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Bugatti's new car is a US$4 million, 1,800 horsepower hybrid

Bugatti unveils an all-new plug-in hybrid car, the Bugatti Tourbillon. (Courtesy Bugatti Rimac via CNN Newsource) Bugatti unveils an all-new plug-in hybrid car, the Bugatti Tourbillon. (Courtesy Bugatti Rimac via CNN Newsource)
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Bugatti has unveiled its new model, the Bugatti Tourbillon, a massively powerful hybrid with an equally impressive price tag. The car will replace the US$3.3 million, 1,500 horsepower Bugatti Chiron.

You might have expected Bugatti’s new model to be all-electric. Not only is the industry headed in that direction, but in 2021 Bugatti was spun off from Volkswagen Group and merged with Rimac, the Croatian company that makes the all-electric Rimac Nevera supercar.

But Mate Rimac, the chief executive of the new company, now called Bugatti Rimac, said he never had any intention of making an all-electric Bugatti. As gasoline-powered cars gradually fade from the world’s roads, Bugatti Rimac’s engineers and designers wanted to create something that retained the spirit of mechanically powered Bugatti cars, just better: An insanely powerful plug-in hybrid.

Like the Bugatti Chiron and Veyron models before it, the new Bugatti Tourbillon will have a huge, 16-cylinder gas engine. The engine, which was designed in cooperation with the British race car engineering firm Cosworth, will be assisted by three powerful electric motors. One motor in the back of the car and two more in the front will be capable of producing at least 800 horsepower on their own. In total, the Bugatti Tourbillon will be able to put out at least 1,800 horsepower, according to Bugatti Rimac.

The electric motors will help make up for the new gas engine’s lack of turbochargers. The Chiron’s gas engine had four turbochargers that pushed air into the engine to help it produce more power. Mate Rimac said they wanted this new engine to be “naturally aspirated,” meaning there would be no turbochargers.

“We wanted to make the most exciting, most emotional combustion engine possible,” Rimac said, “and that is high revving, naturally aspirated.”

The car’s interior is, likewise, an homage to old-fashioned machinery. The Tourbillon is named after a set of gears that helps maintain accuracy in a mechanical watch. The Bugatti’s instrument display is modeled on mechanical watch dials.

“One of the first things we did when the new company was formed, I took the whole team to Switzerland and we visited a few watchmakers,” Rimac told CNN.

The central speedometer display even has two needles like the hands of a clock. The long hand shows the car’s speed while the short hand registers the revolutions per minute of the high-revving 16-cylinder engine.

With a fully charged battery, the car will be able to travel about 37 miles on purely electric power before the gas engine needs to turn on, but the driver will have the option to run the gas engine continuously, if they wish.

Unlike past Bugattis, though, the Tourbillon does have a reasonably large display screen with Apple CarPlay available. The screen will only come out and become visible when the driver requests it, though. In general, Bugatti designers have avoided putting screens in the cars in the belief that computer displays look outmoded quickly.

“We think, really, how will this product look in 50 years, 100 years,” said Rimac. “And it’s clear that, if you have a screen, it won’t look that great.”

The cars will still be assembled one at a time at Bugatti’s small factory in Molsheim, France. A total of only 250 Tourbillons will be built, Mate Rimac said, at a starting price of roughly US$4 million each.

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