Bugatti’s new hypercar loses its turbos for a screaming V16 hybrid

Enlarge / The Tourbillon is recognizable as a modern Bugatti, but it is very different under the skin.

Bradley Iger

Since the launch of the hypercar-defining Veyron in 2005, modern Bugattis have served as benchmarks for straight-line performance and no-expense-spared automotive engineering. At a time when a 300-horsepower Mustang GT was something to boast about, the W16-powered four-turbo Veyron offered more than a thousand metric (987 hp/736 kW).

Perhaps most importantly, and unlike most other performance cars globally, the Veyron was not presented as a shoddy project that had been pushed to its limits. Instead, it was a fully realized ultra-luxurious performance machine, packed with the kind of grand tourer details one would expect to find in a Bentley rather than a top speed record holder.

Still, it was the numbers that instantly captivated enthusiasts and casual viewers alike, and Bugatti would reset the bar with the introduction of the 1,479 hp (1,102 kW) Chiron in 2016.

A Bugatti must be more than just fast

But now, less than a decade later, the automotive performance landscape looks markedly different. Thanks to Rimac, which incidentally now owns a majority stake in Bugatti, those with the means can walk out of a showroom driving a street-legal vehicle that’s capable of out-accelerating a Formula One car, while that other manufacturers offer fairly discreet luxury sedans. with more than 1,200 HP (895 kW).

Today, buyers can choose from dozens of different vehicles that are capable of reaching 60 mph from a standstill in less than three seconds. As a result, there is a growing sense that we live in a post-horsepower world, and Bugatti seems well aware of this paradigm shift.

“I think we’ve reached a point where cars are so incredibly fast that it’s no longer the differentiator,” Bugatti design director Frank Heyl said as he showed us a Tourbillon prototype in a production studio in Long Beach, California, a few months ago. . “It’s about the emotions it generates. Your heart has to tell your brain that it’s a good decision to buy this car.”

The only screen you'll find here is hidden unless requested by the driver.
Enlarge / The only screen you’ll find here is hidden unless requested by the driver.

Bradley Iger

It’s a sentiment that says a lot about Bugatti’s approach to the development of the Tourbillon. This time, the focus seems to be more on engaging the senses rather than delivering headline-grabbing statistics. Still, figures like 0 to 186 mph (300 km/h) in less than 10 seconds and 277 mph (445 km/h) top speed make it very clear that the Tourbillon will perform sensationally.

That performance, which beats the Chiron by more than three seconds and 16 mph (26 km/h) in those metrics, respectively, is due in part to the Tourbillon’s more aerodynamic shape. During our briefing, Heyl said the designers turned to birds of prey for inspiration, an influence that is particularly evident at the front of the car, where the Tourbillon’s reduced frontal area significantly reduces aerodynamic drag. While the overall look doesn’t stray too far from the Chiron, the greater emphasis on aerodynamics, as evidenced by elements like the massive rear diffuser and muscular front clip, also gives the Tourbillon a more muscular and purposeful aesthetic.

Leave a Comment