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Bugatti says its current quad-turbo W16 engine is last one

Tougher emissions and fuel economy standards mean that even Bugatti will have to downsize its powerplants in the future.

Chris Paukert/Roadshow

Let's face it, 16 cylinders is a lot of cylinders. I know it, you know it and Bugatti definitely knows it. Despite only making two(ish) models with the engine, Bugatti has become somewhat synonymous with the massive mill, but according to Bugatti CEO Stephan Winkelmann, those days are at an end, kind of.

Winkelmann, in an interview with CarAdvice.au, said the Chiron and the Divo are the last blasts for the W16 engine. That both makes perfect sense and doesn't make any sense at all, all at once. It makes sense in that the world is moving away from big-displacement high-powered combustion engines that get 11 miles per gallon combined. It doesn't make any sense at all because Bugatti isn't really a company that cares what others do. It pushes itself to go above and beyond the level of engineering that other companies are capable of. Everything is dialed to 11.

The Divo is the latest and greatest from Molsheim to feature the elephantine W16 engine.

Chris Paukert/Roadshow

The real culprit behind the impending death of the 1,500-horsepower W16 is emissions. Making that kind of power is thirsty work and the more fuel you burn, the more emissions there will be. Not to mention the kind of tuning safeguards that need to be in place to make that engine reliable at that power level.

"There will be no new 16-cylinder, this will be the last of its kind," Winkelmann said to CarAdvice.au. "It is an incredible engine and we know there is huge enthusiasm for it, everybody would like to have it forever, to continue to develop it -- we will do our utmost to keep it alive... but if you want to be on the edge with advanced technology it's important you choose the right moment to change."

The silver lining to this is that Winkelmann hasn't said that the engine is dead in its current architecture. This means that there could be continued revisions of the same design for a while yet. Realistically, with eight liters of displacement and four turbos, we doubt that Bugatti's boffins have gotten anywhere near the end of this engine's potential, so fingers crossed that someday we get a special Divo or Chiron with 2,500 horsepower.