The Bugatti Veyron redefines what's possible in a road car, but does it justify its eye-watering price?

Find Used Bugatti Veyron 2005-2015 review deals
Offers from our trusted partners on this car and its predecessors...
Used car deals
From £999,989
Sell your car
In partnership with
Powered by

The Bugatti Veyron's birth was not an easy one, that it came to be because one day Volkswagen tsar Ferdinand Piech had a dream: to provide the world with a car that had 1000bhp, cost one million euros and could do over 400km/h (250mph). To begin with the brief seemed impossible but in Piech’s mind, not something that couldn’t happen.

By 1999 there was a styling proposal and even an engine of sorts, initially with 18 cylinders. By 2000 the styling was clearer and the powerplant had been reduced to 16 cylinders, effectively two 4.0-litre VW V8s. A year later VW announced it was indeed going to build the Veyron and that it would have 1001PS (987bhp) and do over 400km/h. Then the real trouble started.

The Veyron Super Sport redefines what's physically possible in a car with numberplates

The engineers knew that to announce a car with such huge power and speed claims was one thing, but that to make it was entirely another. For a year and a half they tried, and for a year and a half they failed, until eventually Bugatti's boss, Dr Neuman, was ‘removed.’

Then a new leadership team was brought in in late 2003, Dr Wolfgang Schreiber arriving as the new chief engineer. Having previously been in charge of transmissions at VW/Audi he was the bloke responsible for the original DSG gearboxes.

A few months after that Thomas Bscher, merchant banker, Le Mans race driver and well-known financial trouble-shooter, was appointed as president, having been head-hunted personally by then VW boss Bernd Pischetsrieder.

Back to top

Then years later and having changed or re-engineered an incredible 95 per cent of the components, the Veyron became reality. And all of Dr Piech’s original dynamic targets had been hit.

Fast forward a decade and the Veyron's successor made it from paper to production in the form of a 1479bhp, a 260mph plus evolution - otherwise known as the Bugatti Chiron.


Bugatti Veyron air brake
The Veyron's massive air brake helps haul the SS to a standstill from 70mph in just 45.2 metres

The Veyron is a car of engineering beauty, not the visual work of Monet. So it’s no disservice to bluntly describe the Veyron as a weird, insect-like machine with four huge tyres, an absurd number of scoops and winglets along the flanks and across the roof, featuring a distinctive white-and-red badge on the nose that reads ‘Bugatti.’

On the tail are written the letters E and B. On top of the engine, which has no cover and is exposed directly to the air for cooling purposes, are the numbers 16 and four; 16 cylinders, four turbochargers.

The Veyron Super Sport has been substantially re-engineered from the launch car

Which, in case you were wondering, equates to 987bhp and 922lb ft in standard form. It’s numbers like those produced by its 8.0-litre W16 engine (the W configuration suggesting, in effect, two 4.0-litre V8s attached to a common crank) in where the Veyron’s real beauty lies.

Launching a different version of a Veyron is not merely a case of increasing the power or taking the roof off. The world’s fastest version of the world’s fastest car, the Super Sport, for example, is virtually a brand new car in its own right, with everything on it that moves either redesigned or re-engineered over the ‘standard’ 16.4 version.

Asides from more power and torque (up to 1183bhp and 922lb ft), there are extra cooling ducts beneath the headlights and by its huge NACA ducts on the roof. The A-pillars are narrower than on the original Veyron and allow much better visibility from behind the wheel – something that’s needed when you’re going more than 250mph.

The open-top Grand Sport and Grand Sport Vitesse models do without fixed roofs, instead getting a transparent polycarbonate units that weigh 19kg and can be lifted on and off after pushing two release buttons, but cannot be stowed in the car. As a result, Bugatti has incorporated an emergency carbonfibre soft top that can be stowed in the boot and used at speeds of up to 99mph if it rains.

To finish the range off, in 2010, the Bugatti Veyron Supersport was born, which saw this range-topper get an additional 198bhp to take its output to 1187bhp allowin it to reach 268mph as well as being given an eye-watering price tag of over £2 million. 


Bugatti Veyron dashboard
The Veyron's cabin is exquisite, but for £2 million the Super Sport lacks the luxury expected

When you climb aboard the Bugatti Veyron there are no particular physical contortions required of you by the world’s fastest car, as there are in so many so-called supercars. 

