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Fine Art Masquerading As A Sedan

Bugatti 16C Galibier Concept – Click above for new high-res image gallery

Bugatti invited us to the first unveiling of its new 16C Galibier Concept on U.S. soil at a special event in Southern California last week. While we have all seen the press images from its debut in Molsheim last month, the select in-person preview gave us an excellent opportunity to talk with Bugatti about the concept, scrutinize the vehicle up close, and to actually spend some time sitting inside the passenger cabin.

The first modern four-door from Bugatti is absolutely striking in the flesh.
Introduced as the automaker's first modern four-door sedan, the 16C Galibier Concept is a close look at what the production 16C Galibier will resemble when it goes on sale in about three years (with a sales price estimated to be about $1.6 million). While it's engineered to be a sedan without peers – and we have no reason to question Bugatti's ability to accomplish this objective – the mechanical aspects of the Galibier will have to take a back seat to its design until the production model arrives in 2012.

In this rarefied automotive segment, the utilitarian value of the vehicle is absent. Vehicles are purchased for their design – that physical aura – and their historical distinction. Performance is expected. Understanding the connection, Bugatti chose a prestigious Beverly Hills gallery to host the event. After a brief introduction, the fabric cover hiding the concept was removed. Follow the jump to find out our reaction.

Standing three feet from the exposed deep blue carbon-fiber and polished aluminum bodywork of the 16C Galibier Concept, our jaws dropped. The first modern four-door from Bugatti is absolutely striking in the flesh.

It starts up front. If a person's eyes are the windows to his or her soul, the sculpted headlamps of the Galibier speak volumes about the company's century-long history and attention to detail. Set deep within their buckets, miniature LED bulbs circle the main lens. Bracketing the perimeter of each lens are two more rings emitting a bluish light – these irises are emblazoned with the illuminated Bugatti logo. Each headlamp bucket is detailed by a softly glowing white frame. The detail is mesmerizing, and it continues throughout the vehicle.

Take that prominent Type 57 Atlantic "spine" for example. It runs from the nose to the tail and intersects no fewer than three different body construction materials. Unfettered, Bugatti designers whisked it off the trailing edge of the bonnet as a tiny barb, continued it up the windshield in the form of a polished metal rod supporting the mirror, and then dropped it back down the rear hatch as an illuminated third brake light. It is unique, and it integrates extremely well with the flowing lines of the teardrop theme.

The most controversial styling of the 16C Galibier is found in the rear. Admittedly, in photographs it does look a biological twin to the Porsche Panamera. However, the additional sculptural detailing in the Bugatti – including a prominent taper as the "spine" drops below the beltline – differentiates the two quite smartly in the flesh. Eight individual polished exhaust pipes, and tail lamps as hypnotizing as the headlamps, incontestably define the Galibier as the prize horse at the show.

The cabin of the 16C Galibier is presented with four bucket seats – each with an artfully sculpted aluminum headrest support. Primary analog instrumentation (speedometer and horsepower gauge) prominently occupy the center of the dashboard for all passengers to see. Secondary digital instrumentation is contained on a large display set behind the steering wheel. The center console housing the flush transmission selector is rather uncluttered. It continues into the rear passenger compartment where it mimics a flying buttress – open at the bottom. It is both functional, and elegant.

Our six-foot two-inch frame fit well in all seating positions. Settled into the Concept's comfortable front seat, outward visibility is better than average. No doubt, most of the credit goes to the oversized exterior mirrors that eliminate much of the guessing and make the blind spots manageable. While passengers in the rear won't get to enjoy driving the sedan, the back seats are very accommodating and offer plenty of room. Large windows add to the airy feel and dispel any thoughts of claustrophobia.

As a concept – albeit one rather smartly-finished prototype – the 16C Galibier is very much a work-in-progress, says Bugatti. While the vehicle appears close to production, there are still countless details continuously being refined.

As of now, we know that the powerplant shares its 8.0-liter W-16 architecture with the Veyron, but the quad-turbo arrangement has been dropped in favor of twin superchargers. In addition, a new 8-speed transmission is expected to replace the 7-speed DSG. The final horsepower figures for the all-wheel drive Galibier have not been released, but Bugatti promises that when it arrives in the next few years, it will be the fastest and most powerful four-passenger sedan on the planet – and one stunning piece of fine art.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      at 1.6m I'd rather buy a house, a couple bimmers, a couple benzes, and a yacht, and etc etc.


