The battle to build the fastest roadster on the planet has heated up this weekend with Bugatti unveiling its latest model, called the Mistral.
It’s an open-top version of its stupendous Chiron hypercar, meaning it gets the same mammoth 16-cylinder, quad-turbocharged engine, thoroughbred all-wheel-drive system and gob-smacking design and interior opulence.
Bugatti bosses say the car has only one goal in mind: ‘to become the fastest roadster in the world once more.’
But it faces stiff competition. That’s because US brand Hennessey has also just unveiled a roofless Venom F5, which is says will be the fastest and most powerful roadster on sale.
Bugatti beauty: This is the new Mistral – an open-top version of the Chiron that is gunning for the title of world’s fastest production roadster. But it has some competition…
The Chiron’s predecessor, the Veyron, had the Grand Sport version as an open-top alternative, but until today there has not been a wind-in-the-hair variant of the Chiron, which launched back in 2016.
The £1.68million Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse had been the fastest roadster available to the paying public having clocked a verified top speed of 408.84kmh (254mph) in 2013.
However, that record lasted only three years when the Hennessey Venom GT Spyder posted a staggering 265.6mph – and still stands today.
Bugatti says it wants the crown back and the Mistral is the vehicle its bidding to reclaim the throne.
The hypercar maker confirmed that it is the road-going car that ‘brings the W16 era to an end’, but says it will sign-off the incredible powerplant with a vehicle that is ‘exclusive, elegant and powerful’.
Bosses say it must be ‘the very best of its kind’ and ‘the ultimate roadster’.
And it won’t be cheap.
Unveiling the car on Friday, bosses said the car has only one goal in mind: ‘to become the fastest roadster in the world once more’
Unsurprisingly, it won’t be cheap. Prices start from €5million (£4.2million), though only 99 examples will be built and all of them are already bought and paid for my Bugatti’s most dedicated customers who’ve already had a preview of the Mistral
The Chiron’s predecessor, the Veyron, had the Grand Sport version as an open-top alternative, but until today there has not been a wind-in-the-hair variant of the Chiron, which launched back in 2016
Prices start from €5million (£4.2million), though only 99 examples will be built.
It’s not the most expensive Bugatti sold to paying customers – that moniker still stands with the one-off La Voiture Noire launched in 2019, which cost a whopping £11.4million.
First deliveries are due to begin in 2024 with every car set to be produced already bought and paid for my Bugatti’s most dedicated customers who have been shown the Mistral weeks ahead of its public unveiling.
Mate Rimac, Bugatti Rimac CEO, said: ‘For the final road-going appearance of Bugatti’s legendary W16 engine, we knew we had to create a roadster.
‘Well over 40 per cent of all Bugatti vehicles ever created have been open-top in design, establishing a long lineage of performance icons that – to this day – are revered the world over.
‘In the Chiron era there had, to-date, been no roadster, so the introduction of 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.
‘The W16 Mistral opens the next chapter in the Bugatti roadster story, inspired by over a century of open top legends.’
The Hennessey Venom GT Spyder currently holds the record as the fastest production roadster, clocking a staggering 265.6mph in 2016. This is the top speed Bugatti will be aiming to beat with the Mistral
Bugatti confirmed that the Mistral will ‘bring the W16 era to an end’, but says it will sign-off the incredible powerplant with a vehicle that is ‘exclusive, elegant and powerful’
Mistral is powered by the 8-litre W16 quad-turbocharged petrol engine that is used in the 304.77mph Chiron Super Sport 300+
Bugatti lays claim to producing the fastest production car in the world. However, Guinness World Records refuses to recognise the SuperSport 300+’s record because the brand had failed to follow the correct protocol for measuring top speed
‘Mistral’ shares its name with the powerful wind that blows through the picturesque Côte d’Azur in southern France and into the Mediterranean.
It is powered by the most potent version of the W16 (essentially two V8 engines) quad-turbocharged 8.0-litre petrol engine that is used in the 304.77mph Chiron Super Sport 300+, which in 2019 claimed to have set an all-out record for a production car, only for Guinness World Records to later announce that it didn’t recognise the achievement because Bugatti had failed to follow the correct protocol for measuring top speed.
That means it should produce 1,578bhp with power being sent to all four wheels.
In theory, it should be able to exceed the 300mph mark, though there is no official word on its top speed until everything is verified.
However, while Bugatti says it will offer ‘performance unlike any open top car that has gone before’, that might not be the case.
