Super-Secret Volkswagen Test Track

Wednesday, 21st March 2007 by

The BBC’s Top Gear program recently took the Bugatti Veyron for a quick test drive — a very quick test drive1. James May was asked to test the car’s top speed, and there was apparently only one place in the world it could be done — Volkswagen’s super-secret test facility in Germany, Ehra-Lessien.

Why? Because Ehra-Lessien has an unbroken straight 9 kilometres in length, which you can see running along the top of our thumbnails. It’s so long, that if you stood on one side of the straight, you wouldn’t be able to see the other end due to the curvature of the Earth. Seriously, this straight is enormous. One or two thumbnails just couldn’t do it justice, so we’ll do it in two parts. Here’s the northern end

…and then we have to skip a couple of thumbnails before we get to the southern end!

There’s several cars visible on the straight, including one that seems to be going really very fast.


There’s also a small blob — which is either some kind of bug on the image, or a very strange new kind of concept-tractor.

Anyway, while May couldn’t get the Veyron up to its theoretical top speed, he did manage to equal the fastest speed of any production road car, reaching an almost incomprehensible 253 miles, or 407 kilometres per hour2 on this very straight. You can watch the clip on Google Video to really get a feel for how fast that is.

Thanks to Top Gear.

  1. For those of you may not have heard of Bugatti’s supercar, all you need to know is that it’s currently the fastest, most powerful, and most expensive street-legal production car in the world, and that it has a theoretical top speed of 257 miles, or 414 kilometres per hour. 

  2. That’s 113 metres per second