Let’s not waste words. The new Bugatti Veyron X16 Super Sport is the best supercar in the world. Priced at a cool £2 million and with just 30 to be constructed, already 24 have been bagged. Fittingly, it’s the Veyron’s swansong.
The changes over the ‘regular’ car include an uprated W16, 8.0-litre quad-turbocharged engine that produces 1183bhp, up by some 196bhp thanks to bigger turbos, bigger intercoolers and better breathing. Torque has also risen to a staggering 1105lb ft, all delivered between an easy 3000 and 5000rpm.
To handle this 20% increase in grunt the SS’s drivetrain has been extensively re-engineered, with a tougher gear-set in the seven-speed DSG gearbox, as well as uprated brakes, suspension and steering. Crucially, the aero package has been adapted to suit this car’s astonishing (potential) 268mph top speed.
The ultra-high-speed Veyron SS is designed to be a totally useable road car and this is what makes it so impressive. You climb into the well-made but understated interior, fire it up, select Drive on the auto ’box and trundle off. The steering is light, the ride is comfortable, the engine sounds powerful but muted, the brakes are viceless and visibility is perfect out of the front and acceptable to the rear. The Veyron is more Bentley than it is Porsche in terms of comfort and refinement, which is a real achievement.
But find an open road and allow the speed to rise over 180km/h – about 110mph – and the SS switches into Handling mode. The ride height drops and the rear wing deploys. Touching a paddleshifter mounted on the steering wheel seamlessly switches the Bug from auto to manual. Depress the accelerator and as soon as 3000rpm spools up on the rev counter (the red line is at a lowly 6500rpm), which it does very quickly, then wham, the 1105lb ft of torque hits the tarmac and the SS is immediately at warp speed. But the deep rumble from the V16 engine remains subdued and the Bugatti does not lose its composure one iota as the superb DSG gearbox whips through the gears almost imperceptibly. The SS tracks down the road at impossible speed but the steering remains light and linear and the huge carbon ceramic brakes are totally reassuring as they evaporate huge speed with disdain. The Bugatti might weigh a chunky 1838kg but it never feels like it on the road.
The Veyron’s all-wheel-drive chassis does a valiant job of flattering the driver, making progress on any sort of road surface seem easy. And of course, this is all happening at speeds well beyond the capability of any Ferrari, Porsche or Bentley.
And that’s the surprise and the real attraction of this monster car. It is so powerful, yet so refined that you soon start to drive it like a gentleman, enjoying its supple ride, quiet and comfortable interior, and immense ground-covering abilities. It makes small aircraft appear horribly antiquated – it is not only the best supercar in the world, it is one of the best GT cars as well.