The Mistral is Bugatti’s farewell to the internal combustion era

by Jason Barlow | Aug 23, 2022
Bugatti Mistral in action
PHOTO: Bugatti
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This is the Mistral, the car with which Bugatti is bidding farewell to the internal combustion era. As we’re talking eight liters, 16 cylinders, four turbochargers and 1,600 metric horsepower here, that is some era, and clearly something special is required to send this incarnation of Bugatti on its way. How does a full-blown Roadster/Speedster grab you?

“This is the last of the line,” the company’s design director Achim Anscheidt tells TopGear.com during an exclusive preview. We’re in the Remise Sud in Bugatti’s Molsheim HQ, next door to the Chateau St. Jean, which founder Ettore Bugatti bought in 1928 in order to entertain potential clients.

Front view of the Bugatti Mistral

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Rear view of the Bugatti Mistral

“I wanted the roadster to exude elegance and to have longevity amongst our clients’ collections,” he continues. “People will be acutely aware that this is the last of its kind, that it’s something very significant. Approaching this project reminded me of the last cars Jean Bugatti did in the pre-WWII era. He was a very gifted stylist and designer in his own right, and as a team we felt enormous pressure to deliver something that really celebrated this landmark moment.”

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Bugatti cites the 1934 Type 57 Grand Raid, as bodied by Swiss/French coachbuilder Gangloff, as the ‘muse’ for the new car, and the Mistral debuts in a duo-tone black with truffle brown paint treatment enlivened by yellow accents. Apparently this was Ettore Bugatti’s preferred color scheme. Check out the V-shaped windshield and the aero head rest supports, both of which have echoes in the Mistral.

Rear tracking shot of the Bugatti Mistral

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Following the Chiron, Divo, Centodieci, Voiture Noire, and Bolide, the Mistral does the one thing Bugatti has so far resisted in the current era: remove the roof. A crowd-pleaser, for sure, but also consistent with the company’s fabulous legacy.

“Well over 40% of all Bugatti vehicles ever created have been open-top in design,“ says Mate Rimac, Bugatti Rimac CEO. “In the Chiron era there had, to date, been no roadster, so the introduction of the W16 Mistral continues this legacy, driven by enormous demand from our clients for an all-new way to experience the mighty performance of our iconic engine.”

Rear tracking shot of the Bugatti Mistral

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Front tracking shot of the Bugatti Mistral

The Mistral goes a lot further than the Veyron Grand Sport, the last ‘open’ Bugatti. Its design and engineering are completely bespoke, the company says, and the body has been extensively reworked. It draws freely on elements from all those previous Bugatti specials, so perhaps it’s akin to a greatest hits.

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“We started with the Divo,“ Anscheidt explains. “That car shows the Bugatti line in a different way, and has a different sort of proportion. Rather than a horizontal face, it has a vertical one. Then there’s La Voiture Noire, which reduced the elements even further, but introduced the visor windscreen. That was something I thought would lend itself to the roadster.”

Front quarter view of the Bugatti Mistral

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Rear quarter view of the Bugatti Mistral

Side view of the Bugatti Mistral

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That’s one striking motif. Then there’s the way the windshielf flows into the side air intakes before connecting with a body-side line that continues into the horseshoe grille. It’s a reinterpretation, says Anscheidt, of the Bugatti signature ‘C-hoop’ that anchors the profile of the Chiron. But with the engine air intakes now mounted above and behind the passenger compartment, there’s also a clever callback to the Veyron.

The ram induction air scoops are also part of the car’s safety structure, and can support the Mistral’s weight in the event of a roll-over. But let’s not dwell on that, eh? Bugatti says the new setup also enhances the W16’s unique sonic properties. This car is quite the canvas for an engine that swallows 70,000 liters of air per minute when being used ‘enthusiastically.’

Headlight detail of the Bugatti Mistral

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Taillight detail of the Bugatti Mistral

The quad headlights are intricate LEDs in a vertical configuration, but with a secret aerodynamic function: They funnel air out through the wheel arch. The extra width of the horseshoe grille means that the engine radiator is fed from one intake, the two side ones exclusively supplying the intercoolers.

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At the rear, the Bolide’s bravura X-theme receives a more elegant remix, brought to life here via a striking taillight treatment. But it, too, has a functional purpose, venting the side oil coolers through ducts that connect the negative space to the side radiators. So it looks good and has a cooling effect, another example of a design device that puts something apparently not there to positive effect (see also the Lotus Evija).

Cabin of the Bugatti Mistral

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Inside, the Mistral maintains the sensation of immense solidity that characterizes every modern Bugatti, while adding a more handcrafted feeling. There’s woven leather on the door panels, and the gearshifter—machined from a solid block of aluminum—houses a wood and amber insert of Rembrandt Bugatti’s dancing elephant sculpture (he was Ettore’s brother, and a hugely accomplished artist).

“We’ve achieved a Bottega Veneta feeling inside,” Anscheidt says. “The door panels are done by hand. You can individualize the gearshifter, do a 3D-print of your wife, your kids, your dog, or perhaps your own elephant.”

Ponder that awhile, but know that the Bugatti W16 Mistral costs €5 million (P279.24 million) net, and all 99 units are already spoken for.

More photos of the Bugatti Mistral:

Rear quarter view of the Bugatti Mistral in yellow

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Front quarter view of the Bugatti Mistral in yellow

Top view of the Bugatti Mistral in white

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Side view of the Bugatti Mistral in white

Front view of the Bugatti Mistral in blue

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Rear view of the Bugatti Mistral in blue

Side view of the Bugatti Mistral in black

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Front view of the Bugatti Mistral in black

Rear lighting signature of the Bugatti Mistral

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Cockpit of the Bugatti Mistral

Front seats of the Bugatti Mistral

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Rear tracking shot of the Bugatti Mistral

Front tracking shot of the Bugatti Mistral

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NOTE: This article first appeared on TopGear.com. Minor edits have been made.

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PHOTO: Bugatti
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