Bugatti returned to the electric-car segment after a decades-long hiatus by releasing a single-seater roadster that costs less than a new Mercedes-Benz C-Class. The catch is that it's a limited-edition model known as the Baby II that's a smaller replica of the race-winning Type 35 that blurs the line between a car and a toy.
Developed with The Little Car Company, the Baby II is a modern re-creation of the original Baby that company founder Ettore Bugatti built for his son Roland in 1926. It was 50% smaller than the Type 35, fully electric, fitted with wooden brakes, and envisioned as a one-off model. Bugatti's customers quickly caught wind of the Baby (which was also known as the Type 52) and requested one for their kids. Ultimately, about 500 units were made.
Fast forward to 2020, and the Baby II picks up where its predecessor left off with a body that's only 25% smaller than the Type 35. Adults can drive it, the images released by the company show test driver Andy Wallace having a blast behind the wheel, but it's likely too small to fit the average NBA player. Its interior features an instrument cluster like the Type 35's, a quick-release steering wheel, and adjustable seats, among other equipment.
Buyers have three variants named Base, Vitesse, and Pur Sang to choose from. The base model has a composite body, a 1.4-kilowatt-hour battery pack, and hydraulic brakes. Its electric motor sends 1.3 horsepower to the rear wheels through a limited-slip differential when the driver selects Novice mode, but that figure increases to 5.8 horses when Expert mode is dialed in. Its top speed checks in at 30 mph. The Vitesse and the Pur Sang each have a 2.8-kilowatt-hour battery, and they receive an upgraded powertrain that generates 13.4 horsepower when the driver uses the Bugatti Speed Key. They're both capable of reaching 42 mph. Vitesse models have a carbon fiber body, while the Pur Sang wears an aluminum body that takes about 200 hours to pound into shape by hand.
Range varies between 15 and 31 miles depending on the model selected, and owners can swap out the battery pack in a matter of seconds instead of waiting for a charge. And, while the Baby II is kind of like a big toy, it should deliver surprisingly sharp handling. Bugatti explained it 3D-scanned the Type 35 that won the Lyon Grand Prix and used that data to create a scaled-down suspension. It added adjustable dampers, however.
Bugatti will make 500 examples of the Baby II. Pricing ranges from 30,000 euros (about $35,000) for the base model to 58,500 euros (nearly $68,000) for the Pur Sang variant. Although the entire production run was spoken for in 2019, some customers ended up canceling their order due to the economic downturn so there are a handful of build slots still available. The firm said it will fill them on a first-come, first-served basis. Enthusiasts who want to add this pint-sized, battery-powered Bugatti to their collection can register their interest on the model's website.
Customer requests also shaped the first (and only) adult-sized electric car Bugatti has ever built. Called Type 56, it was a carriage-esque two-seater with a boat-like tiller instead of a steering wheel that Ettore Bugatti built to use on his property. He intended on making only a single example of the 20-mph Type 56, but he ended up manufacturing 10 units after clients visiting his estate in Molsheim, France, spotted it and asked to buy one. Four units are accounted for in 2020, including a largely unrestored 1931 model that Bugatti let us drive in 2018.