Bugatti Tourbillon: An Automotive Icon ‘POUR L’ÉTERNITÉ’

THE BUGATTI TOURBILLON: AN AUTOMOTIVE ICON ‘POUR L’ÉTERNITÉ’
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In 2004, the reborn Bugatti brand transformed the world of automotive performance and luxury with a 1,001 hp hyper sports car: the Veyron. The first road car with more than 1,000 hp was succeeded in 2016 by another engineering feat so ambitious it reset all expectations of performance, the world’s first 1,500 hp car: the Chiron. At the heart of these cars was the world’s most advanced automotive engine: an 8.0-liter quad-turbo W16. Now, 20 years after Bugatti invented the hyper sports car, it redefines the concept completely with an entirely new powertrain and platform. This is the Bugatti Tourbillon.

THE BUGATTI TOURBILLON

NAME AND PHILOSOPHY  

Mate Rimac, CEO of Bugatti, said:  The development of the Bugatti Tourbillon was guided at every step by the 115 years of Bugatti history and the words of Ettore Bugatti himself. His mantras ‘if comparable it is no longer Bugatti’ and ‘nothing is too beautiful’ were a guiding path for me personally, as well as the design and engineering teams looking to create the next exciting era in the Bugatti hyper sports car story.  

“Icons like the Type 57SC Atlantic, renowned as the most beautiful car in the world, the Type 35, the most successful racing car ever, and the Type 41 Royale, one of the most ambitious luxury cars of all time, provide our three pillars of inspiration. Beauty, performance and luxury formed the blueprint for the Tourbillon; a car that was more elegant, more emotive and more luxurious than anything before it. Quite simply, incomparable. And just like those icons of the past, it wouldn’t be simply for the present, or even for the future, but Pour l’éternité – for eternity.”  

As the first Bugatti in more than 20 years not powered by the iconic W16 engine, the tradition of naming core models after legendary Bugatti racing drivers of the past is no longer applied. Instead, the name Tourbillon was chosen as the perfect encapsulation of this car’s character. A French word, and a subtle reference to Bugatti’s French heritage and home in Molsheim, the tourbillon is a watchmaking invention of a Swiss-born genius living in France in 1801. A completely original creation without compare, it is both complex and beautiful, helping to counteract the effects of gravity on a watch to ensure more consistent time-keeping. And over 200 years later it is still revered as the pinnacle of watchmaking.  

This sense of mechanical timelessness was a core part of the Bugatti Tourbillon journey. For a car that will be displayed on the concours lawns of this and the next centuries, technology can easily date – especially large digital screens – so it’s important that it uses as many timeless components as possible. The Tourbillon therefore utilizes a number of design and engineering techniques that will never age, including a completely analogue instrument cluster crafted by Swiss watchmakers and finished with the same care and attention you find in the world’s greatest timepieces. Just as these become heirlooms over generations, the Tourbillon is designed as a car for eternity.  

DESIGN & AERODYNAMICS

As with every Bugatti of the modern era, the Tourbillon is ‘shaped by speed’. The ability to travel at more than 400km/h requires every single surface, inlet and ridge to be finely honed to ensure it is not only aerodynamic but also beneficial to the car’s thermodynamics. This is the guiding principle of the Tourbillon, which is then evolved around four Bugatti design elements inspired by history: the horseshoe grille, the Bugatti Line, the central ridge and the dual color split.  

Frank Heyl, Bugatti Director of Design, said: “The creations of Ettore and Jean Bugatti are ingenious in their aerodynamics, innovation and enduring beauty. We draw from the Bugatti Type 35, where the whole shape of the car was guided by the shape of the horseshoe grille, tapering back into this streamlined fuselage shape. We find inspiration in the Type 57SC Atlantic – the S stood for Surbaissé, which essentially meant lowered – bringing down the frontal area, lowering the roofline, lowering the driver and creating this wonderful stance and proportion. That’s something that was very important for us, carefully curating the placement of volumes that are both functional but also supporting the extreme proportions of the car. If the car is lower, it looks wider and the size of the wheels are emphasized; it looks like there is tension in the muscles, a posture ready to pounce. Every design decision is geared towards creating a sense of speed even at a standstill.  

