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News update: Plans are afoot to create an even more limioted-production Veyron for 2007 featuring an upgraded version of the 8.0 liter quad turbocharged W16 engine that will produce 1250 hp. It should raise the top speed from 252 mph to 274 mph.
The Bugatti brand is one of the automotive industry's oldest marque's, and it has plans to make a public and very loud comeback with what could well be the fastest production car to ever hit the blacktop.
After what seems like years of teasing us with prototypes, mock sketches and the odd mention of a 1001 brake horsepower engine, the Bugatti Veyron is finally finished and will be sold to European markets late in 2003, and America and Asia Pacific territories after that.
While the Bugatti name is essentially Italian, Carlo Bugatti (father of Ettore Buggati) left Milan for France in 1904, and the marque has since built its cars in Molsheim, France. Today, the Bugatti name is owned by Volkswagen, and the new Veyron supercar has also been styled by the Germans, yet despite this many of the die-hard Bugatti fans are still pleased with the car's appearance.
The Bugatti Veyron was formally announced as ready-to-go by Volkswagen in Monte Carlo recently.
The automaker also released offical images of the production car, which is slightly different from the Veyron shown at the 2002 Geneva Motor Show.
To start with, the long bodied Bugatti - which measures a 4.5 metres from grille to 'zorst, and a massive 2.0 metres wide - gets slightly re-jigged headlights and a few extra air intake apertures, such as those located just behind the front wheels.
As it stands however, the Bugatti behemoth is one very exotic proposition, both in terms of styling and performance. The twin intake snorkels mounted on the roof help funnel cool air to the mid-mounted engine, and while practical, they add a great deal of visual impact too. Volkswagen's goal was create the world's fastest production vehicle, something that could be driven on the road smoothly, or right-royally thrashed. As such, one of the first hurdles the company faced, after developing a killer 16-cylinder engine, was to make sure it was aerodynamically sound. To be able to reach speeds of more than 400km/h and still provide linear handling characteristics, the Veyron's body had to be sleek, but under the car and out of sight are the kind of ground effects more commonly seen on Formula One cars.
Volkswagen paid lots of attention to the front and rear spoilers, and the company reckons that the new Veyron will hold higher corner speeds, be able to more effectively get power to the ground while exiting corners and also decelerate more rapidly under brakes thanks to all the painstaking work they've carried out in the wind tunnel.
The most impressive aspect of the new Bugatti supercar has to be the 16-cylinder engine, which is located behind the driver (mid-mount) for a low centre of gravity, ergo improved turn-in and general handling characteristics.
Rather than try and squeeze 16 cylinders into a vee format, Volkswagen came up with a much more compact idea a few years ago - the 'W' configuration. In layman's terms, it's basically two 4.0-litre V8s sharing the same crankshaft, which makes it more compact than similarly sized V12s. This gargantuan 8.0-litre W16 has four valves per cylinder - for a total of 64 valves - and together with a supremely sophisticated forced induction system, it belts out 1001 horsepower, or 736kW @ 6000rpm.
Just to put that in perspective, the Veyron generates more power than four of Subaru's potent WRXs put together. Made of aluminium and magnesium (to keep weight down), the 7993cc W16 powerplant has four turbochargers and four camshafts, one for each bank of four cylinders respectively. With a 9.0:1 compression ratio and variable valve timing, the quad-turbo system helps boost the car's low end, while providing a fatter torque curve at the same time: 1250Nm of torque @ 2200-5500rpm. The closest any other production car comes to this staggering figure is Mercedes' CL 65 AMG, which pumps out 1000Nm from its 6.0-litre twin-turbo V12.
The new Bugatti is fitted with a brand-spanking new 7-speed semi-manual transmission, which is operated by paddle shifters located behind the tanned leather steering wheel. On average, the twin-clutch system takes just 0.2 seconds to change gears, which is quicker (on average) than a traditional manual. In the real world, this 736kW and 1250Nm combines with the 7-speed, all-wheel drive transmission and a 1600kg kerb weight to propel the Bugatti Veyron to 100km/h from rest in 2.9 seconds. That's very quick.
If that isn't enough, the four-wheel drive chunk of exotica will hit 300km/h in 14.0 seconds flat and can cruise at 400km/h with ease. The car is electronically limited to 400km/h (248 mph), though if de-restricted the 8.0-litre coupe would be capable of at least 450km/h, perhaps more if the final-drive ratio and fuel-injection mapping was tweeked.
To safely and reliably accelerate to 400km/h, the Veyron makes use of custom-designed Michelin tyres, which utilise what has termed the Pax system. The tyres are capable of dealing with the stress of 400km/h speeds, and they also have a special pressure monitoring system and run-flat capability, so that even in the event of a high-speed puncture, things won't go all pear shaped.
So, at the end of the day, Volkswagen has not only built one hell of a coupe, but it now also has bragging rights to the world's fastest car - and a direct swipe at the likes of McLaren's F1, Lamborghini's Murcielago and Ford's GT.
The Bugatti Veyron is expected to cost roughly ?750,000, which is about $1,300,000 in local currency. It is expected that a handful will make their way to Australia, but most will be sold in Europe.
The new all-wheel drive Veyron has more power than the current crop of Formula One cars, and with its massive 8.0-litre, quad turbo engine, carbon fibre-reinforced chassis and aluminium body panels, there are few cars out there today that combine such technical sophistication with a look that's quite unorthodox, yet strangely appealing.
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