Here Comes the SS

Super Sport doesn’t begin to describe the muscle behind the 2011 Bugatti Veyron. With two tons and 1,200 horsepower at your disposal, you’ll feel like you rule the world.
By Nick Hall

At one time, the Bugatti Veyron was the fastest, most powerful, most expensive, most near-perfect production car in the world. It was considered a landmark in engineering and the best of its class. Not anymore.

Bugatti has topped itself with the Super Sport. According to the French marque, this new creation was a direct response to customer demand for a more extreme machine. It doesn’t hurt that Pierre-Henri Raphanel took it to 268 miles per hour, reclaiming the production car speed record that was briefly snatched by the Shelby Super Cars Ultimate Aero in 2007.

And though this Super Sport is a middle finger to the world as it stands right now—an economic and environmental Antichrist—that’s a problem for lesser minds to worry about. The Veyron Super Sport isn’t so much a car as it is a teleporter, as a mere tickle of the throttle makes it eat up road. Mash the right pedal and 1,183-brake horsepower (that’s 1,200 horsepower) is unleashed on the road. Most 1,000-brake horsepower cars would simply spin into the nearest tree if handled that way. The Super Sport measures every ounce of the 1,106 foot-pounds of torque and takes off like a bullet.

But it’s so much more than the headline numbers. It storms past 62 mph in 2.5 seconds, 125 mph in 6.7 seconds, and 185 mph in 14.6 seconds—four seconds faster than the “stock” Veyron. Customer cars, sadly, are limited to 258 mph to save the tires, which will cannibalize themselves in 15 minutes at full speed. Perhaps it’s lucky that the car runs out of fuel in 12. The Veyron Super Sport’s majesty lies in the fact that you will run out of nerve, police goodwill, and freedom long before the car runs out of puff.

There is a new aero setup, and under the skin the car gets four bigger turbos, revised cooling to cope with the W-16 (a 16-cylinder piston internal-combustion engine), a quad turbocharged furnace mounted in the middle, a new exhaust, and trick suspension. Even the monocoque sports a lighter, more expensive variety of carbon fiber. They may be small changes, but they add up.

The eight-liter powerhouse explodes into life with noticeably more aggression than the old car. While the 1,001-horsepower version settled into a near-sedate idle, the Super Sport pulsates, throbs, and cusses. But when it comes time to roll and you shift into drive, the Super Sport pulls away smoothly, which is incredible considering how much torque it must contain.

Within minutes we’re doing stupid speeds on single-track roads, but the car is imperious and hides its more than two tons of mass (that’s 4,052 pounds). The weight evaporates at the apex and the car dances through bends with Olympic grace.

Though you’d never even think of driving the Veyron sideways (it’s just too good for those shenanigans), it will crush each corner and blow through faster than any other car could manage. And that’s without sinking into handling mode, which drops the front end to the deck, lifts the rear wing, and opens up a whole new can of crazy.

When we hit the long straight, my passenger, development legend Loris Bicocchi, gives me the metaphorical wink. I plant it; the car kicks down three gears and launches down the road. We hit the 1,200-hp point, and apart from a vicious shudder at 5,000 rpm as the traction control stops the turbo boost from melting the tires, the acceleration is like a constant, violent wave.

With the traction control off, apparently, all four wheels will pour out smoke at this point and melt the Michelin rubber. Then again, if you can afford the $2.2 million price tag for the base car, $2.5 million for the naked carbon-fiber car I drove, or $2.73 million for one of five black and-orange World Record editions, fuel and rubber costs are little-people problems.

It’s a sad fact that only 300 Bugatti Veyrons will be built (only 30 of those will be Super Sports), and as the original was well beyond the driving skills of mere mortals, the extra speed is more about bragging rights than necessity. Still, this is a new landmark, the new benchmark by which all other cars will be measured. Not one will come close.

SPECIFICATIONS
Body style Two-door coupe
Engine Eight-liter W-16 Quad turbo
Power 1,200 horsepower
Torque 1,106 foot-pounds
Transmission Seven-speed DSG; automated manual paddle shift
Front tires 265/35 R 20
Rear tires 365/30 R 21
Curb weight 4,052 pounds
 
PERFORMANCE
0–60 2.5 seconds
Top speed 258 mph
Fuel capacity 26.4 gallons
EPA mpg 7.6 city/18.9 highway
Base Price $2.5 million
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