Last year’s Pebble Beach Concours d’ Elegance in California was the setting for the very first public presentation of the new Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport. The response was extremely positive and now production of this roadster – limited to 150 units – is to begin at Molsheim. At the same time, the media and customers are taking their first test drives.
The new Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport confronted the marque renowned for impeccable automotive solutions, aesthetics and driving dynamics with a completely new set of challenges. In response to customer demand, significant modifications have been made to the vehicle’s complex structure to enable open-top driving, thereby adding a new dimension to this high-performance sports car. Incorporating a host of new and innovative safety and equipment features, it is the world’s fastest and most exciting roadster. It is immediately recognizable because of its slightly higher windscreen, stylized daytime running lights, and lightweight, transparent polycarbonate roof.
The main challenge in developing the new Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport with its removable roof resulted from the unique structure of the fixed-roof Bugatti Veyron. An optimum combination of rigidity and lightweight engineering ensures the monocoque passenger cell of the original model is extremely strong, while weighing an absolute minimum. As the roof is an integral part of the vehicle’s structure, removing it meant the load paths had to be completely redesigned to maintain the vehicle’s rigidity and crash safety, and to offer additional protection from side impacts and rolling.
As a result, the monocoque structure has been reinforced around the side skirts and the transmission tunnel. The B-pillars have been cross-stiffened using a carbon fibre support, and a central carbon plate has been positioned beneath the transmission tunnel to ensure the vehicle suffers from less torsional flexing than any other roadster.
The doors of the new Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport are made of carbon fibre, and house an integrated longitudinal beam. In the event of an accident, this transfers the load from the A to the B-pillar, thereby dissipating impact energy. Furthermore, the two redesigned air intakes for the 16-cylinder mid-engine now feature 10-centimetre wide carbon-fibre elements to offer protection in the event of a roll.
Along with moisture-resistant, backstitched leather, a range of new equipment features has been added to the interior, including a reversing camera with 2.7-inch monitor integrated in the rear-view-mirror, and the “Puccini” sound system with digital signal processor.
When the roof is closed, the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport can reach 407 km/h, while speeds of up to 360 km/h are possible with the roof off. Should it rain, an innovative soft-top roof, like an umbrella, stored in the luggage compartment, can be opened up at any time. With this soft top in place, the car can travel at up to 160 km/h.
More than just an open Veyron
“When I had the chance to test-drive the new Grand Sport for the first time myself, I was filled with excitement”, said Pierre Henri Raphanel, Bugatti’s Pilot official, “as soon I shifted into second gear, I knew this was a completely different car. I could immediately feel the difference. Even with the roof still on, in the tips of my fingers and at the base of my spine everything was more present, more intimate. More precise with less understeer, almost as if you had taken away some filters from the suspension and the steering.” The former Le Mans winner has probably driven more kilometres in a Veyron than anyone else, presenting the car to numerous customers and the press. Taking off the roof “the excitement comes directly from the engine – giving you the feeling that you had a horsepower factory just thirty centimetres behind your head, trying to suck you up and swallow you,” he raves.
Assembled by hand at the company’s headquarters in Molsheim, Alsace, the Grand Sport will be delivered from July 2009 onwards at a price of 1.4 million euros (excluding taxes and transportation). Just 150 units will be made, with the first 50 of these going exclusively to registered Bugatti customers. So far 30 Grand Sports have been ordered. The Chassis Number one auctioned at the Pebble Beach Auction by Gooding and Company last summer and sold for $3.19 million. The additional revenues of $900,000 were donated by Bugatti to the Pebble Beach Company Foundation Charity.
Model: Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport
Engine: 8.0 litre W16
Maximum Power: 987 hp (736 kW) @ 6000 rpm
Maximum Torque: 922 lb-ft (1250 Nm) @ 2200 rpm
Transmission: Seven-speed sequential manual
Drivetrain: All-wheel drive