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Bugatti Tourbillon revealed as Chiron successor

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Bugatti Tourbillon front

Bugatti's new era begins with the arrival of the long-awaited Tourbillon hyper-GT, which replaces the Chiron with a dramatic new look, a radical hybridised V16 engine and a target to become the world's fastest road car. Named for the tiny mechanism that maintains accuracy in high-end watches, the Tourbillon arrives exactly 20 years after the launch of the Veyron, which was the most powerful road car of its time.

  1. Bugatti Tourbillon price to start at about Rs 34 crore
  2. 8.3-litre naturally aspirated V16 engine makes 1,000hp itself
  3. At 1,995kg, the Tourbillion weighs less than the Chiron 

Just 250 units will be produced, with a starting price of GBP 3.2 million (about Rs 34 crore), making this the most expensive new car in ‘series’ production. Bugatti CEO Mate Rimac refers to the Tourbillon as “art on wheels, a moving painting”, and says he wanted to continue the company's legacy of “bending physics”. While the Tourbillon will obviously be a highly limited and expensive proposition, he acknowledged the huge profile of the Bugatti brand and the influence it can have outside of its core customer base: “We will not change the life of everybody but everyone can be inspired.”

When Rimac acquired Bugatti in 2021, the French firm was in the early development phase for an “electric coupĂ©-SUV type of thing”, he said, but he “thought that was absolutely wrong for the brand. Luckily, I won that argument,” he grinned, at the unveiling of his new 16-cylinder hypercar, touting the ‘emotional’ appeal of a low-slung silhouette and a huge engine. “We wanted to have it very emotional. It has to feel special, because ‘if it is comparable, it is no longer Bugatti’,” he added, referencing the slogan of company founder Ettore Bugatti.

Bugatti Tourbillon: powertrain, performance

The Tourbillon takes an appropriately outlandish approach to electrification, dropping the behemoth W16 motor which powered the Chiron and Veyron for a 1,800hp plug-in hybrid arrangement centred around a screaming naturally-aspirated V16 in the middle.

Bugatti Tourbillon engine

That engine – the first of this format to power a road car since 1991's ultra-rare Cizeta-Moroder V16T – was engineered in collaboration with Cosworth following the decision not to hybridise the W16 or develop a pure-electric Bugatti model.

CEO Mate Rimac said recently he sees “no reason” for Bugatti to go electric in the immediate future, given its low volumes and the low mileages of its cars. “We have developed a new V16 engine, and we want to use that engine for a while, and maybe some other engines,” he said, “and I can't see a reason why it would be impossible."

The Tourbillon’s 8.3-litre engine is massive, measuring around a metre end-to-end, but weighs just 252kg, thanks to liberal use of lightweight metals and composites. It produces 1,000hp in its own right, which makes it one of the most potent combustion engines yet installed in a road-going car, but with a trio of Rimac-supplied electric motors – two on the front axle and one at the rear – supplying an extra 800hp, the Tourbillon becomes comfortably the most powerful combustion car on the market. Only the likes of the pure-electric Rimac Nevera, Lotus Evija and Pininfarina Battista pack more power, and then only around 1000hp.

The priority for the EV motors is to boost throttle response and provide torque fill during gear changes, but the 25kWh battery that powers them is claimed to give an electric range of more than 60km. Unusually for a PHEV, the battery is equipped with 800V charging hardware for a 0-80 percent charge time of just 12 minutes.

Bugatti Tourbillon action

Bosses suggest the Tourbillon will be faster outright than the Chiron, which could top 420kph in standard form and was the first car to crack the 480kph barrier in 2019, with the aid of special tyres and bespoke aero kit. A preliminary top speed of 445kph has been quoted for the Tourbillon, but Rimac said: “Let's say this is not the maximum...” Bugatti also aims to achieve a 0-100kph time of 2.0 seconds, and a sub-5.0sec 0-200kph time, which would make the Tourbillon one of the world's quickest-accelerating cars.

Bugatti Tourbillon: design, bodywork, aero details

The design, while heavily influenced by the uniquely colossal powertrain, remains true to the principles established by the Chiron and its Veyron successor. The ‘C-line’ – a distinctive feature of the W16 cars, inspired by Bugatti’s early road cars – is carried over, for example. So are the trademark horseshoe front grille, central dividing line along the bonnet and roof, and two-tone paint.

