-Bugatti's topless Veyron, wind in your hair, make that hurricane.
I don't even know what to do with a car like this.
All-wheel drive tech debunked and demystified, how car makers will engineer around this and M3's now and then.
Time to check the tech.
We see cars differently.
We love them on the road and under the hood, but also check the tech and are known for telling it like it is, the good, the bad, the bottom line.
This is CNET On Cars.
Hello everybody and welcome to CNET On Cars, the show all about high tech cars and modern driving.
We start off this episode with a car that frankly and shockingly to many was not exactly at the top of my list of cars to experience.
The Bugatti Veyron because to my mind what more could be said about the most bloviated about car since the Countach.
But when Bugatti called and said we've got one for
you, I thought this could be an interesting chance to see how technology allowed a marriage of violent speed and grocery-getter friendliness.
When you make about the only car in the world that can impress people in Monaco around breakfast time and do the same thing in St.
Moritz at lunch the same day, what do you do for an encore?
You take the top off.
Let's drive the 2013 Bugatti Grand Sport Vitesse and check the tech.
In fact, this is the halo car of halo cars.
Back in 1998, Volkswagen bought up the rights to the Bugatti auto brand name about all that was left of a storied French carmaker that by then was better known for making aircraft landing gear, probably holding up the last jet you flew, but with this move VW set out to prove it's about more than just Jaunty Jettas and Failed Phaetons.
And by 2001, they unveiled the Veyron.
This is its latest iteration.
Now that the Bugatti staff 10 yards away from me and I'll still tell you this car is not exactly conventionally pretty to my eye, but such is the tyranny of aerodynamics.
If you wanna do 250 plus and stay on the surface of the earth, you shape the car exactly as the wind tells you to and do it with a smile.
What's interesting is those who've taken this thing to the limit on the track with the top off always remark
how still it remains in the cabin.
The body is basically all carbon fiber.
You can even order the car finished in a clear coat so everybody knows it.
It seats 2 in front of its massive mid-mounted engine and offers virtually no rear visibility.
You handle blind spots by driving away from them.
Now when you build a car like this, nothing about it is routine.
It's kind of like one big rolling book of bar trivia.
Just at this 1 corner, I could tell you stories for an hour.
These tires for example, they're made to order because no other car uses them
and they're about $25,000 a set and when you replace those every third time, you're advised to replace the wheels as well pushing about 40 grand a set.
Even these valve stems are unique, extra strong springs in them because at 3,000 or so RPM on the wheel and you're at full tilt, conventional valve stem springs would open up and bleed out the tire.
Not good at 200 plus.
When you do get a tune up, most of this outside bodywork has to come off to get to the spark plugs.
On those months,
your mortgage drops to number 2 in the budget.
Now the specs of this car and particularly its engine have been breathlessly overcovered by every blog and car magazine on earth.
So I'm not gonna kill you with that except to talk about the architecture of this guy.
This is an 8-liter quad turbo W16.
The W16 part throws a lot of people.
Here's what it means.
It's basically 2 kind of V8's that are both
Siamesed together sharing 1 crank.
I say kind of V8 because each of these 2 banks of 8 cylinders are sitting in a nested format.
That means they take up less longitudinal room when those two 8-cylinder banks are put together on 1 crank and that means much better packaging.
This engine would be substantially longer and more unwieldy and throw off the balance of this car if it was a traditional architecture.
The result, 1200 horsepower and 1106 foot-pounds of torque.
Yes, both 4
I have never seen that in a car we've reviewed before.
That means this roughly 4400-pound vehicle is quite dense, gets up to 60 in a mere 2.6 seconds.
All of that, thanks to a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission has been beefed up quite a bit for the additional power of this Vitesse going out to all-wheel drive.
There's no other way you could distribute that power otherwise.
MPG if you care is about 8.15.
You don't care.
Now inside this guy it's frankly CNET's nightmare.
We don't have every tech option.
You can get navigation.
They don't make a big deal about it and you can imagine why.
