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Bugatti’s New V-16 in a cutting-edge front-engined hypercar

Introduction: The Rumor Mill Churns Again

Bugatti, the brand synonymous with unparalleled luxury and breathtaking performance, is making waves once again. Whispers in the automotive world suggest that Bugatti might be considering something truly audacious: a front-engined hypercar powered by a massive V-16 engine. This news has car enthusiasts buzzing with excitement and curiosity. Could this be the dawn of a new era for Bugatti, one that harks back to its illustrious past while propelling it into the future with unprecedented power and style?

The Ghost of Galibier: A Look Back

To understand the potential of this front-engined V-16 marvel, we must revisit the 2009 Bugatti Galibier. The Galibier was a grand tourer that promised to blend ultra-luxury with mind-blowing performance. Equipped with a twin-supercharged, 8.0-liter W-16 engine, the Galibier was designed to be the ultimate grand tourer. However, the project was shelved, reportedly due to concerns within the Volkswagen Group about its design, which they deemed too bulbous for production.

Instead of bringing the Galibier to life, Bugatti prioritized the development of the Veyron’s successor, leading to the birth of the Chiron in 2016. The Chiron, with its mid-mounted W-16 engine and breathtaking performance, cemented Bugatti’s reputation as the maker of the world’s most extraordinary hypercars. But the spirit of the Galibier never quite faded away, and now, in 2024, it seems Bugatti is once again considering a front-engined masterpiece.

The V-16 Engine: A Beast in the Making

The heart of this potential new Bugatti is a naturally aspirated, 8.3-liter V-16 engine. Developed in collaboration with Cosworth, this powerplant was initially slated for the Bugatti Tourbillon. Speaking with Autocar magazine, Bugatti’s Director of Design, Frank Heyl, revealed that the V-16 engine could be relocated to the front of a car. “We can shuffle bits around,” Heyl said, hinting at the flexibility and potential of this engine layout.

Two high-ranking officials at Bugatti have also suggested that it’s technically feasible to mount the V-16 in front of the driver. While no concrete plans have been confirmed, these statements have left room for plenty of speculation and excitement among car enthusiasts.

A Grand Tourer in the Making?

If Bugatti does decide to go forward with a front-engined V-16 hypercar, it’s likely to be a grand tourer rather than a no-compromise performance machine like the Chiron. The Chiron’s replacement will continue to push the boundaries of speed and agility, while the new model could focus on blending luxury, comfort, and performance in a way that only Bugatti can.

Frank Heyl further hinted at this possibility, drawing comparisons to the iconic Bugatti Type 57 SC Atlantic. “Certainly. I mean, look at the Type 57 SC Atlantic: it’s front-engined. So maybe later, but for now we are super-happy that we went this way,” Heyl said. This reference to Bugatti’s storied past adds weight to the possibility of a front-engined V-16 hypercar in the future.

The Road Ahead: Challenges and Opportunities

Even if a front-engined Bugatti is on the agenda, it won’t happen overnight. Bugatti’s current focus is on completing the final chapters of the W-16 era with the Mistral roadster and the track-only Bolide. The production of the “regular” Chiron has recently ended, and deliveries of the Tourbillon, the car originally intended to house the V-16 engine, won’t start until 2026.

However, the development of the V-16 engine opens up exciting opportunities for Bugatti. The substantial investment in creating this new powerplant means that Bugatti will likely want to spread out the costs by launching additional models. The company, now under the majority control of the Rimac Group, could leverage this engine in a variety of innovative ways.

The Galibier and Its Predecessors: A Legacy of Front-Engined Brilliance

While the Galibier is the most well-known modern attempt at a front-engined Bugatti, it wasn’t the first. The 1993 EB 112 featured a V-12 engine borrowed from the EB 110 supercar. In 1998, the EB 118 debuted with a naturally aspirated W-18 engine and a sleek coupe body style. A year later, the EB 218 continued this tradition as a sedan, also powered by the monstrous eighteen-cylinder engine.

More recently, the Atlantic and the W16 Coupe “Rembrandt” were in the pipeline during the 2010s but fell victim to the fallout from the Dieselgate scandal. These models, though never realized, show that Bugatti has long been exploring the potential of front-engined configurations.

The Type 57 SC Atlantic: Inspiration from the Past

When considering a front-engined hypercar, Bugatti’s designers often look to the Type 57 SC Atlantic for inspiration. This iconic car, with its distinctive styling and front-mounted engine, represents a pinnacle of automotive design and performance from the pre-war era. The Atlantic’s combination of elegance and power has influenced many modern Bugatti designs, and it could serve as a blueprint for the future.

The Type 57 SC Atlantic was a car that blended form and function in a way that captivated enthusiasts and collectors alike. Its aerodynamic design, coupled with a powerful engine, made it a formidable performer on the road. A modern reinterpretation of this concept, with a V-16 engine at the front, could capture the same magic and bring it into the 21st century.

A New Era for Bugatti: The Rimac Influence

With the Rimac Group holding a controlling stake in Bugatti, the marque is poised for a new era of innovation and performance. Rimac, known for its cutting-edge electric hypercars, brings a wealth of technological expertise to the table. This partnership could lead to exciting hybrid or fully electric powertrains that complement Bugatti’s traditional focus on internal combustion engines.

The V-16 engine, with its hybrid capabilities, represents a bridge between Bugatti’s storied past and its forward-thinking future. This powertrain could be the centerpiece of a new range of vehicles that combine unparalleled performance with the latest advancements in automotive technology.

Conclusion: A Future Full of Possibilities

The idea of a front-engined Bugatti hypercar with a V-16 engine is tantalizing for car enthusiasts. It represents a bold step forward for the brand, one that honors its heritage while embracing the future. While concrete plans are still under wraps, the hints and statements from Bugatti’s leadership suggest that this possibility is more than just a pipe dream.

As Bugatti continues to push the boundaries of what’s possible in the automotive world, the prospect of a front-engined V-16 hypercar serves as a reminder of the brand’s relentless pursuit of excellence. Whether this vision becomes a reality in the near future or remains a tantalizing possibility, one thing is clear: Bugatti’s commitment to innovation and performance remains as strong as ever.