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Bugatti’s pugnacious prototype is powered by petrol

By Daniel Gardner, 26 Oct 2020 News

Bugatti 057

Petrol power not dead yet for Bugatti, with monstrous track beast under development in France

Bugatti is in the final stages of developing a vicious track-focused animal that is not pioneering the switch to electric power for the company, but safeguarding its mighty 8.0-litre quad-turbo for at least one more hurrah.

It’s understood that the iconic marque is in negotiations to sell to Czech electric monster manufacturer Rimac, heralding an electric era for Bugatti, but this latest revelation suggests petrol power has a place in the company’s future – in the short-term, at least.

Spied testing at the Circuit Paul Ricard by Youtube channel G-E Supercars, the mysterious model is the first full view of the new Bugatti, albeit in detail-obscuring wrap, ahead of its official reveal.

Bugatti prototype
Image credit G-E Supercars

Significantly though, the short clip reveals the car is powered by Bugatti’s perennial petrol powerhouse, which is now firmly in its twilight years.

The vehicle is captured only cruising, but the beat of 16 cylinders is difficult to mistake, while an air-intake scoop on the roof and exhausts would appear to confirm the presence of mid-mounted petrol power.

NEXT Bugatti’s W16 masterpiece

It’s not known if the newest Bugatti will be offered as a road-going model, extreme track-only plaything, full-blown competitive racer, or another outrageously exclusive one-off that’s already spoken for.

Certainly, its design would hint at a car that’s most at home where it has been initially spied. Its low nose, large tail spoiler, rear diffuser and vertical stabiliser all point to a hardcore track machine rather than cosseting luxury GT akin to the Chiron.

Bugatti teaser social media

However, unlike the steady stream of outlandishly exclusive models that were all effectively derivatives of the Chiron, this latest Bugatti appears to be something somewhat different.

While it’s likely the racer will be underpinned by the same chassis and major mechanicals, its bodywork, aerodynamics and styling are radical departures from the Centodieci, Divo and Voiture Noir one-off.

Gone is the top-to-bottom crescent side design signature, the stunning rear lights resemble a Star Wars X-Wing and its grille has been squashed from the tall snorting unit on its siblings into a more slender version.

The first look at the model in motion follows a more official teaser campaign in which one previous promotional image hinted at its radical X-shaped rear lighting arrangement, while another social media post has less obvious significance.

MORE All Bugatti’s modern heroes in one place

The number 0,67 was provided without context or unit and was accompanied by the somewhat unhelpful caption “What if Bugatti created…?”

One theory is that the figure refers to the new model’s power to weight ratio in horsepower to kilograms, although that would rank the new arrival significantly below the Chiron’s 0.75 achievements, if true.

Bugatti teaser social media

A zero-to-100km/h dash of 0.67 seconds seems implausible, while a drag coefficient of 0.67Cd is slightly worse than the average heavy goods truck.

Perhaps more likely is the numbers refer to a part of the storied company’s history in which it has previously entitled models with simple numbers, such as the Type 57.

Either way, reports say the French-German company will reveal all before October’s out.

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Original story published September 24

Rumoured Rimac buyout would put Bugatti in the hands of an electric monster maker

If recent reports are true, Rimac - a Croatian electric vehicle startup is about to buy Bugatti - one of the world’s oldest and most prestigious sportscar brands. How could this happen?

At face value, it seems unimaginable that a car company that wasn’t even in nappies when the Veyron was busy obliterating production car records could be in a position to acquire a marque with such a wealth of heritage and a tack room lined with rosettes.

And yet, both the flogging of Bugatti and its acquisition by an EV authority makes perfect sense if a report by Carmagazine.co.uk turns into a reality.

Rimac C Two
Rimac C Two

Bugatti’s current owner Volkswagen is fast-tracking its electrification and carbon-reduction strategy in the wake of dieselgate scandal, but with an 8.0-litre, quad-turbo, W16 engine at its core, the hypercar manufacturer is an awkward, ill-fit for VW’s vision.

Not only is getting rid of Bugatti easier for Volkswagen than cleaning up its act, but handing over the keys to Rimac would put the French-ish manufacturer in the hands of a company that has access to 1500kW zero-emissions drivetrains – Drinking problem cured, future secured.

If new owners Rimac slot the current electric technology from its C Two into future Bugatti models, the electric successor would be 250kW more powerful than even the most potent petrol-powered Chiron.

Bugatti Chiron
Bugatti Chiron Supersport

Four motors send 1427kW and 2300Nm to all four wheels for a zero-100km/h potential in less than 2.0 seconds. This could be the drivetrain that powers the world’s cleanest Bugatti to a new production car speed record.

And while the loss of a mighty marque like Bugatti is always going to sting a little, the rumoured ownership exchange would sit more comfortably with all the stakeholders than you might imagine. Porsche, which holds a 53 percent controlling share of Volkswagen, already owns a 15.5 percent stake in Rimac. In exchange for Bugatti, Rimac is offering to boost Porsche’s share to just under half (49 percent).

In simplistic terms, therefore, the current owner off-loads Bugatti for no cash but, through another of its brands, gains even more of the company that now owns it.

Rimac C One
Rimac C One

MORE All of Bugatti’s modern-day cars head-to-head

And Rimac? If the rumoured deal goes ahead, in addition to Bugatti’s extraordinary Molsheim manufacturing facility, the 11-year old company (an infant in car industry terms) will buy into one of the richest and most storied seams of automotive history on the planet. Everyone’s a winner.

Bugatti Veyron Vitesse
Bugatti Veyron Vitesse