Bugatti's W-16 engine will be last of its kind as hybrid future approaches

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Bugatti Divo

Bugatti Divo

Bugatti does things on a grand scale. Since 2005, the French automaker has shoehorned a massive 8.0-liter, quad-turbocharged W-16 engine into the rear end of its supercars. The latest and greatest machine to use this engine is the Divo hypercar, which is based on the Chiron. That duo might be the last cars to make use of this massive, mighty powerplant.

The realities of stricter emissions standards around the world will cause Bugatti to look in a new direction eventually, and Volkswagen’s ultra luxury brand won’t build a new version of the W-16. That’s according to Monday report from CarAdvice, which spoke to Bugatti CEO Stephan Winkelmann.

“There will be no new 16-cylinder, this will be the last of its kind. It is an incredible engine and we know there is huge enthusiasm for it, everybody would like to have it forever, to continue to develop it. We will do our utmost to keep it alive. But if you want to be on the edge with advanced technology it’s important you choose the right moment to change,” Winkelmann said.

Bugatti Chiron production in Molsheim, France

Bugatti Chiron production in Molsheim, France

Displacement and brute force through internal combustion will one day yield to electrification and battery backs. As electric motor and battery technology continues to improve, supercars and hypercars will maintain or improve upon current levels of performance while losing their signature sounds. Bugatti is no stranger to tremendous power, but it will soon have to find that power in new ways. Those solutions will have to work for the brand.

“If the weight of the batteries is going down dramatically—as it is—and you can reduce the emissions to a level which is acceptable, then hybridization is a good thing,” Winkelmann said, “but it has to be a solution that is credible for the people who are buying Bugattis today.”

The VW-built W-16 engine has been around since the first Veyron arrived to redefine our notions of horsepower and speed. Originally, the W-16 produced around 1,000 horsepower. That figure quickly rose to 1,200 as the Veyron Super Sport came to be. Today, the Chiron delivers 1,480 horsepower, as does the the new Divo, but with lower weight to improve its overall performance.

While it will be sad to see the retirement of such a technological tour du force, we can’t help but wonder what Bugatti will roll out in the future. Rimac is pushing electrified excellence to the same customer set that Bugatti enjoys. Its cars, however, are fully electric. A future Bugatti figures to a hybrid along the lines of Ferrari LaFerrari, Porsche 918 Spyder, and McLaren P1, though with more power and possibly greater electrification.

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