The Bugatti Tourbillon is making the headlines for all the right reasons by combining jaw-dropping technical specifications with gorgeous styling. It’s also supremely quick, impossibly expensive, and a rare breed by having a limited production run. But you knew that already, right? Here’s something interesting that you might not have noticed–an interior quirk shared with an old Citroën model.

The new hypercar from Molsheim has a fixed steering wheel hub, much like another French car launched some 20 years ago. The 2004 C4 compact hatchback followed a similar philosophy since only the rim rotated while the center remained fixed in place. The idea was to have all the buttons always in the same position, even if the driver was swerving left or right. Not just buttons, but also warning lights related to the headlights, mounted on the upper section of the steering wheel’s hub.

Citroën incorporated this unusual layout in other cars, including the C4 Picasso and the larger C5. However, the feature was ultimately abandoned. Two decades later, another French automaker from a superior echelon is revisiting the idea by taking it to a whole new level. Co-developed by Bugatti with Swiss watchmakers, the titanium instrument cluster is affixed to the steering wheel’s hub.

Doing so means you always have an unobstructed view of the gorgeous dials. The 10,000-rpm tachometer and 550-km/h (342-mph) speedometer are always visible through the chunky rim of the steering wheel. The instrument cluster is mostly analog, save for a small screen that shows speed and which gear the eight-speed dual-clutch transmission is in.

<p>1972 Maserati Boomerang</p>

Although the fixed steering wheel hub is mostly associated with Citroën and is being brought back into the limelight by Bugatti, the idea wasn’t born in France. The 1972 Maserati Boomerang penned by Italdesign had a similar philosophy. Come to think of it, that concept car also had a French connection since the dials and switches came from a Citroën SM. That’s because the company with the double chevron logo owned Maserati between 1968 and 1975.

Then there’s Koenigsegg and its recently recalled Jesko. The steering wheel’s hub is not fixed in place but the digital instrument cluster is mounted to it. How does that work? The screen is gyroscopic, so the gauge rotates with the wheel, ensuring that the readout always stays horizontal. Pretty neat, isn’t it?

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Last Update: June 21, 2024

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