W16 has plenty of potential.
Take a look at where the automotive industry is heading today, and you might conclude that electric propulsion represents the future of powertrain development and the vehicles they're being made to motivate. But Bugatti feels otherwise.
"The combustion engine is the real state-of-the-art powertrain," the company's CEO Stephan Winkelmann told Motor Authority, challenging the conventional wisdom currently prevailing across the industry. And he both knows a thing or two about internal-combustion engines – having run Lamborghini and Audi Sport before moving to Bugatti – and has the data to back it up.
When Bugatti first put its enormous 8.0-liter quad-turbo W16 engine on the road in the Veyron back in 2005, it developed 987 horsepower – a total output that was unheard of at the time. But it's since been amped up even further: to 1,184 hp in the Veyron Super Sport and Vitesse, to 1,479 in the current Chiron, and 1,578 in the Centodieci and Chiron Super Sport 300+. Winkelmann evidently feels the engine has more room to grow still.
In its most powerful iteration, the W16 has a specific output of 197.25 horsepower per liter.
Compare that to the much smaller turbo four in, say, the Mercedes-AMG A45 S, which produces 207.5 hp/liter, and the Chiron's engine could be making 1,660 hp – a solid 68 percent more than it first did in the Veyron.
Winkelmann's assertion about the potential (realized or otherwise) of internal combustion comes, somewhat ironically, as the company considers producing its first EV. That could, according to the chief, take the form of a 2+2 "all-weather vehicle" with a higher seating position and ride height than a conventional passenger car – but semantically asserts, like rivals Ferrari and Rolls-Royce, that it would not be an SUV.