From Zero to Awesome: The Bugatti Veyron 16.4

Our ridiculously lucky automotive editor drove this $1.3-million dollar ride from San Francisco to L.A. Now he can die happy.

Click "View Photos" at left to come along on PopSci's test drive of the impossibly fast Bugatti Veyron 16.4.

How was the Veyron drive, you ask? Absolutely unbelievable. Otherworldly. Achieved amazing velocities in the California desert and could have gone much faster were it not for traffic visible miles down the road-and, of course, the fact that these were public roads. At high speeds (the 'ron tops out at 250mph and does 0-60mph in 2.5 seconds), my companion, Bugatti pilote officiel Pierre-Henri Raphanel, looked absolutely bored. Not because he necessarily had faith in me as a driver, or that he routinely drives fast in this car and is a former LeMans and F1 driver, but because he had absolute confidence in the car itself. It is rock-steady at every speed. The DSG transmission produces completely uninterrupted, linear acceleration. Your head doesn't bob at each gear change-you can't even feel it happening. It just goes, like a rocket sled. There's a gauge on the dash that shows how much horsepower you're using at any given moment, from 0 to 1001 horses. At full boogie, in triple-digit speeds, the effect is thunderous.

To get a sense of how priviledged PopSci was (and I was) to get this ride, consider: The company sold 30-minute drives at a charity auction recently for $10,000, and 12 people bought them.

Perhaps best of all, the car has a hypnotizing effect on onlookers. Everywhere we stopped, a crowd gathered. Truck drivers knew it by name: "That the Vy-rin?" I stopped counting cell phone cameras after ten minutes. At the end we drove down Mulholland drive, then through Malibu, and I felt like a complete rock star.

Look for more in-depth coverage of the Veyron in the coming months in PopSci.

by Eric Adams

Even when stopped on Mulholland Drive, the thing still looks like it's going 250.Eric Adams

by Eric Adams

Stopping on Mulholland Drive for pictures-a young kid in a Mustang stopped as well, to admire both views.Eric Adams

by Eric Adams

Yours truly with my-er, their-Boog.Eric Adams

by Eric Adams

With a 16-cylinder, 1,000 horsepower engine, we had to stop for gas, of course. The car averages 12 mpg. At full-throttle, it's roughly 4 mpg.Eric Adams

by Eric Adams

My escort from Bugatti, Pierre-Henri Raphanel, their official test-driver.Eric Adams

by Eric Adams

The driver can shift using either the shift knob or the two wheel-mounted paddles. The Veyron can also be driving in fully automatic mode-and is docile enough that even grannies can put the pedal to the metal without spinning out of control.Eric Adams

by Eric Adams

Cruising at speed in the California desert.Eric Adams

by Eric Adams

The Veyron's 16-cylinder, 1,001 horsepower engine uses four turbochargers and 12 radiators. The duel-clutch DSG transmission is amazing-it produces completely uninterrupted, linear acceleration.Eric Adams

by Eric Adams

Met the chaps from Bugatti at the lovely St. Regis hotel, where the Veyron seemed quite at home.Eric Adams