Instead it's a simple set of climate controls, some basic radio, and CD controls.
Good old analog gauges that are real crisp and nicely placed.
There is an iPod connector.
This is relatively new for the Veyrons on a cool little retracting spool reel here.
Why don't other carmakers do that?
So here we are in stop and go traffic in California's wine country and believe it or not this is not wasted footage because I've driven a lot of so-called super cars that have a very un-super gear box, very cantankerous sometimes at this level.
This car has impressed me with its ability to be docile and drive like a slushbox when you want it to and then of course transfer all that power at other times when you want it to.
That's a pretty good trick.
It makes the most amazing sounds.
there's growling, there are these sounds like a medium-caliber handgun going off.
Those are the boost valves on the turbos releasing excess pressure.
Now all this car has been clocked at 254 miles an hour to top off.
It's actually only going to go there if you have a special mode on, a high-speed mode that limits the top speed to a mere 233.
Other people are asking, "Hey, Cooley.
Is it really that fast?" But let me tell you, there's no way you can flex this car on pumping road with any degree of responsibility, really we need to view reality.
Neither at 0 to 60 nor top speed or any other met have much relevance on the street.
About the only icon of its prowess is that the windows automatically raise at 95 miles an hour
at which point you are still in 2nd gear and wondering where that stretch of road went.
And in some strange sense there's almost nothing you can do with this car on a public road you couldn't do in a $70,000 Audi except this.
Pulling up in a Veyron creates an event.
In the space of 20 minutes, I had 1 person offer rather seriously to trade me their child for it.
Several begged to be allowed to sit on it.
Dozens took their picture just near it and a few resentfully and clearly
purposely ignored it.
People react because until that moment it was a myth and because of the price.
Now the fun part.
Let's put a price tag on our little orange friend.
Base is around $2-1/4 million or roughly 45 years of the U.S. median income.
On top of that, there's a $51,000 destination charge because they airfreight these things around via DHL, not kidding.
$6400 gas guzzler tax, you
Had about a 2.6 percent customs duty, I bet you've never seen that on a car bill of sale before.
In the end, this car is phenomenally expensive and you would look at its German engineering, French manufacture, and Italian heritage and see a bar joke coming, but this car most certainly is not one.
For its big company sophistication, brutal yet controlled performance and cheeky open top design, it really is a class of one.
Now we shot most of that Bugatti video on the Napa side of Northern California's famed wine country, pretty much up in our backyard.
I know, spoiled rotten, but if you wanna link to my personal Google map of my favorite roads up there, shoot me an email, OnCars@CNET.com.
You know those 5 star crash ratings, the automakers long ago figured out how to engineer to get as many of them as possible, but lately they've had to go back to the drawing board a bit because
there's a new crash test in town and that's of interest for the smarter driver.
Now in a nutshell, the small overlap crash test means running a vehicle of 40 miles an hour into a stationary object that overlaps about 25 percent of its front.
Now our partner at State Farms say carmakers have done an
amazing amount of work making cars safer for moderate and full-frontal impact but the small overlap stuff they believe could use a bit of work.
While the overlap could be small, the toll is typically big.
Some 25 percent of all fatal and serious injury crashes in this region are the small overlap type.
The research into what happens in a small overlap frontal crash has yielded some interesting
insights into what actually happens in that moment.
First of all, the car tends to come around a lot because the force is so offset to one side.
Secondly, airbag systems can be fooled by this kind of force trying to figure out if it's an impact, a spin, or what and that may cause the airbags to deploy later than is ideal for your safety.
-This vehicle's structure had poor performance.
The wheels press rearward and to the lower part of the engine compartment causing a lot of intrusion into the footwell.
The pillar, the instrument panel, the
steering wheel were also pushed rearward and inboard and this increases injury risk to the occupant.
-Interestingly, the overall results of small overlap crash testing have defied conventional wisdom, the idea that more expensive cars are safer.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that 13 mid-priced, mid-sized cars earned a good or acceptable rating while only 4 from the more expensive luxury or near-luxury mid-sized segment earned the same coveted ratings.
overlap crash test is now part of the math that adds up to those coveted stars for safety.
