Bugatti’s legendary 8.0-L quad-turbo W16 engine might get a bit more powerful before finally being retired.
Thirteen years ago, Bugatti introduced the world to the most powerful, most extreme engine that any hypercar had ever seen: an 8.0-L quad-turbo W16 engine. That engine helped propel the Bugatti Veyron to speeds that had never before been seen on road-legal cars, setting a land-speed record of 267 mph in 2010 for the fastest production car.
Unfortunately, the days of such ludicrous engines are quickly coming to an end thanks to stricter emissions and fuel efficiency regulations. Although Bugatti’s engine is extremely powerful, having evolved from 987 hp on the Veyron to 1,479 on the Chiron Sport, it’s mileage leaves quite a bit to be desired. When it was released, the Veyron got about 8 miles to the gallon in the city and 14 on the highway. Flat out, it would empty its tank in just 12 minutes.
Nowadays it's fine if you drain your battery in 12 minutes, but turning 25+ gallons of gasoline into greenhouse causing vapors in less time than it takes to cook a burger is just not allowed.
"There will be no new 16-cylinder, this will be the last of its kind,” Winkelmann admitted. “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."
That moment is coming, and soon. Battery technology continues to improve, allowing the first generation of electric hypercars to arrive with performance that can put most gas hypercars to shame. The only thing missing is longevity, as most batteries will either run dry or flat-out melt if the driver demands extreme performance for a day on the track.
However, the day when a battery can deliver the same kind of performance as an internal combustion engine is closer than most people think.
In the meantime, Winkelmann did drop a pretty big hint that before the W16 engine goes, we’ll get a swan song with an even higher number than 1,479 hp.
"We are far out at Bugatti, far from being compared, but I think [horsepower] still matters to many people... I think that the race for more power is not over, unfortunately in my opinion, because we could do different things."
It’s a bit obtuse, but this could be the first sign that there’s an even more powerful W16 waiting to be unveiled in the deepest, darkest corners of Bugatti. Although the fact that they didn’t put it on their latest Divo hypercar seems to indicate there is still some development left to be done.
Or we might never see a stronger W16 engine, and instead get something that’s been hybridized as the first step towards complete electrification. We’ll just have to wait and see.