The Bugatti W16 quad-turbocharged engine is an engineering masterpiece and a symbol of sheer excess, but its end is drawing ever closer. When the Volkswagen Group handed over control of Bugatti to the Croatian electric vehicle manufacturer Rimac, it was a clear recognition that the future of the brand will be fully electric. Now, we have just met the latest representative of this saga of exclusive models powered by the famous engine: the Bugatti Mistral.
Despite bearing a different name, the Mistral also completes the life cycle of the Bugatti Chiron, as it is essentially a convertible version of that hypercar, which has not been offered until now. Only 99 units will be produced at a price of 5 million euros each , a very high amount that has not been any kind of impediment so that all copies are already sold out. By the way, the first deliveries are scheduled for 2024.
Although closely related to the Chiron, the Mistral is much more than just a facelift. The design team gave it a radical new front end, evoking the predatory design language pioneered by two previous ultra-limited editions: the Bugatti Divo and Bugatti La Voiture Noire. The Mistral is not a natural beauty, with lights mounted in the wheel arches and the characteristic horseshoe grille at the end of a long nose. Still, it has more of a road presence than a parade float.
The Mistral's cropped windshield curves like a visor and fits into the shallow side panels. A roof is not shown in any of the official images, but Bugatti told the Car and Driver that the car will be offered with a temporary clip-on panel instead of a full hood. The last Bugatti convertible, the Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse, was effectively a Targa with a pop-up roof section. The Mistral can be considered a convertible permanently. Behind the cab are twin raised air intakes that channel air into the engine compartment while adding a battering ram effect. They are connected by a high-level stringer. At the rear, X-shaped taillight elements cross almost the full width of the car and incorporate illuminated red Bugatti branding.
True to W16
The engine is the existing 8.0-liter W16, which has four turbochargers and produces 1,600 horsepower. That's the same as the Bugatti Chiron Super Sport 300+ that set an outright production car speed record in 2019. Power comes to the road via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and all-wheel drive. Bugatti has not released detailed claims about the Mistral's performance but said the car will have a top speed of at least 420 km/h. We were also told that the company wants the Mistral "to become the fastest roadster in the world." However, that would require officially breaking the 408 km/h record set by the Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse in 2013.
The interior design of the Mistral appears to be the least changed from the Chiron , as it shares the same dashboard, instrument cluster, steering wheel and center console. This should at least make it a comfortable place to spend time, albeit a lot windier compared to its coupe counterpart. The car shown at Pebble Beach sported a striking yellow and black color scheme inspired by the similarly roofless 1934 Type 57 Grand Raid. The latter had the bodywork of the coachbuilder Gangloff and is now part of the collection of the Louwman Museum in the Netherlands.
The last of the W16 lineage
Bugatti's W16 was created by Ferdinand Piëch, one of the most famous and ambitious automotive engineers of all time. Piëch's goal was to create what he believed would be the most powerful engine ever installed in a homologated road car, something that was achieved by both the Veyron and Chiron. With the end of the combustion era fast approaching, the 16-cylinder's position at the top looks unassailable. Once production of the Mistral is complete, Bugatti will become an electric vehicle brand, although it will continue to make ultra-luxury models with ultra-high performance.