Haute Auto : Bugatti & Maserati

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Record-Setting Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse: The Art of Seduction

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“With an open top, you can really experience the sound of the engine and yet even at higher speeds I did not get compromised by the wind at all.”

Art, form and technique synthesized from the ultimate marriage of precious metals, design and machinery have been manifested into one of the most glorious vehicles of this century. Make no mistake, this was an international move from the ingenious mind of the great Italian artisan Ettore Bugatti, who focused more on design than engineering. As seductive as Bugatti vehicles are today, they were equally salient as historical archetypes in the heyday of the roaring 1920s. Upscale, costly and much talked about, Bugatti won many races – nearly 2,000 in ten years. Decades later, we’re welcoming the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse, which recently set the world speed record for convertible production vehicles at 254.04 mph.

Available since the Spring of 2012, the Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse is presented in carbon-fiber form and houses an 8-liter, W16 engine, which generates an obliterating 1200 horsepower. It’s the classic fable of beauty meets the beast, or simply put the world’s fastest convertible. A racing chassis, AWD and a speedspecific roof spoiler infuse the French roadster with the assets needed to maintain controlled, high-speed velocity.

History tells us that the Veyron bears the name of factory driver Pierre Veyron, who won Le Mans in 1939 in the T 57C Tank before World War II . Ironically, Veyron was chosen from all of the great Bugatti drivers only because his name sounds good in multiple languages and there were no problems registering it. Built intentionally to be an everyday driving vehicle first, a Grand Sport was an open top vehicle with a reinforced structure featuring one door. Naturally, it was the cream of the crop. Henceforth, parent company VW transformed the Veyron platform into a technical wonder. I can personally attest to the Grand Sport’s endorphin-producing technology, after piloting this model on several occasions. I’ve never felt acceleration that was so powerful, yet also liquid. Also, normally a supercar like this is frankly uncomfortable to drive – but words almost cannot describe the experience of driving the Grand Sport. The 29-year old Chinese driver Anthony Liu, who piloted the actual record-setting Vitesse, put it best; “This was a very exciting moment. In our training sessions we exceeded 400 km/h but the fact that I could surpass this unbelievable speed once again and even higher has made me very proud. The car is even at such high speeds incredibly comfortable and stable. With an open top, you can really experience the sound of the engine and yet even at higher speeds I did not get compromised by the wind at all.”

For eight lucky individuals with deep pockets, the World Record Car (WRC ) Edition in black and orange will be obtainable for 1.99 million euros plus tax. Yet, I wonder how many of them will engage the Frenchman into orbit like Liu!


2014 Maserati Ghibli: Disciplined Advantage

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We all know about the innovative Maserati brothers, who began in Bologna, Italy as racecar manufacturers in 1905. Their Trident-badged Italian models are graceful works of art, with alluring, curvaceous and flowing lines. Currently, the legendary automaker continues to employ the equally renowned Pininfarina Italian design house for the styling of their attractive vehicles.

Recently, Maserati has made great strides in creating more mainstream awareness in the world of high-end luxury sports cars. Their mission is not fixated on all-out acceleration or becoming a fullfledged sportscar; rather, they are honing the ability to go fast intelligently. Especially since Maseratis are not typically light vehicles. Yet, their weight distribution is perfectly balanced, and their reputation is honored with prestige and character. Once inside the cockpit there is no sense of urgency. Supple leathers, refined woods, interchangeable trims and contrast stitching offer title holders a key advantage, with its disciplined beauty and admirable performance. To expand upon this philosophy another member of the family has manifested in the form of a 4-door executive sports sedan titled Ghibli (shown in Bianco Alpi with a Rosso interior).

Maserati says the Ghibli will have a sportier character compared to the larger Quattroporte, and will help them achieve a growth plan of 50,000 cars per year. The vehicle will be available with two turbocharged 3-liter V6 engines, an 8-speed automatic transmission, and both RWD and an all-wheel drive platform dubbed “Q4.” A V6 turbo-diesel will introduce itself as the first diesel in the company’s history.

Aesthetically, the body is alluring, with an aerodynamically- enhanced front end. We suspect it will feature LE D lighting technology since Maserati actually made the first production vehicle (3200 GT) with LE Ds in 1998. This is the vehicle that began the renaissance for the Italian brand.

Ghibli is the reprise of a late 1960s Maserati coupé and convertible name, and refers to a Mediterranean wind. In fact, there are a number of classic Maseratis named after winds, such as the Bora and Mistral.

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