Bugatti Voiture Noire: £13m hyper-coupe is world's most expensive car

Published: 05 March 2019

► New Bugatti La Voiture Noire
► One-off coachbuilt grand tourer
► World’s priciest new car: €11m!

Just when you thought lofty Bugatti could go no more stratospheric, along comes this: the new Bugatti La Voiture Noire costing a cool €11 million (£9.5m), and that’s before local taxes.

Unveiled at the 2019 Geneva motor show, the coachbuilt two-seater GT is a one-off made for a very lucky (and wealthy) customer. Based upon the running gear of a Chiron, ‘The Black Car’ reflects how the French hypercar brand is branching out into more bespoke, personalised manufacturing to satisfy the ambitious minds of the world’s most powerful and imaginative car collectors.

It’s a trend we’re seeing repeated at Ferrari, Lamborghini, Aston Martin and McLaren, as they build ever-smaller runs of bespoke cars to cater for the rich list’s whims.This one-off is built to coincide with the French brand’s 110th anniversary and is inspired by one of the most famous Bugattis of all: the extraordinary Type 57 SC Atlantic (above, left).

This continues the brand’s coachbuilding history; the Atlantic itself was offered in five bodystyles including the Galibier (four-door saloon), Stelvio (convertible), Ventoux (two-door saloon) and Atalante (coupe).

Bugatti La Voiture Noire: ‘the comfort of a luxury limousine and the power of a hyper sports car’

There are worse places to start than with a Chiron for your platform. The 8.0-litre W16 engine is carried over and still drives all four wheels through a particularly beefy seven-speed dual-clutch transmission; its vital stats mirror the standard Chiron for this one-off creation:

• Power 1480bhp
• Torque 1180lb ft
Economy 12.6mpg
• CO2 emissions 516g/km
• Performance No 0-62mph times or top speed is quoted

Bugatti Voiture Noire at the 2019 Geneva motor show - rear view

The chassis is tuned for greater compliance to lend extra compliance and comfort to the Chiron’s imperious corner-carving. Of the brawny W16, Bugatti president Stephan Winkelmann said: ’This is not only an engine but the heart of the vehicle and a technical masterpiece. There is no other car in the world with such an engine. It is not only extremely powerful but also beautiful to look at.’

It’s certainly huge, the engine bay dominating much of the car’s footprint when viewed from overhead.

The design story

You’ll notice plenty of familiar Bugatti tropes, but this car is entirely reskinned, according to its makers. ‘Every single component has been handcrafted and the carbonfibre body has a deep black gloss only interrupted by the ultrafine fibre structure,’ says Bugatti designer Etienne Salomé.

‘This is a material that has been handled perfectly. We worked long and hard on this design until was nothing that we could improve. For us, the coupe represents the perfect form with a perfect finish.’It’s certainly dramatic. The most striking detail is the crease running down the spine of the Voiture Noire, paying homage to the Atlantic’s dorsal fin. Picked out in chrome, it’s a dramatic framework for the design, contrasting sharply with the dull black paintwork.

New vertically stacked headlamps provide a fresh take on the Bugatti face, while the side profile has a strong wedge with a fighter canopy effect windowline not dissimilar to the glasshouse on a Nissan GT-R. The theatre continues at the rear, as Bugatti has added six horizontally stacked exhaust pipes underneath a full-width lighting bar. Note also the two-tone tyres, visually stretching the design of the huge turbine-effect alloy wheels. Very unusual.

The boss speaks

Only four Type 57 SC Atlantics were made between 1936 and 1938, with just three surviving to this day. It was launched just before the Second World War by the company founder Ettore’s son Jean.‘La Voiture Noire is a far more than a modern interpretation of Jean Bugatti’s Type 57 SC Atlantic,’ says Winkelmann.

‘It is a feast of aesthetics. Bugatti arouses passion and emotions throughout the world. Customers expect us to continually surprise them and to raise the goalposts beyond the limits of their imagination. We have just succeeded in doing so with La Voiture Noire.’

That lofty €13m (£11.4m) on-the-road price makes the bespoke black Bugatti the most expensive new car of all time, according to Molsheim. And if you’re scratching around the back of the sofa looking for some loose change, don’t bother. It really is a one-off and has been bought by an anonymous collector ‘fascinated by the Atlantic.’

By Tim Pollard

Editorial director of CAR's digital publishing arm. Motoring news magnet