While the Tourbillon is immediately recognisable as a Chiron descendant, its silhouette is defined more obviously by the nature of its new powertrain and its targeted capabilities, most notably with a view to achieving a top speed of more than 400kph. “The ability to travel at more than 400kph requires every single surface, inlet and ridge to be finely honed to ensure it is not only aerodynamic, but also beneficial to the car’s thermodynamics,” says Bugatti, highlighting how the bodywork has been sculpted, not just to optimise airflow at high speeds, but to cool the colossal engine behind the cockpit.

Bugatti Tourbillon doors

This aero focus manifests in a number of distinctive new features, including a rear wing that remains ‘submerged’ even at top speed with no impact on its functionality, and a huge rear diffuser tunnel that extends right from the back of the cabin to the rear bumper, remaining largely invisible with the bodywork in place.

Less functional but more obvious are the Tourbillon's dramatic, remote-opening dihedral doors, which “not only allow for easy entry into the vehicle but provide a dramatic sense of arrival”. That said, designer Frank Heyl was keen to emphasise the relative subtlety of Bugatti's hypercars against their more dramatically styled rivals. “This car is elegant,” he told out sister publication Autocar UK.

“Elegance is about being remembered. It's not about shouting out ‘look at me!’ It's why we even chose to not paint it a shout-out, look-at-me colour. It's almost understated for what it is.”

Unusually, despite the move to a hybrid drivetrain, the Tourbillon actually weighs less than its pure-petrol predecessor, at 1,995kg, largely as a result of its completely bespoke carbon shell, which has been engineered with heavy influence from ‘top level’ motorsport. Use of 3D-printed components from US company Czinger for the subframes maximises stiffness while keeping weight down, while new 3D-printed aluminium suspension assemblies are said to weigh just over half those of the Chiron.

Shaving weight was crucial in light of the addition of a heavy traction battery and electrified front axle, but engineers say that it was just as important to preserve the Chiron's practicality credentials. To that end, the Tourbillon's entire e-axle assembly is said to fit in the same space that was available in its predecessor, “adding more complexity without requiring more space”. That allowed Bugatti to rework the front end to increase the size of the frunk, meaning owners can keep their bespoke Tourbillon luggage set in there.

Bugatti Tourbillon top

Heyl told Autocar UK that he worked closely with Bugatti's engineers to ensure that the Tourbillon did not become overtly defined by its lofty power figures and capabilities. “I wanted the car to not need a wing. The car has a wing, but obviously once the wing comes out, the back of the car is sort of fragmented, so we wanted to keep the wing in for as long an amount of time as possible. So even in top speed mode where we usually would lift the wing a little bit to establish aero balance, I didn't want the wing.”

The result is the Tourbillon's hidden active rear spoiler, which works at all speeds – with assistance from the Venturi-style diffuser. However, it does not lift on hydraulic struts like Bugatti's previous cars.

Bugatti Tourbillon: interior highlights

Bugatti says that the key to maintaining the Tourbillon's ‘timeless’ appeal is its analogue appeal, cultivated by its highly visible internal mechanisms and heavy reliance on physical controls; technology that doesn't date as easily as today's touchscreen-based systems. While sibling brand Rimac majors on digital functionality and ultra-advanced electronic functionality, the more ‘traditional’ Bugatti brand will continue to celebrate the physical, mechanical elements of its cars, which is why the intricate workings of the Tourbillon's instrument cluster – designed and built by actual Swiss watchmakers – are displayed.

Bugatti Tourbillon instrument cluster

Comprising more than 600 minuscule components, and using precious materials including titanium, sapphire and ruby, the gauge mechanisms weigh just 700g altogether and have been engineered to a tolerance of no more than 50 microns (0.05mm). The steering wheel is mounted to a fixed hub, with the spokes fixed to the back of the cluster, which means the gauges are always visible, regardless of the steering angle.

The inner workings of the controls on the centre console are all on display, too, and while there is a small touchscreen with Apple CarPlay functionality, it's hidden in the dashboard and only electronically deploys when “drivers request it”. Christophe Piochon, Bugatti president, said the interior design is an embodiment of the principles at the heart of the hypercar firm. “It is clear from looking at any of Ettore Bugatti’s creations that every component – even if it is never seen – is a work of art, and that was our intention with Tourbillon, too. It is stunning in every detail, recognisably Bugatti and also a masterpiece of packaging and engineering.”

Bugatti Tourbillon infotainmentcluster

Also see:

Bugatti Veyron review, test drive

Pininfarina Battista Autocar India top speed record video

Feature: Driving the Bujji movie car from Kalki 2898 AD



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