Concentrate on the road. Look for stop signs nestled among leafy trees. Ignore a few salient facts that are knock-knock-knocking at your consciousness. For instance, don't dwell on the whooshing eruption from the quad-turbo-charged engine, which sounds ominously like a full-throttle jet. That is the noise of a 1,200-horsepower engine that wants to take you to a top possible speed of 255 miles per hour. Focus instead on your driving technique. Definitely try not to think about this: Depending on that day's euro-dollar exchange rate, the car you're piloting is worth some $2.5 million. Especially since you're driving it like you stole it.
The car is the Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse and it is the world's fastest convertible, warping to 60 mph in 2.5 seconds.
Those rare buyers able to pony up the money for the Creamsicle-orange Vitesse I'm driving today (the only one currently in the United States) will also have to ignore a few salient facts. The foremost is they will probably never find a road to approach that top speed.
More likely they'll find themselves ambling through Monte Carlo's famous tunnel or streaking down desert roads in the United Arab Emirates, or, like me, rolling down Connecticut lanes outside Greenwich, which has a Bugatti dealership. There are some good roads out here, but none that will brook the Vitesse's might. After all, second gear will send you past 90 mph.
Why is the car so expensive, why would a car company make a car with such a top speed, why would anyone buy it?
The answer is hubris, all around.
The Veyron is the only model now offered by Bugatti, part of the Volkswagen Group, which also owns Audi, Porsche, Bentley and Lamborghini. The company wanted to create a car so fast, so powerful, that it would be a shot heard around the automotive world.
In 2006, we saw the first 1,001-hp Veyron, which was so technology-laden it seemed better suited to launching into space than rolling out on the highway. The Veyron Super Sport model then got a bump in power to 1,200 horsepower. The new Vitesse is the convertible version.
You buy the Veyron for the direct link from the accelerator to your endorphin receptors. So go ahead and trip the light fantastic. G forces deform your face, and your brain stutters, trying to process faraway objects suddenly rushing at you. There are no pauses as the gears shift, just a seamless crush of relentless forward motion.
This is not a car. It's the world's most expensive rollercoaster ride.
Several years ago I tested the regular Veyron Grand Sport, with 1,001 hp. So I was somewhat prepared for the speed. That car, though, underwhelmed me as far as actual handling. It felt bulky and unwieldy in turns.
The Super Sport and Vitesse got reworked suspensions. Since my roads will not allow high-speed runs, I concentrate instead on negotiating the corners with maximum smoothness.
I marvel over my self-control. The car sings through the turns and I keep a light touch on the gas.
Then I approach a straightaway and something comes knock-knock-knocking into my consciousness. I'm probably never going to get this chance to drive a Veyron again.
I floor it.