Coming up, all that all-wheel drive explained, debunked, and demystified when CNET On Cars continues.
We got a lot of great feedback from you in our last episode on our Car Tech 101 that
explained the different types of transmissions.
So this episode, we're heading down the drive line a zip code or two to look at all-wheel drive systems which get fed by those transmissions and there seemed to be as many all-wheel drive systems as carmakers can come up with trademarks for.
There are Car Tech 101.
In the beginning there was 4-wheel drive in 4x4's, tough off-roaders like early Jeeps or Dodge Power Wagons and their guts was a second
gearbox called the transfer case that split the power coming out of the transmission sending it fore and aft and it was controlled by a second gear lever inside and then there were geared hubs.
You had to get out and lock by hand for max off-road traction.
Driving all-wheels then was not for the faint of heart.
But today it's a highly sought after feature in cars as different from a Jeep as this Jag.
Well, 2 main reasons, neither of which will necessarily ever take you off the road.
Weather: In the snow, all-wheel drive is much better than rear-wheel drive or even front-wheel drive to get power through the snow to the road.
Performance: All-wheel drive is much better taking all the engine's power and getting it to the road through the maximum number of wheels to get around the corner fastest or just off the line.
This Jaguar XJ is a good example of both modes.
It all-wheel drive system biases the power mostly to the rear wheels by default, but when wheel slip is detected, up to 50 percent
of the car's power is sent to the front wheels usually before you even know it's needed there.
Rear-wheel drive is the classic layout for great handling except in snow where it tends to spin and slip and leave you stranded.
Most cars today are front-wheel drive mostly for efficiency reasons, but that also does tend to lend better snow traction, but both the 2-wheel drive systems lead half the wheels largely unused and both suffer from cornering issues, either oversteer when the rear of the car wants to come around
in a corner or understeer when the front ends sort of ploughs to the outside of a corner.
Enter all-wheel drive.
You know Subaru for their obsession with all-wheel drive today but you may not know they started all this.
1971, the Leone, the first regular car that had all-wheel drive stuck under it for the first time you could drive something that wasn't a truck and get out of almost any kind of trouble on the road.
Then in 1980 all-wheel drive got cool with the arrival of the Audi
Quattro and its eponymous all-wheel drive system.
Its rally car DNA completely repositioned all-wheel drive as something you didn't just use a few days in the winter.
It opened consumer's eyes that all-wheel drive is a performance thing.
Then in 2004, Honda brings out Super Handling All-Wheel Drive, the first that could bias power not just between the front and rear-wheels sets but also differently across the left and right rear wheels using power for cornering in a completely new way that is still cutting edge.
-Simultaneous and continuous control ensures that the optimum amount of torque is always distributed to each of the 4 wheels.
-Now this '13 Pathfinder is a good example of how cars have technology that allows all-wheel drive to become much more gentrified to be honest.
You don't need to understand anything about low range or locking hubs to get the most out of the system.
Check it out.
Here's what's it come to.
You got a knob now that handles all-wheel drive.
No more big old levers and transfer case handles.
defaults to auto which is very telling you can also roll it to 2-wheel drive or put it in lock if even know what that's for.
Typically, you'll leave it in auto.
It'll figure out the rest.
I first saw this on Land Rovers.
They have what they call terrain response control.
You rotate this knob to rock or mud or snow.
Jeeps do something similar, but eventually I think this highly simplified control is the real harbinger of the future and after this the computer will figure out what you're stuck in and it will do that knob's job for you.
Now a reality check.
All-wheel drive is not just milk and honey and traction and cornering.
It's got some downsides.
All-wheel drive adds a fair amount of serious hardware over front or rear-wheel drive and that can add a couple of thousand bucks or more to the MSRP.
Complexity: All-wheel drive does create more to go wrong and more that has to be shoehorned underneath the belly of a car.
