There are all sorts of crazed statistics about the new $3.1m Bugatti Veyron Super Sport with which you can fray the outer edges of your imagination. Quite apart from the fact that it boasts 198hp beyond that of the regular 987hp Veyron and can do 268mph, when the crankshaft of this car's 8.0-liter W16 engine is rotating at precisely 6400rpm in seventh gear, it will quaff its way through a 100-liter tank of fuel in just under eight minutes.
The W16 quad-turbo engine also develops its maximum torque figure the entire time between 3,000 and 5,000rpm, so there is no torque "peak" as such. How much twisting power does it actually generate? How does 1105lb-ft grab you? Or, to put it another way, close to twice as much as a Noble M600.
But the number to end all numbers concerning the Super Sport, the one that will stop you in your tracks and make you either laugh or cry, is this: In the same time that it takes a McLaren F1 to get from rest to 200mph, the Veyron SS can go from zero to 200mph and back again – and then do zero to 60mph as well. Think about that for a moment – and then think about it for a little while longer.
There will be just 30 Veyron Super Sports in total, each one handmade at Bugatti's small factory in Molsheim, at the foothills near the woods of Alsace. So far Bugati has sold some 260 Veyrons since the original planned batch of 300 went on sale in 2005. Think of the Super Sport therefore as the last and final version – the best version no less – of the world's best car.
What's perhaps most amazing of all about this most amazing of cars, however, is that despite its heart-wrenching, lung-bursting performance, it is also quite incredibly civilized to drive. Such was Bugatti's desire to provide the Super Sport with a refined personality, the overall impression you get after spending a day at the wheel is indeed one of supreme luxury.
When you put your foot down and feel your internal organs squeezed to one side under the sheer g-force, there is also the unique, rather lovely sensation of sitting in your favorite armchair in your favorite lounge while doing so. And in the end it is the Veyron Super Sport's pure breadth of ability that separates it so completely from the rest of the automotive world – the fact that it can throw you at the horizon with sufficient force to make you feel physically uncomfortable, while at the same time providing you with the sights, sounds and smells of the most luxurious car money can buy.
By fitting bigger turbos, bigger intercoolers and improving the way it breathes, Bugatti was able to generate the extra power and torque required without trying too hard at all. What needed rather more time, effort and re-engineering skill was making sure the powertrain remained cool enough when on full reheat – as did the retuning of the chassis, suspension, braking and steering systems. And, most crucially of all, the aerodynamic package as well.
Because the Super Sport accelerates that much faster than the regular Veyron, the speed and angle at which it deploys its various wings had to be completely re-calibrated – otherwise, says Bugatti, the car would have become "terminally unstable" before it got anywhere near its top speed. Hence the reason the massive bi-plane wing now emerges from the redesigned rear bodywork at 112mph and at a different speed/angle compared with the standard car, whose wing doesn't appear until 137mph.
You can genuinely feel the difference on the move, too. The Super Sport very obviously has more straight-line performance than before; however fast you think it might feel when you put your foot to the floor and hold it there for a few seconds, double it, add another 100 percent and you still won't be anywhere near. Yet despite its ability to go into hyperspace harder and faster than the standard car, the Super Sport's extra high-speed stability and, surprisingly, its superior ride comfort (afforded by a set of ultra-trick new Sachs dampers) are every bit as apparent as its extra go.
And that's before you even mention its gearbox, which remains, in my humble opinion, the stand-out item in a car that hits quite a few peaks. The speed and smoothness with which the Super Sport shifts gears, up or down its seven ratios, is absolutely and completely extraordinary. The fact that it has 1105lb-ft of torque to deal with while doing so proves, more than any other aspect of this incredible car, just how big an achievement the Veyron – Super Sport or otherwise – actually is.
As swansongs go the Veyron Super Sport will take some beating. Of the other 25 Super Sports that Bugatti will make over the next two years, just six cars remain unsold. Let's hope – no, let us pray that there's more to come from Planet Molsheim in the months and years to come.Steve Sutcliffe/Autocar