It’s time to say goodbye to Bugatti’s mighty W16 engine. First introduced with the era-defining Veyron in 2005, the W16 went on to power every version of Veyron and its Chiron successor, including the 1,600-horsepower Super Sport and 300+ mph variants.
Now though, the W16 chapter of Bugatti’s story is about to close, with an open-topped roadster called the Mistral.
Announced today and to be shown at Monterey Car Week in California, the Mistral brings the W16 era to a close, ahead of the newly formed Bugatti Rimac switching to hybrid and eventually all-electric powertrains.
The W16 Mistral has the same 1,600 horsepower output as the Chiron Super Sport from its 16.4-litre, quad-turbocharged engine. Just 99 examples will be built, priced at €5m ($5m) before taxes, and they were all sold before the Mistral was even made public.
Bugatti set speed records with its previous open-topped cars, most recently reaching 254.04mph in the Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse, and the company says of the Mistral: “There can only be one goal in mind: to become the fastest roadster in the world once more.”
Mate Rimac, chief executive of Bugatti Rimac, said: “For the final roadgoing appearance of Bugatti’s legendary W16 engine, we knew we had to create a roadster. Well over 40% of all Bugatti vehicles ever created have been open-top in design, establishing a long lineage of performance icons that – to this day – are revered the world over.”
Mistral gets its name from a wind that blows from the Rhône River valley and along the Côte d’Azur in southern France – fitting, given one would expect a roadster with Chiron levels of performance would be somewhat blustery.
In turning the Chiron into an open-topped roadster, the company explains: “In its design and engineering it is completely bespoke; the existing monocoque is not simply cut off above the A-pillars to make way for the new open-top design but has been reengineered and reshaped to create a more rounded silhouette without compromising performance.”
Described as “a watershed moment in the Bugatti story,” the W16 Mistral debuts in colors inspired by the Bugatti Type 57 Roadster Grand Raid of 1935, with its black paint and truffle brown with yellow accents. This colorway is also a nod to the black and yellow chosen by company founder Ettore Bugatti for some of his personal cars, including a Type 41 Royale.
Achim Anscheidt, Bugatti Design Director, said: “We know the W16 Mistral will always have significance in the story of Bugatti, marking the last time that perhaps the greatest ever automotive powertrain is used in a roadgoing production car. We, as a design team, felt enormous pressure to deliver styling that immediately conveyed this landmark moment, drawing inspiration from some of the most beautiful roadsters in Bugatti history.”
Fundamental changes to the Chiron’s design include how the C graphic on the side has been given a new, three-dimensional character, while the W16’s oil cooler intakes on the sides have been separated from the engine air intakes. The latter now sit on the roof, behind the driver and their lucky passenger. By sitting on the roof, the intakes are reminiscent of those fitted to the Type 57 Roadster Grand Raid, and the open-topped Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport.
Moving to the front, Anscheidt continues: “We also totally reinvented its frontal appearance, in line with the vertical layout of our unique or few-off models like Divo and La Voiture Noire. It’s immediately imbued with a sense of exclusivity; the vertically stacked headlights are completely bespoke and the famous horseshoe grille is reimagined to be much more three- dimensional; both deeper and wider.”
The interior is much like that of the Chiron, but with a few new details. One such is the gear shifter, which is machined from a solid block of aluminum as before, but now features a wood and amber insert, with Rembrandt Bugatti’s famous ‘dancing elephant’ motif sculptured within.
Rimac added: “With the roof removed, and a pair of large air intakes directly behind your head feeding around 70,000 liters of air through the engine every minute at full bore, driving the W16 Mistral connects you to the intricate workings of this revolutionary powertrain like no other Bugatti to date.”