First introduced in concept form in 2000, Bugatti’s W16 engine entered production in the Veyron hypercar in 2005, forever changing the landscape of performance as we know it. The Veyron’s 8.0-liter W16, essentially two narrow-angle V8s stuck together, had four turbochargers and delivered 987 horsepower and 922 Nm of torque, enough to propel it to 60 mph in under 2.5 seconds and achieve a record, insane top speed of 253 mph. Power was then increased to 1,185 hp for thewhich reached nearly 268 mph in 2010, breaking the top speed record again.
The successor to the Veyron, the Chiron, was unveiled in 2016 with an overhauled version of the W16 rated at 1,479 horsepower and 1,180 lb.-ft. Performance was improved in every way, although top speed was limited to “just” 261 mph. The Chiron has spawned a number of different model variants, from the track-focusedto coachbuilding and . Bugatti even created a one-off called that was the most expensive new car ever made. But by far the most impressive was the long tail who had a further modified 1,578 horsepower W16 that helped him breaking the old record and becoming the first production car to break the 300 km/h barrier.
But the sun is setting on the internal combustion engine, with most brands already well into their full electrification plans, and Bugatti is no different. The company is now part of, with Croatian hypercar maker Rimac holding a 55% stake and Porsche holding the other 45%. We knew the incredible W16 would soon be phased out, with Bugatti’s successor to the Chiron using some sort of hybrid powertrain (and the car after that would be a full EV). But before that happens, Bugatti has unveiled one last road car to use the W16. Named after a powerful wind that blows through the Côte d’Azur in southern France, the new W16 Mistral is the ultimate application of the coolest engine the world has ever seen.
The Veyron was offered in a Grand Sport body style with a removable roof panel, and Bugatti says more than 40% of the cars it’s built since 1909 have had open bodies, but the entire production of 500 Chirons are coupes. with fixed roof. The W16 Mistral makes up for lost time as a two-seat roadster with a removable roof panel and a striking silhouette, with its creation driven by “huge demand” from Bugatti’s customers. While no performance figures have yet been released, the Mistral uses the same version of the W16 found in the Chiron Super Sport 300+ with 1,578 horsepower. Bugatti hints that the Mistral will have a top speed of at least 260 mph and that the company’s goal is to once again become the maker of the fastest roadster in the world – a crown previously held by the Veyron Grand Sport by.
The styling of the Mistral has many cues from La Voiture Noire and the, and Bugatti’s designers were also inspired by a specific 1934 Bugatti Type 57 Roadster Grand Raid on display at the Louwman Museum in the Netherlands. That car is characterized by its cut-out windshield and fairings behind each seat, both elements brought to the Mistral. The Mistral’s warm black paint and truffle brown and bright yellow interior are also a tribute to the Grand Raid – and black and yellow was Ettore Bugatti’s personal color combination.
The Mistral’s styling not only looks spectacular, but also has major performance benefits – this isn’t just another Chiron with a new body and a twisted-up structure. The carbon fiber monocoque has been redesigned to have a more rounded shape better suited to a roadster. The curved windshield flows into the side windows to create a visor-like effect without interfering with the driver’s view, and the Mistral’s jagged profile is more dynamic than any modern Bugatti. The profile of the Mistral retains Bugatti’s signature C-line starting behind the side windows, but the shape is more dynamic like on the Divo.
The oil cooler intakes are separate from the engine’s air intakes, with the former being moved to the roof vents so that the Mistral could have smaller intakes on the body side. Those large carbon fiber air intakes directly behind each seat reference the Veyron’s chrome air intakes and they are able to fully support the weight of the car in the event of a rollover. But those intakes also add to the W16’s aural drama, making for more intake noise at the throttle and a louder whistle from the turbos. The W16 already has one of the most captivating engine sounds out there, and it’s sure to be helped by the huge center tailpipe tailpipe.
The Mistral’s horseshoe-shaped grille is even taller and wider than La Voiture Noire’s, enough to supply air only to the engine radiator, while the huge intakes on each side direct air only to the intercoolers. The Mistral’s four-blade headlamps represent the car’s four turbos and four-wheel drive, and the 3D surface of the lights actually points air through to the wheel arches. (The only Mistral branding on the outside is just above the left headlight.) First seen on the Bolide, the X-shaped taillight arrangement seems to be becoming a Bugatti signature, with the Mistral’s four thin bars protruding more below. are placed at a corner and almost meet in the center. There are cool U-shaped internals on the horizontal planes, and the center bar features an illuminated, three-dimensional Bugatti script. And the space between the light bars not only looks rad, but also has ducts that divert air to the oil coolers and radiators on the side, creating a pressure drop between the car’s side intakes and the rear exhaust.
Although the interior of the Mistral is very similar in design to that of the Chiron, it has some striking details. The door panels, seats and bulkhead are made from newly developed woven leather, which Bugatti says is made to quality standards aimed at ensuring the car’s regular use for more than a hundred years going forward. Machined from a solid block of aluminum, the gear lever has subtle wood accents and an amber insert with a dancing elephant sculpture – the hood ornament used on the Bugatti Type 41 Royale.
Bugatti will build just 99 units of the W16 Mistral, starting at around $5 million each, all of which are already sold out. Deliveries will start in 2024 together with, which also uses the W16. By the time production ends, Bugatti will have built at least 1,140 cars using the W16, not counting prototypes and development cars. (We have a feeling there will also be at least a few one-offs with the W16 in the next half-decade.)
In terms of traditional combustion engines, the Volkswagen Group’s W16 is second to none. We’ll never see anything like that again, and that’s a shame. Butcoming out of the Bugatti-Rimac joint venture will be a hybrid, and it’s said to use a powertrain that goes in the opposite direction we expect. After that, the brand will go all-electric, leveraging Rimac’s highly advanced EV know-how already produced . While it may not have that many cylinders, I’m confident the next Bugatti will be just as spectacular.
Bugatti W16 Mistral is more than just a Chiron Roadster
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