First introduced in concept form in 2000, Bugatti's W16 engine entered production in the Veyron hypercar in 2005, changing the landscape of performance as we know it forever. Essentially two narrow-angle V8s stuck together, the Veyron's 8.0-liter W16 had four turbochargers and put out 987 horsepower and 922 pound-feet of torque, enough to propel it to 60 mph in less than 2.5 seconds and reach a record-breaking, insane top speed of 253 mph. Output was then boosted to 1,185 hp for the , which hit nearly 268 mph in 2010, breaking the top speed record yet again.
The Veyron's successor, the Chiron, was unveiled in 2016 with an overhauled version of the W16 making 1,479 hp and 1,180 lb.-ft. Performance was improved in every regard, though its top speed was restricted to "just" 261 mph. The Chiron spawned a bunch of different model variants, from the track-orientedto the coachbuilt and . Bugatti even created a one-off called that was the most expensive new car ever created. But by far most impressive was the longtail , which had a further-modified 1,578-hp W16 that helped it , demolishing the old record and becoming the first production car to crack the 300-mph 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 Porsche controlling the other 45%. We've known that the incredible W16 would soon be phased out, with Bugatti's follow-up to the Chiron using some sort of hybrid powertrain (and the car after that being a full EV). Before that happens, though, 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., with Croatian hypercar maker Rimac holding a 55% stake and
The Veyron was offered in a Grand Sport body style that featured a removable roof panel, and Bugatti says more than 40% of the cars it has built since 1909 have had open-top bodies, but the Chiron's entire 500-unit production run have been fixed-roof coupes. The W16 Mistral makes up for lost time as a two-seat roadster with a removable roof panel and a rakish silhouette, with its creation driven by "enormous demand" from Bugatti's customers. While no performance figures have been released yet, the Mistral uses the same version of the W16 that's found in the Chiron Super Sport 300+ with 1,578 hp. Bugatti hints that the Mistral will have a top speed of at least 260 mph, and that the company had the goal to become the maker of the fastest roadster in the world once again -- a crown that had been held by the Veyron Grand Sport before being taken by .
The Mistral's styling has a lot of cues from La Voiture Noire and the, and Bugatti's designers also took inspiration from a specific 1934 Bugatti Type 57 Roadster Grand Raid that's on display at the Louwman Museum in Holland. That car is defined by its cut-down 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 a tribute to the Grand Raid as well -- and black and yellow was Ettore Bugatti's personal color combo of choice.
Beyond just looking spectacular, the Mistral's styling has major performance benefits -- this isn't simply just a Chiron with a new body and a chopped-up structure. The carbon-fiber monocoque has been re-engineered to have a more rounded shape that's better suited to a roadster. Its curved windshield flows into the side windows to create a visor-like effect without distorting the driver's vision, and the Mistral's rakish profile is more dynamic than any other modern Bugatti. The Mistral's profile retains Bugatti's signature C-line that starts aft of the side windows, but the shape is more dynamic like on the Divo.
The oil cooler intakes have been separated from the engine air intakes, relocating the former to the roof scoops so the Mistral could have smaller intake openings on the body side. Those large carbon-fiber air intakes directly behind each seat harken back to the Veyron's chrome intakes, and they're able to fully support the weight of the car in the event of a rollover. But those intakes also increase the aural drama from the W16, providing more intake noise on throttle and louder blow-off valve whistle from the turbos. The W16 already has one of the most fascinating engine notes out there, and it will surely be helped by the huge center-exit exhaust tip.
The Mistral's horseshoe grille is even bigger and wider than La Voiture Noire's, enough to solely feed air to the engine radiator, leaving the massive intakes on each side to direct air to the intercoolers alone. The Mistral's four-slat headlights represent the car's four turbos and four-wheel drive, and the lights' 3D surface actually points air through to the wheel arches. (The only Mistral branding on the exterior is found just above the left headlight.) First seen on the Bolide, the X-shaped taillight arrangement seems like it will become a Bugatti hallmark, with the Mistral's quad thin bars placed at more of an angle and coming to almost meet in the center. There are cool U-shaped internals on the horizontal planes, and the center bar features a lit-up, three-dimensional Bugatti script. And in addition to looking rad, the space between the light bars have ducts that vent air through to the side oil coolers and radiators, thus creating a pressure drop between the car's side intakes and the rear outlets.
While the Mistral's interior is pretty much the same as the Chiron's in terms of overall design, it has a number of rad touches. The door panels, seats and bulkhead use a newly developed woven leather, which Bugatti says has been made to quality standards that envision the car being regularly used for more than a hundred years in the future. The gear shifter, which is milled from a solid block of aluminum, features subtle wood accents and an amber insert containing a dancing elephant sculpture -- the hood ornament used on the Bugatti Type 41 Royale.
Bugatti will only be building 99 units of the W16 Mistral, priced at around $5 million apiece to start, all of which are already sold out. Deliveries will commence in 2024 alongside, which also uses the W16. By the time production ends, Bugatti will have built at least 1,140 cars with the W16, not including prototypes and development cars. (We have a feeling there will be at least a couple of one-offs emerging with the W16 over the next half-decade or so, too.)
In terms of traditional combustion engines, the Volkswagen Group's W16 is unparalleled. We'll never see anything like it again, and that's a shame. Butto be spawned from the Bugatti-Rimac joint venture will be a hybrid, and it's said to use a powertrain that goes in the opposite direction that we expect. After that, the brand will go fully electric, using Rimac's highly advanced EV know-how that's already produced . While it may not have as many cylinders, I have faith that what comes next from Bugatti will be just as spectacular.