It's the most powerful passenger car on the planet. Also, one of the fastest. And the most likely to bankrupt small South American nations forced to decide between it and, say, a military.

It's the Bugatti Veyron 16.4. Or, rather, the Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport, the targa-topped version of the singular two-seat coupe that's been around since 2005 with its 987-horsepower, quad-turbocharged, W-16 engine, dual-clutch transmission and all-wheel drive.

It's also the most expensive car ever tested by the scribes here at MotorAuthority. We had the special opportunity last week to drive the Grand Sport, in advance of a special edition to come at the Pebble Beach Concours. Bugatti's U.S. sales arm provided us with a silver example for three hours in Greenwich, Connecticut, along with their U.S. marketing manager John Hill and the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to teleport past Honda Accords on the Merritt Parkway.

Today, we're bringing you our exclusive photos from our three-hour tour, brought to you in conjunction with our partners over at The Car Connection. Tomorrow, we'll have a full Motor Authority test drive, and later this month we'll bring you the latest photos of the new Grand Sport from the Pebble Beach Concours.

Then, in September, Bugatti will be showing a new concept--a secret project car that's meant for clients' and dealers' eyes only. That concept won't be coming to the Frankfurt auto show as other sites have reported, but we'll be glued to the Web in case cell phone pics or video leak out. We're also planning on a special trip to Molsheim for the 100th anniversary of the Bugatti brand.

Until then, take in these high-res Veyron photos from our drive, catch TCC editor Marty Padgett on the Fox Car Report, and come back tomorrow for our first road test of the Veyron Grand Sport.

The car is a real show of power: the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport carries the same 987-horsepower, 950-pound-feet, quad-turbocharged, 8.0-liter W-16 engine as the Veyron coupe, but adds a removable targa top and carbon-fiber doors and reinforcements. At 176 inches long, with a wheelbase of about 107 inches, the $2 million Veyron Grand Sport is almost exactly the same size as a Honda Civic sedan--not that you'll miss the extra seats.

The Grand Sport's timeless lines hide the barest of cargo space, along with an umbrella-like roof in the trunk that spares the cockpit when you leave the 40-pound targa panel behind. Aluminum and carbon fiber body parts notwithstanding, the Grand Sport weighs in at a hefty 4387 pounds.

Want to go really, really, really fast? Like, a regional jet on approach? Engage the Veyron's top speed mode with a special key and the car lowers itself for a 253-mph run. Beyond 233 mph, the car's computers decide if conditions are right for an attempt. The thrilling numbers to that point? A 0-60 mph time of 2.7 seconds, a braking time from 60 mph in less than that, and a 5-second 0-60-0 mph elapsed time.

Buy a Veyron and you're in a select group. You'll need $450,000 to guarantee your place in line; another $450,000 comes due when the factory begins building your car. The balance is due prior to delivery. Bugatti will build 150 Grand Sports in all; the first 50 were offered to current Bugatti owners and 30 have already placed their orders.

Owners can customize their Veyron in any imaginable way, and some Middle Eastern clients have come up with some "creative" choices, says U.S. marketing manager John Hill.

Bugatti's Hill promises he's seen 18 mpg on the highway; our mind-blowing runs on the Merritt Parkway pushed his numbers forcefully down, according to the Grand Sport's instant-economy gauge. Premium only, please--fuel as well as clients.

The Grand Sport's interior is snug for two adults--and there's no room at all for luggage except for a minimal space under the front hood. The cockpit has a special place for cell phones on the tunnel, and it's a key part of the car's function. The Veyron sends a stream of data each time it shuts down, alerting the company to speeds driven, mileage, any technical problems, and the car's location. Owners can opt out of the location service if they wish.

There's no typical navigation screen in the Grand Sport: both a rearview camera and the navigation instructions are displayed in the car's rearview mirror, leaving the lovely elliptical center stack to dazzle with a milled finish and a real sense of tradition.


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