It’s such a rare sight in South Africa that have a better chance of seeing a mythical unicorn than you have of seeing the world’s quickest and most desirable supercars on our roads. What makes the Bugatti Veyron so desirable, so expensive and so fast? It has a history as complex as they come and it delivers performance second to none on the planet.

The development of the Veyron has been described as one of the key milestones in modern automotive engineering. It was the brainchild of Volkswagen CEO Ferdinand Piëch, and when he decided to create a car that could set the roads on fire he gave his engineers a set of unfathomable demands. The designers were to ring to life the heritage of Ettore Bugatti in this new super sports car, and create something the world had never seen before.

Part of that challenge was to put together a serial production vehicle with a top speed above 400km/h and 736kW of power – previously unachieved. Yet the Veyron 16.4 did all of that and also managed to unite elegant form with high-tech function, grace with power, and aesthetics with safety in perfect harmony.

The Bugatti Veyron is that rare thing: a combination of beauty and power so potent it might set the tar on fire!

The Veyron’s exterior styling is classic Bugatti, yet has enough of its very own modern style to give it that futuristic look and appeal. Innovations for top performance, high acceleration capacity, and an extensive security system are signature elements of this super sports car. In the past Ettore Bugatti occasionally made technical compromises for the sake of aesthetic integrity, but in the new Veyron this was the only tradition that was broken in the development of the 16.4.

The Veyron is a 16-cylinder four-wheel drive car that boasts a maximum speed of more than 400km/h, making it nearly unmatched in the super sports category. It offers a total of 736kW of power and it has ample power reserves even at high speeds. For you to maintain a constant speed of 250km/h, the Veyron only needs around one quarter of its available power.

The Veyron has ceramic brakes that can slow it down faster than it can accelerate. While it takes this exceptional car only 2.5 seconds to go from 0 to 100km/h, it needs even less time – a mere 2.3 seconds – to come to a standstill from 100km/h. The brakes can withstand heat of up to 1800°C.

To reduce the risk of injuries in accidents, Bugatti had a Formula 1 safety concept adapted for the Veyron. All these technical details combine to make the Veyron a truly exceptional super sports car. The Veyron even uses special Michelin PAX tyres found on no other car. The rear wheels are 36cm wide, twice as wide as a normal car, and if you require replacements the Veyron needs to be shipped to France, a process that can cost more than R630 000!

The Veyron has a seven-speed DSG gearbox that provides a smooth transmission and performance all the way through the gears to the very top end. It works with a torque amount of 1,250Nm. The fuel consumption is not even worth mentioning as the owners of this multi-million dollar car can afford the petrol, but for the sake of pure interest, Bugatti’s website says that on a combined cycle the Veyron 16.4 will use about 24.9l/100km driven. In town that number rockets to 41.9l/100km and you may be able to get it down to 15.6l/100km on the open road. A scary fact about the fuel in a Veyron is that if you run the car flat out at top speed, the 98-litre fuel tank will be bone-dry in 12 minutes. That comes from a special fuel pump system that can pump fuel eight times faster than a normal car. The CO2 emissions are as high as nearly any other car on the market, with a combined amount of 596g/km, but the Veyron isn’t a car for every-day driving, so don’t worry too much about destroying the environment.

Interestingly, the Veyron produces enough ‘wasted’ energy from running the 16.4-litre engine at full speed that you could use the same amount of energy to heat ten family homes in the winter. It takes 15 hours to build one radiator for the Veyron and each car has 10 of them. The Veyron is split into three parts and only held together with 14 bolts, and it takes eight days to weld together its fuel tank.

Ferdinand Piëch was described as a mad man when he envisioned the Veyron, but VW and Bugatti have done what very few have ever been able to in any field of engineering: create something none thought was possible and open the world’s eyes to the power of human ingenuity.