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23 May 2024

The Dh6m drive of your life

By Reena Amos Dyes



If you want to buy the world’s most expensive and fastest-accelerating supercar, then look no further than the Dh6 million Bugatti Veyron 16.4. But you’ll not be alone if you stump up all that cash – 15 Veyrons have already been delivered to buyers in Dubai.


With a top speed of 408.47kph, you need not worry about a bird-strike wrecking your radiator, because the limited-edition Veyron has six meshes in front of its radiators – all made of super-strong titanium.


The decision to use titanium came about when Bugatti, a French division of the Volkswagen group, was test driving the car, says head of the company’s media communications, Julius Kruta.


“We were putting the car through a hot test drive session in South Africa when a bird flew right into its path,” he told Emirates Business. “At the speed of 330kph it was like a small missile being hurled at the car and it smashed through the six aluminium meshes in front of the radiator and destroyed it.


“That’s when our engineers and design team decided to replace the aluminum meshes with titanium. So now if a bird ever hits the Veyron at that speed again it will come out the other side looking like French fries and the radiators will remain safe.”


The Veyron is the quickest production car, reaching 100kph in a mere 2.5 seconds. It hurtles to 200kph and 300kph in 7.4 and 16.7 seconds respectively.


But why did Bugatti decide to make such a vehicle?


“The idea was not to make the most expensive car in the world. The idea was to make a showcase car to tell the world what the Volkswagen group is capable of doing if the sky is the limit.


“We can proudly say that after four years of extensive work we have shown the world what we can do by producing the most drivable, usable super sports car in the world, which has broken the record for being the fastest accelerating car,” said Kruta.


The Bugatti Veyron was also the fastest and most powerful car until it was surpassed by the SSC Ultimate Aero TT in 2007. But is it worth the price?


The car, named after Pierre Veyron, Bugatti’s test driver and development engineer in the 1930s, features a W16 engine – 16 cylinders in four banks of four cylinders. Each cylinder has four valves, making a total of 64, but the configuration allows two camshafts to drive two banks of cylinders, so only four camshafts are needed.


The engine is fed by four turbochargers and displaces 7,993cc with a square 86mm by 86mm bore and stroke. The curb weight is 1,888kg, which gives the car a power-to-weight ratio of 529 bhp/tonne.


Putting this power to the road is a dual-clutch computer-controlled manual transmission with seven gears. The Veyron can be driven with full automatic transmission and features full-time all-wheel drive. It uses special Michelin run-flat tyres designed specifically to accommodate the vehicle’s top speed.


The car’s everyday maximum speed is 375kph and when the car reaches 220kph, the hydraulics lower it until it has a ground clearance of 8.9cm. At the same time its wing and spoiler deploy hold the car to the road.


In order to achieve that absolute top speed, the driver must insert a special key when the car is stationary. It lowers the car to such a level that if you turned the steering wheel more than a few degrees the car could touch the ground.


The key also raises the rear spoilers slightly to create the least amount of drag possible.


But what is it like to drive? The Veyron is best described in the words of Gordon Murray – designer of another supercar, the McLaren F1 – who wrote in UK motoring magazine Top Gear: “One really good thing, and I simply never expected this, is that it does change direction.


“It hardly feels its weight. Driving it on a circuit I expected a sack of cement, but you can really throw it at tight chicanes. The braking is phenomenal, the primary ride and body control are good, too. It’s a huge achievement.”


Was it economically viable for Bugatti to build the Veyron? Kruta said: “It is a statement car and we are not even meeting the cost of production. As it is not an assembly line product, each car has to be put together like a Swiss watch and we plan to build only 300 of these.


“We have already delivered 125 cars worldwide and as we are building only 85 per year we still have two more years of production ahead of us.


“Even though it is not economically viable for us, we will do it again. We have bigger plans for the future and the next one from our stables will be even more expensive than the Veyron.”