“Ever since Jean Bugatti began to apply bold dual-tone paintwork to his cars, it has become an important part of Bugatti design DNA, and in the Tourbillon, we evolve it once more in an authentic but modern way. That split happens around our fourth key design element: the Bugatti line, inspired by the color split lines of the Type 41 Royale and reborn as a core design element of both Veyron and Chiron. In-keeping with our new proportions, and lowered roofline, the Bugatti line now curves around more sharply, leaning forwards slightly as it winds its way around the roof, imbuing the side profile with a leaping motion.”  

Although beautiful in its design and proportions, every surface, intake and vent is carefully honed to balance the enormous aerodynamic forces of a car travelling at over 400km/h as well as the thermodynamic requirements of a V16 engine, electric motors and battery at full performance.  

Using over 20 years of expertise from the Veyron and Chiron, the Tourbillon features a number of patented technologies. As a result, the rear wing even remains submerged during top speed runs, with a perfect equilibrium of forces generated by these new innovations. The wing is utilized to establish higher downforce at slower speeds and as an airbrake for improved stability under deceleration.

At the heart of the Tourbillon’s design ethos is the iconic horseshoe, from which all lines of the car originate, shaping the central fuselage volume. Docked onto that left and right are the flying fenders that allow to stream air underneath the headlights to boost air mass flow into the side intakes. This intricate interplay of airflow is further exemplified by the frontal design, which, while maintaining the dimensions of a sculpted overhang, ingeniously houses an ultra-efficient cooling system that directs air through and out of the front bonnet, augmenting downforce while ingeniously packaging a sizable frunk in between the two radiators.  

A set of advanced, electrically actuated dihedral doors not only allow for easy entry into the vehicle but provide a dramatic sense of arrival, able to be opened and closed from the key fob, the door opening button found just underneath the Bugatti Line and on the center console.

POWERTRAIN AND PERFORMANCE

The Bugatti W16 engine was unlike any other automotive engine in the world when it was revealed. With its four turbos and prodigious power figures, it set a new benchmark for the limits of combustion engine technology, and two decades after its creation it’s still unmatched or replicated. Following in its footsteps is another incomparable masterpiece of internal combustion engineering, paired with the immediate torque and flexibility of electric motors.  

This next-generation Bugatti hyper sports car is powered by an all-new 8.3-liter naturally aspirated V16 engine – engineered with the help of Cosworth – paired with a front e-Axle with two electric motors and one electric motor mounted at the rear axle. In total, the Tourbillon produces 1,800 hp with 1,000 from the combustion engine itself and 800 hp from the electric motors. It’s an extraordinary achievement – delivered thanks to a host of cutting-edge materials and technology – given the Veyron achieved 1,001 hp from its 8.0-liter capacity engine with four turbochargers, and the new V16 is completely naturally aspirated. Constructed from lightweight materials, the engine weighs just 252 kg.  

ENGINEERING

The Tourbillon is designed around entirely new chassis and body structure. The structure is made from a next-generation T800 carbon composite, which incorporates a number of weight-saving innovations, such as integrating the battery as a structural part of the monocoque and an unprecedented crash composite rear diffuser, inspired by top level motorsport. The front composite airducts that flow through the front of the car are also integral to the structure, ensuring that each and every part of the rigid, lightweight structure is optimized. For example, the front and rear frames exhibit low pressure thin wall aluminum casting and 3D printed structural braces, contributing to a structure that is significantly lighter and stiffer than its predecessor!

COMING IN 2026  

Mate Rimac, Bugatti CEO, said: “We look back through Bugatti history at the creations of Ettore and Jean and you can immediately see that they refused to compromise. The amount of patents Ettore had to his name was incredible, because he didn’t ever want the simplest solution, he always wanted the best solution, even if it didn’t exist yet. He’d go away and he’d build it, test it and refine it until it was perfect. And then he’d make it beautiful. It is why the cars are so revered today, and it is the driving force behind everything we have done with Tourbillon.  

“So yes, it is crazy to build a new V16 engine, to integrate with a new battery pack and electric motors and to have a real Swiss-made watchmaker instrument cluster and 3D-printed suspension parts and a Crystal Glass center console. But it is what Ettore would have done, and it is what makes a Bugatti incomparable and timeless. Without that kind of ambition, you might create a great hyper sports car, but you wouldn’t create an icon Pour l’éternité’.  

The Bugatti Tourbillon now enters its testing phase, with prototypes already on the road in anticipation for customer deliveries in 2026. A total of 250 examples will be built, with a starting price of 3.8m EUR net. Hand-assembly will take place at the Bugatti Atelier in Molsheim, following the final W16-powered Bugatti models, Bolide and W16 Mistral.