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Bugatti 16C Galibier concept (2009) unveiled in Molsheim

By Phil McNamara

First Official Pictures

14 September 2009 14:26

Bugatti is giving a glimpse of its future beyond the Veyron with this W16-powered four-seat limousine. Like its two-seat stablemate, the 16C Galibier aims to be the ultimate: the fastest, most powerful, most elegant and expensive car in the world. Officially it’s a concept car, but Bugatti has started showing the Galibier to customers; if sufficient open up their Swiss accounts, expect the green light in spring 2010 with sales beginning within three years. Assuming the Galibier has a smoother path to production than the Veyron did…

What’ll she do mister? Give us the details on this Bugatti 16C Galibier…

Bugatti was suitably glib with Galibier details. No mention of power and torque outputs beyond them being ‘similar’ to the 987bhp Veyron’s. That would mean 0-62mph in around 3.0sec. The speedo runs to almost 400kmh, so this’ll top 200mph like a Bentley Continental GT. The 8.0-litre engine sends torque to all four wheels, varying the distribution of grunt according to grip levels. But instead of being breathed on by the Veyron’s four turbochargers, a pair of superchargers force air into the engine. Remapping will deliver more torque at low revs, as befits a limousine’s character, rather than a sports car’s. Bugatti says the engine can guzzle E85 ethanol as well as 97RON. No word on the transmission, although nudges and winks suggest that the Veyron’s eight-speed double clutch box won’t figure.

The chassis and body are made of carbonfibre, aside from the doors and front wings that are aluminium. The structure boosts rigidity and keeps weight down, although Bugatti wouldn’t be drawn on a figure. As for size, the five-door hatchback is about as big as a BMW 7-series saloon, with a similar 3m+ wheelbase. The concept rolls on 22-inch wheels with 285/35 section rubber.

The design is a bit Porsche Panamera…

Certainly in profile but the Galibier looks lower and more stately. And its details are much more harmonious. The front end – with its horseshoe grille and stunning, intricate headlamps – have a clear family resemblance to the Veyron’s. The two-tone bodywork is classic Bugatti, while the curvaceous rear is inspired by the legendary Type 57S Atlantic. Spot the lineage in that roof spine and split window graphic, and the curvaceous tail like the prow of a boat. No less than eight exhaust pipes sit beneath the rear bumper. 

What about the cabin?

This is the Galibier’s masterpiece, harmoniously finished in tan leather (woven in places) and beautiful wood. The curved dash is very simple, with the speedo and power meter taking pride of place centrally and visible to all passengers. Which may prove a curse if you’re giving the mother-in-law a quick ride home. There’s no ugly transmission stalk, but a series of buttons for park/reverse/neutral/drive/sport on the central dividing plinth, and you can scroll through music/navigation/phone functions via the instrument binnacle. Very elegant and a great way to keep the dash uncluttered and the driver focused on the autobahn.

In the rear, there are twin sculpted leather perches, which hug your back and sides but provide insufficient underthigh support. Legroom is about the same as a 7-series’. It feels snug, like a big coupé in there, although rear visibility is fine.

The Galibier – a name which graced a four-seat, pillarless coupé body on the Type 57 chassis – looks pretty much a done deal. Expect the next chapter of the Bugatti story to emerge in 2013, with another seven figure price tag.