Efficiency: All-wheel drive cars may give up an MPG or 3 on the highway or on city fuel economy due to both
added weight as well as more hardware to be turning all the time depending how the system is designed.
The rear-wheel drive will still have its place in particularly performance automobiles, front-wheel drive will remain the mainstream drive system for most cars, but all-wheel drive is getting closer to being there partly because the cost is now fairly modest to add it on and partly because it's become so much easier to use.
The seamless digitized transparent sort of think
for you systems have made all-wheel drive a lot more approachable for a lot more drivers.
If it weren't for the cost penalty and some MPG penalty, it would be the pinnacle of getting power to the road.
Now you can argue the merits of one all-wheel drive system or the other all day but if you really wanna get into a religious war, put yourself between the owner of a vintage and a modern M3, easier to get the careers together, but Alex Goy of XCAR takes on the task.
automotive staples go, the BMW M3 is a pretty good one.
We've got 2 fine examples of the breed right here, it's origin and well it's most extreme version to date.
First up though, the E30.
The E30 M3 looks to the untrained eye much like a boggo E30, but then you noticed its bigger arches there to fit a wider track and bigger wheels.
It's got 12 different body panels over the standard car mostly believe it or not for aerodynamics.
Though it doesn't look like an aerodynamic dream here, does it?
The E30 M3 was launched in 1986 and was the first ever M3.
That makes it well 26 years old.
Before the paradigm is set, by 1972's 3-liter CSL take a normal car, add a little bit more go and then enter it into Europe's various touring car championships.
And as it happens, the E30 is one of the most successful touring cars ever which is really quite something.
There were lots of versions of the E30 M3.
You got the Coupe which we have here, the convertible then the Evolution I, II, and III.
Power came from either a 2.3 or a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine.
Power ranged from 192-brake horsepower to 241.
And the one we have here is a 215-break horsepower car so it allegedly
do now to 62 in 6.7 seconds and 143 miles an hour which is well, really quite impressive.
The steering is so direct but it basically because it's from a racecar.
It really is wonderful.
You get so much feedback from the wheel.
One of my favorite bits about this car is its dogleg gearbox there.
So what you can do is go okay.
Slow down for the corner into 2nd, out of there into 3rd, power out, jobs
Anyway, let's have a go in the GTS.
The M3 GTS is the ultimate road going M3 to date.
It's interior is stripped.
It weighs 75 kilos less than a normal M3 weighing in at just over 1500 kilos.
It has a fire extinguisher, a roll cage, less soundproofing than a normal M3, 19-inch alloys, a glorious titanium exhaust, and a wing the size of a coffee table.
With everything about this car is essentially an
M3 turned up to 11.
There's more power, more noise.
The brakes have more.
The suspension is harder compared to a regular M3, that E30, well the E30 is usable.
It's a racecar for the road or it was in its time, but it's usable, it's comfortable and this just shows how far race tech has come along.
And that's not great for the road because it is so uncomfortable.
It is unforgiving.
The speed is unrelenting.
It just happens to you.
You put your foot down.
The steering though is very lovely.
The brakes are very responsive.
This is a play thing for people with lots of money who like track driving.
So there you have it.
26 years of M3 evolution which is best well I say to each their own, but personally I'm gonna take the old girl home because know what they say about age and experience.
XCAR videos including a great piece on the vintage BMW M1 on YouTube in the XCARFilms channel.
Coming up, my top 5 cars of the year so far when CNET On Cars continues.
-If you happen to see this trim little buggy zoom up and quickly swing into a tight parking spot, you'll be looking at a remarkable new car.
The Davis 3-wheeler.
-Looking all the stereotype of post-war futurism, this Davis 3-wheeler actually caught our eye for what's underneath, a set of built-in hydraulic jacks to make changing a tire a lot easier.
-It logically incorporates several aircraft principles such as adaptation of the tricycle landing gear system.
-Not to mention how just 3 wheels means one less to go flat.
-And makes tire changing an exhilarating experience.
