There are supercars, there are other supercars, and then there's the Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse. Just look at the jaw-dropping, brain-exploding numbers: 16 cylinders. Four turbos. 1200 horsepower. A top speed of 258 mph. And perhaps most shocking of all? It costs a cool $2.5 million. So when the good folks at Bugatti invited us to take one for a drive last week in Monterey, CA, we could not get behind the wheel fast enough. (That is, after a long, comprehensive conversation with our lawyers.)
In person, the car is, well, simply insane looking. Low, rounded, and covered in scoops and air vents, it resembles something that might be visiting Earth from another planet. The Veyron makes your heart pump high-octane adrenaline even before you get behind the wheel. The model we drove was bright orange, so any chance of being under-the-rader on the windy central Cali coast roads flew right out of the removable top. Before driving myself, pro race car driver and "Bugatti Test Pilot" Butch Leitzinger—who had recently gotten the beast near its world-record top speed in a deserted desert—gave me a (you-better-not-damn) crash course on the vehicle. He showed me how to change gears (it's got a seven-speed dual-clutch tranny, which you can either paddle-shift yourself or put in automatic), adjust the wheel (hey, you gotta see), and get a feel for the insane power underneath your right foot (make like Hank and tread lightly).
After doing a quick sign of the cross, I got behind the wheel and was off. Even though I'm a professional journalist (at least that's what I tell my mom), it's difficult to find the words to describe what happens when you press on that gas pedal and unleash the 1200 horses. Bearing in mind I was on public roads, not a track, I was only able to get it to the floor three times on my 20 minute drive for about, oh, two seconds each time. That was enough. The feeling can best be described as the free-fall sensation you get when on a roller coaster, except that you're moving horizontally. And the noise! Oh, the glorious noise. Imagine Mozart conducting an orchestra made up of 16 pistons, four whooshing turbochargers, and, uh, a bunch of other engine parts. The final analysis? I still can't wipe the stupid smile—one that's even stupider than my regular smile—off my face.
Engine: 8.0-liter quad turbo W16
Torque: 1106 lb-ft
0-60: 2.4 seconds
Top speed: 258 mph
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We took the world's fastest production car for a pants-wetting spin around the block…and survived.