Bugatti’s monster engines are becoming stylish.
This is it. The end of an era. The 2024 Bugatti Mistral will be the last car the famed hypercar manufacturer has ever built with a powerful, 8.0-liter, quad-turbo W-16 engine. Only 99 will be produced and despite the $5.1 million price tag, all have already been sold.
The Mistral gets power from the same 1600-horsepower version of the W-16, the record-breaking Chiron Super Sport 300+ propulsion engine, making it the most powerful convertible internal combustion engine production car ever built. Bugatti’s previous roadster, the 1,200-horsepower Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse, set a convertible production car speed record of 254.04 mph in 2013. Bugatti’s chief design officer Achim Anscheidt said the company is planning to reach a top speed of 260 mph in Mistral.
It’s more than what’s below.
Mistral is basically a Chiron Super Sport under the skin. But it’s not just a Chiron Super Sport with the roof removed. “You can’t just open a Chiron,” Anscheidt said, no less importantly, he pointed out, because that would compromise the sweeping arc that starts at the A-pillar and loops around the side of the car. “It’s going to look awful.”
Mistral’s sharper exterior surfaces and lines are more than just a solution to an existing design challenge. They hint at styling directions for the next generation bugatti plug-in hybrid currently being developed at a new design and engineering center in Berlin, Germany, and in Zagreb, Croatia, the site of the global headquarters of the Bugatti Rimac Group headed by Mate. Rimac.
There are elements of the Bugatti Divo in the overall form of the Mistral, although it does not come to the point of being too demanding in terms of detail. “Divo was pretty aggressive,” Anscheidt admitted. “This car simplifies that a little bit. Bugatti has strong graphics DNA and the stronger the graphics DNA, the calmer the rest of the car becomes.”
The famous horseshoe grille is the widest ever seen on a modern Bugatti and is surrounded by large ventilation holes, vertically stacked headlights and ducts that create air curtains along the sides of the car to improve aerodynamic efficiency. The impressive rear taillight graphics are inspired by the Bugatti Bolide dedicated to the track. “That car has such a strong identity,” Anschedt said. We want to transfer it to a production car.”
While the Chiron’s side-body loop markings hide the engine air intakes and oil coolers, in Mistral they have been visually separated. The side vents are for the oil cooler only, while hot air escapes at the rear of the car between the diagonal elements of the rear lights.
Lots of engines, no roof
Mistral’s powerful W-16 sucks in nearly 2,500 cubic feet of air per minute when the throttle runs out through two giant scoops mounted behind the seats. The air intakes are slightly larger than the Chiron Super Sport, but they have been designed to produce the same airflow. The hopper switched to the new airbox with a new filter setup and was strong enough to withstand the car’s more than 4,400 pounds of weight in the event of a rollover.
A bridge between two scoops hides a small glass panel designed to prevent hot air from the engine compartment from blowing into the open cockpit. There was no roof, and no plans other than a small emergency roof. Bugatti roadster owners do not drive in the rain.
Mistral’s steep A-pillars and side windows resemble the one-of-a-kind $18.9 million Bugatti La Voiture Noire. The updated A-pillars, which can also support the weight of the car on the move, require a reworking of the upper part of the Chiron bath. Reinforcing elements have also been placed into the doorway and central tunnel of the bath to compensate for the lack of roofing. As a result, the Mistral weighs about the same as a Chiron Super Sport and has very similar suspension settings.
Bugatti’s deputy chief design officer Frank Heyl said: “The goal is for the car to be able to drive like a Super Sport. However, the Mistral does not have the Extended Tail and larger rear wing of the Super Sport; instead, additional thrust is provided by a redesigned rear diffuser, like all Chirons – blown through by two of the six exhaust outlets. Mistral’s other four exhaust pipes exit through a single central exhaust outlet.
Luxury, it has it
Mistral’s cabin is lavishly decorated with leather on the doors and hand-woven seats by workers in Bugatti’s design department. The gear lever on the center console is machined from a monolithic aluminum block but consists of a wooden insert and, set in amber, a bronze miniature of Rembrandt Bugatti’s famous dancing elephant sculpture, originally used as a hood ornament on the splendid Type 41 built between 1927 and 1933.
Amber, as well as a combination of yellow and black, recalls the colors and materials favored by the Bugatti family. If they choose, instead of a miniature dancing elephant, Mistral owners can choose to have their own special keepsakes wrapped in teleporters.
The Mistral is also the first Volkswagen Group Bugatti car not to bear the brand’s past name — the Veyron and Chiron have been the names of Bugatti racers since the 1930s. When asked what Mistral meant, Aschim Anscheidt joked: “It means that Maserati [which built the car called Mistral between 1963 and 1970] did not renew the brand.”
More seriously, the name comes from a strong wind blowing down the Rhône Valley and through southern France, in order to strengthen Bugatti’s certification as a French brand, despite its Croatian and German owners. That’s also why there’s a red-white-blue tricolor band near the front wheels.
Bugatti Mistral was designed to present the W-16 in epic style, in honor of the unique sound and terrible thrust of one of the most distinctive engines ever put into automotive production. And if the Grand Sport Vitesse roadster, a car we’ve talked about offering the Bugatti Veyron experience in 7.1 surround sound, is any guide, driving the Mistral will indeed be a spectacular experience.