If there's one thing Bugatti can say no other modern automaker has offered the world, it's the W16 engine. It first appeared in the Veyron in 2005, making over 1000 horsepower and powering the car to a top speed of 254 mph, the highest of any production car in the world at the time. Since then, the engine has been retuned multiple times, with its most recent new appearance being in the track-focused 1500-horsepower Divo. But according to Bugatti's CEO, the W16 isn't long for this world.
In an interview with Australian site , Bugatti CEO Stephan Winkelmann confirmed that the clock is running out on the W16 engine.
"There will be no new 16-cylinder, this will be the last of its kind," Winkelmann told CarAdvice. "It is an incredible engine and we know there is huge enthusiasm for it, everybody would like to have it forever, to continue to develop it—we will do our utmost to keep it alive ... but if you want to be on the edge with advanced technology, it's important you choose the right moment to change."
What will replace the 16-cylinder engine? Some form of electrified drivetrain. Cars like the McLaren P1, Ferrari LaFerrari, Porsche 918 Spyder and Acura NSX have all shown what a high-performance hybrid drivetrain can do. Now even Bugatti is eyeing this potential.
"If the weight of the batteries is going down dramatically—as it is—and you can reduce the emissions to a level which is acceptable, then hybridization is a good thing," Winkelmann told CarAdvice. "But it has to be a solution that is credible for the people who are buying Bugattis today."
In other words, if hybrid tech can't match or exceed the performance Bugatti's customers are looking for, then the automaker won't use it. Weight seems to be an important factor for Winkelmann, but the race for more power is always prevalent.
"When I was at Lamborghini I always said power to weight ratio is the key. We always reckoned that one kilo less is more important than one horsepower more," Winkelmann told CarAdvice. "But we also discovered there is a race for more power, an ongoing battle, and everybody is looking for more and more."
For the Bugatti boss, the ongoing horsepower wars seem to preclude the possibility of finding other ways to increase performance and driving enjoyment, a fact that seems to frustrate him. "I think that the race for more power is not over, unfortunately in my opinion, because we could do different things," he told CarAdvice.