Volkswagen chiefs are weeks from deciding irrevocably whether to put the million-pound Bugatti Galibier, their elegant and super-fast front-engined saloon concept, into production.
The plush and powerful four-seater, unveiled as a concept ahead of the Frankfurt show two years ago, is tipped to succeed the Veyron as the Molsheim factory’s staple manufacturing product, and could be in owners’ hands as early as autumn 2013 if VW Group chiefs okay the plans this autumn as expected.
According to Bugatti’s new chief, Wolfgang Dürheimer, who succeeded Franz-Josef Paefgen at both the French-based company and at Bentley last February, engineers have been “deeply involved” for many months in productionising the car. It uses unique chassis and running gear but shares the Veyron’s 8.0-litre W16 engine and may use a refined version of its unique, UK-built eight-speed gearbox.
The Galibier, which draws styling influence from the Veyron but also alludes to the classic Atlantic coupé with a spine running longitudinally over its roof and rear deck, was proposed with a 900bhp, twin-supercharged version of the Veyron’s 987bhp, quad-turbo W16 engine, but it will probably need even more power in production.
Dürheimer believes the car needs a “four-digit” power output, and that “as long as I’m around” it must be the fastest thing on the road. This implies the Galibier will need a sub-3.0sec 0-60mph time and a top speed beyond 240mph. The new chief is also understood to have ordered improvements to the car’s interior space, believing that the concept offered too little rear room for its 5.4-metre length.
Bugatti is believed to be putting the finishing touches to the Galibier business case, which could involve production of between 500 and 1500 units — in several models — over five or six years. Most sales, Bugatti believes, will be to existing Veyron owners.
For the foreseeable future, Dürheimer says, Bugatti will make extraordinary models one at a time, though it could eventually benefit from having a range. Dürheimer won’t discuss the Galibier’s price, beyond the fact that it will be extraordinary. “It’s the last thing we’ll decide when the car is close to production,” he said, but customers can expect little change from £1.5 million.