single-cylinder dirt bike. Then double that to a 1000-cc twin sport bike. Then double that to a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder VW Golf. Then double that to a 4.0-liter W8 Passat. Then double that to an 8.0-liter W16. Then double that to a 16.0-liter W32. Then cut that in half again, because now you’ve gone too far. That’s the easiest way to think of the Veyron’s engine: it’s like sixteen dirt bikes all at once. Imagine how fast one dirt bike is, and you’re one-sixteenth to imagining how fast the Veyron goes.

What’s the Veyron like to drive? Here are some performance facts to help tell the story: 0-to-60-to-0 mph can be accomplished while parallel parking. With the traction control switched off, the Veyron will do a four-wheel burnout from rest in seventh gear. It can beat a McLaren F1 to 100 mph—in reverse. At wide-open throttle, the Veyron can suck a bowling ball through the intake and shoot it straight out the exhaust. Above 238 mph, the small elephant that deploys from the roof at 150 mph is again retracted, decreasing drag. If one of the Veyron’s turbochargers fell off, it would still have three.

On the road, stopped school busses become a blurred flash of yellow out of the corner of your eye. Cul-de-sacs shrink. As you push past 180 mph, shopping mall parking lots look like nothing more than people running wildly and throwing bags in the air. It’s divine.

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Source: Automobile Mag


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