You pull on the beautifully crafted aluminium doorhandle, open the door wide and, once you’ve negotiated the highish, thickish sill, insert yourself easily into the seat, crafted from carbonfibre and covered in thick leather.

The cabin offers a sense of occasion, but it should with a price tag of £2 million

This is the most exquisite car cabin on earth, no question, even though the driving position seems intimidatingly low at first and the standard car's A-pillars are so thick there are big blind spots. 

First thing you notice is the beautiful centre console, which is made from a single piece of aluminium and is rumoured to cost around £17,000 all on its own. The drop-top Grand Sport Vitesse is fitted with an even more elaborate unit, constructed from carbonfibre and titanium, doubtless costing several times as much.

The Vitesse also features a windscreen-mounted spoiler to ensure the driver and passenger emerge as immaculately coiffured as they were when setting off.

From behind the wheel the instruments look small and surprisingly fussy, especially the speedometer, yet the overall look is sensational.

The reversing camera display is located within the rear-view mirror, an increasingly common place to put it, but more usually found on family hatches.

Luggage space in the tiny nose-mounted boot is tight, to say the least, but space inside the cabin is more than generous for a two-seat, mid-engined car. There is little point in listing what equipment the car has; whatever you as an owner want, you can have, basically. Except for rear seats.


Bugatti Veyron Super Sport
The Bugatti Veyron Super Sport can reach 220mph in just over 30secs

The Bugatti Veyron boasts a quite extraordinary set of performance figures. After just 2.46sec its reaches 60mph, and barely a couple of seconds after that it bursts into three figures.

But the thing you’ll really struggle to get your head round, the statistic you’ll be boring your mates with for some years to come, is this. If a Veyron set off from a standing start 10 seconds after a McLaren F1 – in which time the F1 will already be travelling at 130mph - the Bugatti reaches 200mph at exactly the same time as the F1. Think about that.

Its unlikely the Autocar records set by the Super Sport will ever be beaten

This sledgehammer delivery is accompanied virtually no wheelspin whatsoever: the Veyron is four-wheel drive.

What there is is noise – a peculiar kind of signature that sounds a bit like two TVR Griffiths on full reheat plus an industrial-strength air hose, all at once. And to accompany this cacophony there is mind-bending, heart-stopping acceleration the like of which has never been felt before in a road car.

Roof off in the Grand Sport, you do get to enjoy the engine note even more, and as a result you feel connected to the car in a way that never happens in the coupe. It soars from 0-62mph in 2.7sec and on to a top speed of 253mph when the roof is in place.

Take the roof off, and that top speed reduces to ‘just’ 223mph. Needless to say, it is sensational either way. Although if that's still not enough, the Grand Sport Vitesse adds another 2mph to the v-max and cuts the 0-62 by 0.1sec, making it that fastest convertible in the world.

The Veyron Super Sport, put simply, is no less than the fastest car we’ve tested. By a very long way indeed. At a stroke, it broke every single speed record we’ve ever kept.

Indeed, it’s the first and only car that we’ve measured up to 220mph, a speed it reaches in just a whisker over 30 seconds.


Bugatti Veyron Super Sport
Surprisingly, the Veyron isn't an intimidating car to drive on the road

Out onto the road and, let’s face it, everything else you do in a Bugatti Veyron is merely part of the process of waiting to see what happens, what it feels and sounds like when, finally, you weld the accelerator to the floor.

Yet despite weighing nearly 1900kg and having more power than any modern F1 car, the Veyron isn’t the liability you’d expect it to be on twisty roads.

The Veyron is surprisingly easy to drive around town

This car handles; really handles. And boy does it stop and steer incisively as well.

If you really start to lean on it there’s a whiff of understeer engineered into the chassis to prevent the tail from taking over; eye-watering body control, too, which is astounding considering how much mass there is to keep in check.

What’s most impressive, however, is the pure composure it has, even over difficult surfaces.

Bugatti says the Veyron is as easy to drive as a Bentley, and they’re not exaggerating. Immediately you notice how smoothly weighted the steering is, and how calm the ride is.

The open-top Grand Sport and Grand Sport Vitesse are surprisingly good cruisers. Bugatti has opted for softer damper settings than on the coupe, reasoning that roadster customers will want a more comfortable ride. Even so, there's the precision of a mid-engined supercar and a suppleness at speed that impresses.

