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Lupo beats Veyron in road ‘race’

The pick: Engineer Ric Tamba suggest that a humble VW Lupo is more suitable for trans-continental jaunts than the monstrous Bugatti Veyron because of its fuel-sipping ways.

Engineer reveals some secrets of the world’s fastest car

Bugatti logo11 Jul 2011

IF YOU wanted to drive as quickly as possible between Berlin and Frankfurt and had a choice between a 400km/h Bugatti Veyron or a 165km/h VW Lupo, engineer Ric Tamba suggests you take the tiny Lupo.

Even on the unrestricted German autobahns, the humble Lupo 3L model – so named because it consumes only 3L/100km of diesel – is the faster option because it would not have to stop for fuel.

Of course, every revhead would choose the world’s fastest car, but Mr Tamba has a lot of intimate knowledge about the Veyron and, in particular, its dual-clutch transmission, which he helped design.

Indeed, Mr Tamba and his colleagues at NTC, the company he formed in Sydney in 1994 and sold in February, played a crucial role in developing VW’s DCT, contributing some patented parts which allowed the transmission to make it into production.

Speaking in Melbourne last week, Mr Tamba said Bugatti was effectively forced to hamper the Veyron’s ability to cross continents.

After some analysis, Mr Tamba’s team realised that, while about 95 per cent of the W16 engine’s 1001bhp (736kW) would be reaching the rear wheels, the other 5 per cent would be converted into heat in the transmission.

“That meant that the Veyron, when travelling at more than 300km/k, would soon boil its oil and, if it continued to run at that speed, there would be a ‘thermal event’,” he said.

After explaining that having a thermal event – engineering-speak for “fire” – at 350km/h could be a problem, the engineers told him not to be concerned. They said the problem would not arise because, at that sort of speed, the Veyron would be consuming 500 litres of fuel an hour.

“They said that’s why they decided to limit the fuel tank to 100 litres, which would give only 11 minutes of running at top speed, which is above 400km/h.

“In addition, they said, they decided to install a smaller fuel filler pipe so that refueling would take at least seven minutes. In that time, they said, the various radiators and pumps on board the Veyron would restore temperatures to more normal levels and it would be safe to drive the car again.”

Out of curiosity, the NTC boffins conducted a computer simulation of a race from Berlin to Frankfurt, a distance of 547km, between the two cars at the extremes of the VW Group’s product range, the Veyron and the Lupo.

“The Lupo, which does 3L/100km and has a top speed of 165km/h, will beat the Bugatti every time,” Mr Tamba said, “because the Lupo can do the whole trip on one tank.

“Imagine the frustration of the guy who owns the million-Euro Bugatti, who is sitting at the fuel station watching the little Lupo whiz by.”

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