The End Of An Era — Bugatti’s W16 Will Be The Last Of Its Kind

The End Of An Era — Bugatti’s W16 Will Be The Last Of Its Kind

We’ve brought you pieces on Bugatti’s 8.0-liter W16 engine that has produced up to 1,825 horsepower in its quad-turbocharged form previously. For the past several years, there has been some debate as to whether or not the obscenely powerful powerplant would be discontinued, due to some comments from a Bugatti executive back in 2018. Then, it seemed as if it was going to get a reprieve from the chopping block in 2020 thanks to comments from Bugatti’s President Stephan Winkelmann.

However, as you can see in the title of the video above, released on the company’s YouTube channel on July 29th of this year, the pendulum appears to have swung back like the executioner’s axe, preparing to bring an end to the incredible feat of engineering that is, was, and will forever be the W16 engine.

The 7,993cc W16 achieved its displacement through two banks of eight staggered cylinders (themselves arranged in a 15-degree V) arranged in a 90-degree V (think two VR8 engines mated at 90 degrees). The W16 is a square engine design, with an equal 86.0mm (3.386-inch) bore and stroke, making for the ever-popular 500cc-per-cylinder displacement. The forged-aluminum block was fitted with an eight-stage dry-sump oiling system, forged crankshaft, and titanium rods.

Here, you can see the core of the W16’s unique layout. With a 90-degree deck angle, each bank has its own 15-degree bank angle, making the two Vs a ‘W”.

Up top, a pair of dual overhead camshafts control 32 valves per bank, for 64 valves in total. The intake ports were famously force-fed by a quad-turbocharger design through a pair of top-mounted air-to-water intercoolers. The original concept engines “only” produced between 632 and 710 horsepower, depending on the vehicle application. Thankfully, those were only teaser engines.

Once put into production, the lowest-power configuration ever utilized made 987 horsepower, with variants peaking making 1,578 horsepower. Then a final concept engine was revealed with an astounding 1,825 horsepower with “110 octane racing fuel.” More astounding was that the hyper engine actually made it into production, dropped into the limited run “Bolide” track-oriented vehicle. That is 228 horsepower per liter of displacement, for those of you who are fond of such metrics. That puts it into very rarefied territory for an automotive engine, while having the option to run 98 RON (the equivalent to 93-octane R+M/2 in the US) and still make the 1,578 horsepower figure.

However, with the Chiron and Bolide’s final run sold out, it looks like the W16’s days are numbered. If everyone’s interpretation of Bugatti’s video title is correct, once production of the run is complete, that’s all she wrote for the W16. Or else Bugatti just wants to troll all of us and get our emotions in a tizzy. While the former is more likely to be the case, we can always hope that this is a prelude to something even more stout than the infamous W16.

The cylinder heads are one of the largest points of confusion on all of VAG’s (yes, we know that Bugatti is now separate from VAG) VR and W engines is that a single cylinder head can be used on an engine with bore angles greater than zero. Each 32-valve head tops two banks of four inline cylinders.

About the author

Greg Acosta

Greg has spent eighteen years and counting in automotive publishing, with most of his work having a very technical focus. Always interested in how things work, he enjoys sharing his passion for automotive technology with the reader.
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