Meet the Bugatti Veyron, the 400km/h super-supercar

A close encounter with this vehicular god at the Melbourne Motor Show left us weak at the knees.

No, we didn't get to drive it at 400km/h, nor did we even get to drive it, but a close encounter with this vehicular god at the Melbourne Motor Show was enough to leave us weak kneed.

Even those who know little about cars are awestruck by the car's off the wall styling. From its horse-shoe style grille all the way to its rounded rump, the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 -- to give it its full name -- is impossibly low, voluptuous and outrageously styled.

Although the Veyron on display at the 2008 Melbourne Motor Show isn't finished in the car's distinctive two-tone paint scheme, it had its rear spoiler deployed for a speed run. Coupled with the car's other aerodynamic devices, the spoiler should provide enough downforce to prevent the Bugatti from lifting off as you approach v-max.

The Veyron is a dream-child of VW's ex-chief, Dr. Ferdinand Piech; the VW Auto Group owns Bugatti, in addition to Audi, Bentley, Lamborghini, Seat and Skoda. Only 300 Veyrons will hand assembled in a designer factory in the town of Molsheim, France, close to the German border. The site was chosen not just to allow workers to view the nearby Vosges Mountains through the tall glass windows on the factory floor, but because it is close to Chateau St. Jean, the company's spiritual home.

Technically, the car is nothing short of amazing. There are ten radiators scattered around the Veyron -- a normal car has one, two or maybe three -- to cool the air-con, transmission, differential, as well as the engine. Speaking of the engine, it has two V8s joined together in a loose "W" shape to create a sixteen-cylinder behemoth. If you have to ask about the fuel economy figures, you're clearly not rich enough to own one.

To give this car some perspective, we've compiled a little cheat sheet, pitting the Veyron against Australia's biggest selling car, the Holden Commodore, and the top dog of Porsche's 911 family, the GT2.

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Bugatti Veyron 16.4

Porsche 911 GT2

Holden Commodore SS-V Price €1 million (AU$2.5 million) AU$425,700 AU$52,790 Engine 8.0-litre W16 3.6-litre boxer six 6.0-litre V8 Power 736kW @ 6,000rpm 390kW @ 6,500rpm 270kW @ 5,700rpm Torque 1,250Nm @ 2,200-5,500rpm 680Nm @ 2,000-4,500rpm 530Nm @ 4,400rpm Weight 1,888kg 1,440kg 1,790kg Driven wheels Four-wheel drive Rear-wheel drive Rear-wheel drive 0-100km/h 2.5 seconds 3.7 seconds 5.9 seconds 0-200km/h 7.3 seconds 11.2 seconds not quoted 0-300km/h 16.7 seconds not quoted not quoted 0-400km/h 55.6 seconds not quoted not quoted Maximum speed 407km/h 329km/h 250km/h

Let's face it, there's no real point in making a road-legal car that can do 400km/h, albeit under strictly controlled conditions (think a tyre change and a VW-approved race track), except to show that you can. That doesn't diminish the strength of Bugatti's achievement though.

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