Bugatti says the hulking engine will produce 1,578bhp – and all these rampaging horses will be sent to all four wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox
The bird’s-eye-view of the Mistral shows its stunning dimensions and how a Chiron hypercar would appear if the roof was chopped off
In theory, it should be able to exceed the 300mph mark, though there is no official word on its top speed until everything is verified
Bugatti says its Mistral will offer ‘performance unlike any open top car that has gone before’. However, that might not be the case. That’s because US brand Hennessey has also just unveiled its own competitor – the Venom F5 Roadster, which is claimed to be able to hit speeds of over 300mph
Bugatti Mistral vs Hennessey Venom F5 Roadster: Which will take the crown as fastest open-top car ever?
On sale: Now (sold out)
Production: 99 examples
Engine: 8.0-litre quad-turbocharged W16 petrol
Top speed: TBC
Transmission: 7-speed dual clutch automatic
HENNESSEY VENOM F5 ROADSTER
On sale: Now
Production: 30 examples
Engine: ‘Fury’ 6.6-litre twin-turbocharged V8 petrol
Top speed: TBC
Transmission: 7-speed single-clutch automated gearbox
That’s because the Hennessey also plans to better its own roadster record with the unveiling earlier this week of the F5 Venom Roadster.
While the Texas company’s open-top hypercar has only a twin-turbo V8 motor, it is claimed to produce a massive 1,817bhp – that’s 239 horses more than the Mistral, despite the latter having twice as many cylinders and less engine capacity.
Hennessey says it expects the F5 Venom Roadster to exceed 300mph, though hasn’t confirmed how fast it will go flat out when its detachable roof is removed and the driver is exposed to the elements.
Bosses at the American brand say its top speed will be verified around next year – which could create a mouth-watering competition with Bugatti, should the latter want to prove the Mistral is the outright record holder for a roof-down production machine.
In terms of design, Bugatti says its new car is a ‘modern-day work of art’.
It features a curved windscreen that seemingly wraps around the A-pillars like a helmet visor.
The French brand says this is a ‘marvel of engineering’, with the huge piece of glass curved just enough to create the rounded shape without distorting the driver’s vision.
One of the standout features is the car’s new curved windscreen. It wraps around the A-pillars like a helmet visor, though the curvature does not hamper visibility in any way, Bugatti says
It keeps the traditional horseshoe grille, though this is flanked by different headlights that are specifically shaped so that they funnel air through the vent above the cluster and out through the wheel arches to improve aerodynamic drag. At the back is a new ‘X-taillight’ cluster that’s bespoke for the Mistral and also have a functional design to expel heat from the W16 engine efficiently
‘Mistral’ shares its name with the powerful wind that blows through the picturesque Côte d’Azur in southern France and into the Mediterranean
While much of the Chiron looks have been retained, they have been tweaked for the top-down variant.
It keeps the traditional horseshoe grille, though this is flanked by different headlights that are specifically shaped so that they funnel air through the vent above the cluster and out through the wheel arches to improve aerodynamic drag.
The oil cooler intakes on the side have been separated from the engine air intake, which now sit on the roof behind the occupant’s head, to cool the W16 motor but also achieve optimum airflow but also double as protection for the driver and passenger should the car roll over.
At the back is a new ‘X-taillight’ cluster that’s bespoke for the Mistral and also have a functional design to expel heat from the W16 engine efficiently.
Inside, the cabin is as glorious as you would expect from a £4million-plus hypercar. All the switches on the centre console and dashboard are milled from lightweight titanium
The leather is the finest grade available and many of the metal components are made from single pieces of aluminium
The engine air intakes above the driver and passenger’s head are made from carbon fibre. Not only do they funnel cool air into the massive engine but double as crash protection if one of the 99 cars was to flip over
Inside, the cabin is as glorious as you would expect from a £4million-plus hypercar, with all the switches milled from lightweight titanium, many of the components made from aluminium and the finest-grade leather.
‘What we continue with W16 Mistral is a legacy of Bugatti roadsters, each of them incomparable in design, performance and rarity, which stretches right back to the genesis of Bugatti,’ Mate Rimac added.
‘The Type 40, Type 41 Royale, Type 55 Roadster, Type 57 Roadster Grand Raid that inspired this car, or even the incredible elegance of the Type 57 SC Corsica Roadster – Bugatti has always been associated with the purity of open top driving.
‘So even though the legacy of the road-going W16 ends with the W16 Mistral, we continue the legacy of the roadster, first established by Ettore Bugatti more than a century ago.’
CARS & MOTORING: ON TEST
Some links in this article may be affiliate links. If you click on them we may earn a small commission. That helps us fund This Is Money, and keep it free to use. We do not write articles to promote products. We do not allow any commercial relationship to affect our editorial independence.