Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse (2012) review

Published:15 June 2012

Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse (2012) review
  • At a glance
  • 4 out of 5
  • 5 out of 5
  • 3 out of 5
  • 5 out of 5
  • 5 out of 5

By Ben Pulman

CAR's editor-at-large, co-ordinator, tallboy

By Ben Pulman

CAR's editor-at-large, co-ordinator, tallboy

This is the Bugatti Veyron Vitesse. Or to give it its full name: the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse. It’s the ultimate Veyron, mixing the targa-roofed (and reinforced) body of the Grand Sport with the upgraded 1183bhp engine from the world record-breaking Super Sport. It’s yours for £1.6m.

1183bhp? In a convertible Bugatti Veyron? Are you sure?

Yes we are. All Veyrons have an 8.0-litre W16 engine with four turbochargers (hence the 16.4 designation) but the Vitesse features the Super Sport’s version, with upgraded intercoolers and four larger turbos. And the increases in power and torque aren’t small: 987bhp and 922lb ft has become 1183bhp and 1106lb ft. What other go-faster variant on the planet has an extra 196bhp? That’s nearly a whole Golf GTI’s worth of extra horsepower!

And if you’ve ever even thought about the environment then you’ll feel sorry for Mother Nature’s resources when you see the consumption and emission figures too: 539g/km CO2 and 12.2mpg on the official combined cycle. The Vitesse drinks nothing less than 98 RON too (not that owners will quibble over paying an extra few pence per litre for the super stuff), something nearer the urban 7.6mpg figure is more realistic, and the fuel gauge doesn’t read in quarters, but litres, so you can physically see how quickly that quad turbo engine is gobbling through the tank’s 100 litres of unleaded.

So just how quick is the new Bugatti Veyron Vitesse?

You expect to be utterly overwhelmed by the ferocity of the acceleration, but Nissan GT-Rs, McLaren MP4-12Cs, and over-engined Caterham Sevens and Ariel Atoms prepare you for the initial smack in the back when you accelerate from low speed.

What your brain hasn’t had the chance to acclimatise to is that same rate of acceleration being maintained as the speed piles on. 80mph? No respite, as the seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox shifts seamlessly without pause in power. 100mph? Still no break, and the Vitesse actually feels like it’s accelerating harder – it isn’t, but your head isn’t used to the unrelenting rush. 120mph…

Besides our testing on the road, we also tried the Vitesse on track, and coming off the banking and onto a 2km straight, the Veyron leapt forward from 120mph like most cars do from 0mph. From 125mph to 186mph takes just 8.9 seconds; on the straight we had around 15 seconds of full throttle action, by which point we were well over 200mph. It’s an easy 200mph, a nonchalant nip up to a number that most cars and people will never pass. In the Veyron it’s an utter doddle, a figure that becomes insignificant as the top speed is over 50mph higher.

So did you have the roof up to do 200mph?

Nope, the targa top was safely stowed in the back of a VW van for our run. But thanks to a new wind deflector that clips into the windscreen header rail, and another one that attaches to the rear bulkhead and curves forward around the seats, this is the most cossetting convertible in the world. If we weren’t concentrating so hard above 200mph then conversation would have been possible with our passenger.

Unlike other true convertibles, the rear screen and bodywork shelters you from the worst of the wind. But as the W16 engine and its assorted breathing apparatus make so much noise, you never feel like you’re losing out on the open air experience, like you do in, say, a Renault Wind. And that’s the only time a small Twingo-based roadster and a Bugatti have ever been compared.

What’s the Veyron like to drive?

Pretty amazing, especially in the fact that, width and pricey carbonfibre body aside, it’s easy to pootle around in. And thanks to four-wheel drive, that refined DSG transmission, and lots of trick electronics, all that power and torque is delivered without much fuss and furor too. It’s as easy as a Golf to drive.

But thankfully it doesn’t drive like a Golf. The steering is delicate and accurate, the brakes strong and easy to modulate. It’s not big and blunt, but agile, utterly disguising its two-tonne bulk, the softer springs and upgraded dampers providing a comfortable ride. But don’t think that body control is anything other than excellent. Grip levels are ridiculous too, understeer is the default safety setting for the chassis (rightly so) and every modulation of the throttle is accompanied by that huge engine, its turbos and exhaust hissing and spitting and roaring just over your shoulder. It’s not a spine-tingly V12, but something much deeper, more complex and utterly entrancing.

Verdict

Meticulously and beautifully built, and able to deliver nearly 1200bhp not just easily but also reliably, the Veyron is like no other car. And with the roof removed, and the wick turned up on that incredible engine, the Vitesse is more emotional and involving than any Veyron that’s gone before.

Specs

Price when new: £1,600,000
On sale in the UK: Now
Engine: 7993cc 64v quad-turbocharged W16, 1183bhp @ 6400rpm, 1106lb ft @ 3000-5000rpm
Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, four-wheel drive
Performance: 2.6sec 0-62mph, 255mph, 12.2mpg, 539g/km CO2
Weight / material: 4462/1998/1190mm
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm): 1990kg/carbonfibre and aluminium

Photo Gallery

  • Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse (2012) review
  • Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse (2012) review
  • Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse (2012) review
  • Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse (2012) review
  • Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse (2012) review
  • Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse (2012) review
  • Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse (2012) review
  • Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse (2012) review

By Ben Pulman

CAR's editor-at-large, co-ordinator, tallboy

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