Bugatti unleashes new 420km/h W16 Mistral roadster


The new Bugatti W16 Mistral is not a Chiron derivative. Rather, it’s a stand-alone, open-top roadster the company says has a top speed above 420km/h. Furthermore, the French brand says this extreme roadster is a swansong for the W16 engine, which was first introduced in the Veyron. It’s a 16-cylinder, quad turbo masterpiece created by splicing two 4l V8s side by side to arrive at an 8.0l capacity in a “W” engine configuration.

It’s still unbeaten for sheer numerical awe, and in the Mistral the motor dishes out 1,177kW for speeds more than 420km/h. “Top speed” mode sees much of the Bugatti aero vents retract and the vehicle hunkers down to decrease drag. Emilio Scervo, Bugatti Rimac chief technology officer, says: “The W16 Mistral will run in ‘top speed’ mode with the minimum amount of rake on [the] rear wing to reduce drag, but the rear diffuser has been optimised because downforce created by a diffuser comes with very little penalty for drag.”

The diffuser edge has been elevated to increase its rake angle and expansion ratio, helping to maintain both W16 Mistral’s sure-footed handling and high-top speed. “Managing both thermodynamics and aerodynamics effectively is key to achieving more than 420km/h in an open top car. We have to think very carefully about how we shape the W16 Mistral to guide air through the car and around the car to delicately balance both cooling and aerodynamics.” “But, of course, we must do all this with a sense of elegance befitting a Bugatti roadster,” says Scervo. Achim Anscheidt, Bugatti Rimac design director, says: “The frontal appearance of the car is dominated by these large intakes, and while recognisably Bugatti, we take a number of cues from the few-off models: Divo, Centodieci and La Voiture Noire.

“We hark back to the Veyron 16.4 Vitesse and the Type 57 Roadster Grand Raid by incorporating engine air intakes behind the occupant headrests. This solution is both elegant, functional and safe,” adds Anscheidt. “The side intakes feed air purely to the oil coolers, while the headrest engine intakes create a sense of aural drama while also working to protect occupants in the event of a rollover.”

The interior, which is protected by a clip-on cover, has an intricate woven leather used on newly designed door panels, and, in a nod to the W16 Mistral’s forebears such as the Type 41 Royale, the gear shifter — machined from a solid block of aluminium — features a touch of wood and an amber insert with Rembrandt Bugatti’s famous “dancing elephant sculpture locked within”. Only 99 examples of the W16 Mistral will be built, priced at €5m (R88.5m), with deliveries due to begin in 2024. The entire production run of W16 Mistral is already sold out. “The W16 Mistral is a special moment in the history of Bugatti: the kind of car that will be seen on the lawns of top Concours d’Elegance events for decades or even centuries,” says Anscheidt.