      I like everything but the chrome and the 8 exhaust pipes which seems a bit like overkill, I'm wondering if this is going to be the start of a new octo-exhaust trend?
        • 5 Years Ago
        we already have cars with stacked dual side pipes, 4 in total, so maybe a tail pipe numbers competition will be the next "in" thing like huge wings, gold exterior trim, and jacked up oversize tires...
      • 5 Years Ago
      wait a second, no live shots?!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Stunning piece of automotive sculpture, but $1.6 million for a car seems so incredibly unjustifiable, just as it did with the Veyron, no matter how fast or capable it is. Even if I had the money, I couldn't bring myself to buy such an ostentatious car, when there are so many people struggling to eat every day.
        • 5 Years Ago
        True, but a Bugatti buyer looks at this vehicle as they look at a $20M yacht or $40M personal jet... it is a lifestyle purchase, a reward for their success. It is the best money can buy. Someone who wants transportation can get a Camry sedan and save more than a few bills.

        - Mike
        • 5 Years Ago

        pointless for you, but i would buy one if i had the spare money.
        keep it in the family and sell it for more when i'm to old for walk on my own feet.

        : )
        • 5 Years Ago
        each buggati is assembled/build by 1 man.
        the best of the best materials.

        each bugatti has it's personal mechanic(the same that build the car, i heard), they fly anywhere needed.

        the veyron has 27 cpu's to control all the power.
        exspect the same on this car.

        yes, i think it's justified.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Undoubtedly the cost is justified by the complexity of the technology, craftsmanship and materials, but my point is that as beautiful, amazing and stunning as these cars are, they're pointless,and merely a gross show of excess.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I have a special place in my heart for Bugatti.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I can't quite put my finger on it, but those head and taillights remind me of the warp nacelles on the original, 1960s Enterprise from Star Trek. If the lenses/LEDs rotated as the engine built up power, it would look (and feel) quite like warp speed...

      If I were lucky enough to own a Flying Spur, a Ghost, or a Rapide, I'd still feel awed if I were to ever pull up next to a Galibier. Maybe a Mulsanne or a Phantom, but even those don't quite give me the same feeling...
      • 5 Years Ago
      I like it, mainly due to it's relation to the 30's classic. But I don't love it.

      For me, I'd have to have custom headlights made; those giant ones don't do it for me at all. Maybe if I saw them in person, but probably not.

      Eight tailpipes? No way. Not in my world. Looks goofy to me. Again, I'd order custom shop work to remove them if I was spending 1.6 million. Two is more than enough. But if they need 8 for the flow, I'd have mine custom remade to be two big, wide oval exits instead.

      Finally, I'd have all the badges deleted except the one in the grille and the one on the clock. One on the exterior and one on the interior can stay. That's enough. An absolute "must go away" is the "EB" on the rear -- that's about as tacky as a mall rat running around in sweatpants with the "Juicy" logo on the center of her butt. Pure eurotrash style, it belongs in an 80's French discotheque.

      Anyone knowledgeable who sees this car will know what it is and who made it and those who aren't knowledgeable will certainly know it's something special anyway. I generally prefer to let the design speak for itself.
        • 5 Years Ago
        the car is very wide.
        i think it's fits the car.

        the veyron engine produces a astonishing +/- 2206.50KW(that's 2.206 MW) of energry, from who 1500+KW is heat.
        the exhaust gas is about 1000ºc.
        (click cooling)

        i don't think, even if you would have the money, you would tool a master piece.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Everything you said mirrors my sentiments exactly - especially regarding the church organ...er...I mean exhaust, and the overly-large badges.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Wasn't it on Top Gear that I heard that over 60% of high end "executive sedans" in Europe like AMGs and M-series BMWs are ordered with the "badge delete" option?

        And, yes, naturalyshocked, I certainly WOULD expect a car to be customized precisely to MY tastes if I was spending 1.6 million on it. Even if I had to pay an additional fee to do so. And while I'd strongly prefer to have it done by the original manufacturer as a one-off, I wouldn't hesitate to use a third party to *remove* tacky bling.

        Something like this car, you simply don't purchase for resale. I mean you could, but I wouldn't. And after I'm dead, perhaps the auction house clients will recognize my superior taste and bid accordingly. ;)
      • 5 Years Ago
      Now THIS is a luxury car! This will be MINE someday!
      • 5 Years Ago
      the headlights are mesmerizing lol...

      Ill take 2 of these..one for my daily driver and another for my little brother getting on the A B honor roll. ...........jp
      • 5 Years Ago
      Oh....I came a little
      • 5 Years Ago
      Beautiful. The sport version will need 16 tailpipes though. Eight is just slightly too sane.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Of course we brought our camera equipment, but they wouldn't let us use it... this time.

      - Mike
      • 5 Years Ago
      I love the design, but at what cost? about double-that of the Veyron? o_O

      Slowly looks away interested at the shiny thing.

      But I guess this can be someone's dream car. In their dream's dreams...
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