Despite it’s tag as the world’s fastest car, the Veyron Super Sport is not an especially intimidating car to drive quickly on the road. It doesn’t feel especially vast, and such is the accuracy of the steering and the suppleness of the ride that you can thread it down most roads much like most other sport cars.

To further explore what the Super Sport is capable of requires a track. What you’ll find is a car with quite extraordinary traction and, up to a point, massive grip and fantastic body control, but it will also bite the unwary very hard indeed.


Bugatti Veyron
The world doesn't need a car like the Bugatti Veyron, but the fact it exists at all is reason for celebration

Most of us probably won’t be too disposed to sympathising with Bugatti Veyron owners over the maintenance costs they’ll face when running one of these magnificent machines – you practically have to be a billionaire to afford one – but you can understand why anyone might wince at some of the bills that Volkswagen’s finest can run up. 

A routine service, for instance, costs about £14,000 or the price of a middling Polo, whereas an annual service for a Ferrari Enzo is about £1800, which seems like a bargain by contrast. 

Our Super Sport test car averaged 11.6mpg

Buying new rubber for the Veyron will produce similarly heart-freezing bills, a set of four tyres costing £23,500, in part because they have to be capable of 253mph, more than 100mph faster than Concorde’s landing speed.

Worse news still is that at every fourth tyre change the Veyron’s rims must be stress tested for cracks – a sensible precaution in a car this fast – and replaced if they are found wanting at a cost of £7050 per corner.

You also don’t buy a Veyron and worry about the fuel bill but, for the record, our Super Sport test car averaged 11.6mpg with a best of 17.5mpg and worst of 6.0mpg.

For all these reasons, it’s not surprising to learn that one owner has taken to having his Veyron trailered to his favourite roads and following it there by executive jet, an arrangement that works out cheaper than driving the Bugatti several hundred miles to reach the dream tarmac.

All of which is guaranteed to keep the Veyron out of reach of 99.9 per cent-plus of all car buyers, even if it should depreciate colossally. And, despite these maintenance costs, even that looks unlikely.


Bugatti Veyron
The Bugatti Veyron Super Sport has rewritten Autocar's record books

The Bugatti Veyron has recalibrated that which can be achieved by the motor car.

The world almost certainly doesn’t need a car like the Bugatti Veyron. But the fact that it exists in the first place is, we feel, reason in itself to celebrate. It is, after all, the wildest creation on four wheels – the point at which whatever progress has been made by the motor car over the past century can be measured, at its most extreme, its most expensive and, yes, its excessive best.

The Autocar records set by the Veyron Super Sport will not be bettered for years; perhaps decades

So in many ways the Veyron is the best car the world has ever seen. You have to admire Bugatti and VW for a) having the guts to conceive such a monster in the first place and b) for summoning the engineering nous and commitment to produce it.

But in trying to be the best at everything, which it pretty much is, the Veyron fails in the one key area that has defined the great supercars over the years; despite the titanic performance and refinement it doesn’t grab you emotionally like it should. Not like an F40, F1 or even a Murciélago does.

Bugatti’s argument is that it isn’t meant to. The Veyron, says Bugatti, is the supreme technical creation – as refined on the road as it is relentless against the stopwatch – and therefore it isn’t concerned with matters as trivial as emotional involvement or a ripping exhaust note.

And as an engineering achievement that means it will remain unrivalled for years to come, and possibly forever.

But that doesn’t automatically make it the best supercar in the world. The most impressive, yes, undoubtedly. But the most memorable? Not for us. Not quite.

Matt Prior

Matt Prior
Title: Editor-at-large

Matt is Autocar’s lead features writer and presenter, is the main face of Autocar’s YouTube channel, presents the My Week In Cars podcast and has written his weekly column, Tester’s Notes, since 2013.

Matt is an automotive engineer who has been writing and talking about cars since 1997. He joined Autocar in 2005 as deputy road test editor, prior to which he was road test editor and world rally editor for Channel 4’s automotive website, 4Car. 

Into all things engineering and automotive from any era, Matt is as comfortable regularly contributing to sibling titles Move Electric and Classic & Sports Car as he is writing for Autocar. He has a racing licence, and some malfunctioning classic cars and motorbikes. 

Bugatti Veyron 2005-2015 First drives