Remember the 2009 Galibier? The ultra-luxury grand tourer was axed because the VW Group reportedly didn’t like the design. Rumor has it that the five-door liftback would’ve been too bulbous in production guise. Instead, the Veyron’s replacement was prioritized, thus the Chiron was born in 2016. Fast forward to 2024, Bugatti isn’t ruling out launching a car with a sixteen-cylinder engine mounted in front of the driver.

While the Galibier had a twin-supercharged, 8.0-liter W-16, its spiritual successor would use the naturally aspirated, 8.3-liter V-16 from the Tourbillon. Speaking with Autocar magazine, the company’s Director of Design Frank Heyl was asked whether the engine co-developed with Cosworth could be relocated to the front: “We can shuffle bits around.”

That’s obviously not a confirmation, but these meticulously chosen words leave room for interpretation. In addition, Bugatti’s Director of Design Frank Heyl also hinted that a front-engined model might happen one day. When inquired whether it would be possible to put the V-16 at the front, Achim Anscheidt’s successor said: “Certainly. I mean, look at the Type 57 SC Atlantic: it’s front-engined. So maybe later, but for now we are super-happy that we went this way.”

Even if it’s on the agenda, a front-engined Bugatti is unlikely to happen anytime soon. Deliveries of the Tourbillon aren’t going to start until 2026. Meanwhile, the ultra-luxury marque based in Molsheim is busy making the Mistral roadster and track-only Bolide as the final chapters in the W-16 book. Production of the “regular” Chiron ended recently.

It would make sense to put that V-16 in other cars since it’s an all-new engine. Bugatti surely wants to spread out the costs of developing the hybrid powertrain by launching additional models. The Chiron before it already had a more diverse portfolio than the Veyron. The company could kick things up a notch now that there’s new management, with the Rimac Group holding a controlling stake.

It’s too soon to say whether a front-engined model would have rear doors like the Galibier. Either way, logic tells us that the focus would likely be on a grand tourer, leaving the Chiron’s replacement to cover the no-compromise performance side.

<p>1993 Bugatti EB 112</p>
<p>1998 Bugatti EB 118</p>
<p>1998 Bugatti EB 218</p>

While the Galibier is the best-known Bugatti to have a front engine in the modern era, there were a few before it. The 1993 EB 112 had a V-12 borrowed from the mighty EB 110 supercar. Then the EB 118 came along in 1998 with a naturally aspirated W-18 (yes, a W-18) engine and a coupe body style. A year later, the 1999 EB 218 was introduced as a sedan while retaining the monstrous eighteen-cylinder engine. In the 2010s, the Atlantic and the W16 Coupe “Rembrandt” were left on the cutting room floor due to the Dieselgate.

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Last Update: June 25, 2024