-In the late 60's and much of the 70's, deflated space
saver spares were the rage, pumped up when needed with this sort of dangerous-looking can of high-pressure air.
By the 80's and 90's, the pre-inflated funny wheel or skinny spare replaced that idea but with limited range, speed, and safety.
Run flat tires that don't even need a spare never really took off.
Though Honda gave them a run and BMW still uses them rather widely.
-Even with a puncture, you can still cover at least 80 kilometers at a speed of 80 kilometers an hour.
-But today car
makers have increasingly given up on spares altogether equipping cars with a can of sealant, a pump, and a hardy good luck.
-Once inflated to the right pressure, you can drive straight away.
If it consistently stays low, then the tire is too badly damaged and you will need to arrange recovery.
-You know the one I get all the time, it's hey what do you like you've driven lately?
And then I'll give someone a lift at the top of my head and watch that look of puzzlement take over their face because I like
cars of all kinds.
Many of which you never hear mentioned in the same breath with the others, but it makes for a great top 5. Number 5, the Mazda 6, the new one.
Let's give the Miata a rest for a minute and shine some light on this all-new 6. It went from 0 to 60 in terms of styling inside and out.
It was once of the dopiest looking cars in its class.
Now it's about the most handsome and possibly most comfortable.
SKYACTIV engine technology is very smart but a little hard to explain to consumers in less than half an hour and it's not a standout as a sporting car, but I'll tell you what.
I think I would drive past a slew of Toyota and Honda dealers if I was in the market for a mid-sized sedan.
This guy is worth a look.
Number 4, the BMW 750Li we're raising the price here a bit.
I love the 750 because it's a big car that gets smaller when you press it.
At one moment it's this big pompous opulent thing that says
yes, I make more money and the time it takes you to key this car than you'll make all day, and then it turns into this quick nimble road machine at a moment's notice and then back again.
The styling has been sexier and the price lower, but the long wheelbase 750 is really a car for all seasons.
Number 3, the new Beetle Cabrio.
I'm a big enough man to admit I love this new, new, new Beetle?
I've lost track.
The ragtop no less, I was
expecting a disaster like the VW Eos but instead I found a really nice driving car with real drivable power, great audio, a convertible top that makes you laugh at the weather, and the styling the new Beetle should've had from the beginning.
It's a fun car without being silly.
VW's cabin tech remains nothing to write home about, but the coming iBettle version from VW and Apple should change that.
Number 2, the Subaru BRZ.
The BRZ is
a simple proposition.
It's meant to zip along twisty roads making a great noise, hanging its little rump out once in a while and inviting you to use all of its umph, which isn't much at 200 horse and 151 foot-pounds of torque.
But that's what sports cars are all about, being a little bit less so you connect with the road a little bit more.
The cabin of the BRZ has none of the charm of classic sports cars and if you're over 30 everyone will think you're borrowing your kid's car when you drive by, but for 25 grand or
so, you'll have enough left over to buy a Mazda 6 as well.
For number 1 favorite car so far in 2013 is the head-turning Cadillac ATS.
Cadillac has for a while had this inferiority complex about the Europeans, really the Germans.
It's a neurosis recent Caddies have been healing but they've never been quite able to wash off the stink of the Tommy Bahama set.
The ATS does it.
It's the first really honest original Cadillac in a long time.
Completing this path of
redemption they started back in 1999.
It doesn't just exist as a comparison to something from Germany that's it almost as good as.
CUE is one of the most promising cabin tech platforms out there.
2 of the 3 engines they offer on this car are modern and very cool and Cadillac has finally dialed down that creased and chromed look to great effect.
I can live without the driver seat that vibrates these nonsensical warnings to your butt and I sort of wished the rear wheels were driven, but in general Cadillac had
stopped seeing its shrink.
Thanks for watching the show today and don't forget a lot more episodes await you at CNETOnCars.com and you can email me.
That's OnCars@CNET.com straight to my inbox.
Look for our feed links, social media, all that stuff also on the website.
See you next time when we check the tech.