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Bugatti has already designed and shown an SUV, awaits green light

13 August 2019 - Autoblog

Bugatti has already designed and shown an SUV, awaits green light

Boldly goes where it said it wouldn't, and with a Chiron convertible, too

Bugatti appears to be backing itself right into the quilted leather seats of a crossover the brand swore would never happen. In January, CEO Stephan Winkelmann announced to the world, "There will be no SUV from Bugatti." By April, reports said Bugatti was working on a "crossover-influenced sports car," which is gobbledygook meant to avoid calling an SUV an SUV. Winkelmann also admitted then that as far as what kind of vehicle to build as a second Bugatti, "It's not me to decide." At the beginning of this month, Automobile magazine's intel claimed Bugatti was considering an all-electric SUV using a Rimac platform, limited to around 600 units per year and selling for between $850,000 and $1 million. Closing the circle, when Automobile's man recently sat down with Winkelmann, the CEO said this in response to a question about a "three-door, ultra-premium crossover SUV:" "The design is done. Some potential customers have seen it, and they liked it."

The Italo-German head honcho then seemed to back Automobile's previous reportage, saying that a potential crossover "would almost certainly be battery-powered," and that he envisioned sales volumes between 600 and 800 per year. When "one or two influential people" from the Volkswagen Group mother ship stopped by to check out the design, they "were complimentary about it." Since overlords haven't signed off on any such vehicle, "there is no budget and no decision." But this is like when a dog owner puts on his jacket, shorts, and gym shoes, grabs the leash, then tortures the dog with the pretense that they aren't going for a walk. So don't be surprised if [when] Bugatti reveals a crossover.

One truly surprising quote from the boss was when he said, "So far, nobody is doing a high-performance, high-end luxury CUV. Because of the battery situation, it's too early for an electric hypercar." To the former claim, that's a wheelbarrow full of dirt thrown on the Bentley Bentayga Speed, as well as the Lamborghini Urus that Winkelmann shepherded to production. As for the latter, Rimac and Pininfarina would likely, respectfully, disagree.

Another potential walk-back is an open-topped version of the Chiron. When Motor Trend asked Winkelmann last December if the carmaker planned a Chiron Grand Sport, the exec replied, "We decided in the Chiron project not to do an open-top version." And now? Seems so many owners have pestered the boss about a Grand Sport version that it is at least a possibility, but one that — strangely — requires some re-engineering. We find it odd that a Chiron Grand Sport wasn't in the plan from day dot. However, "if the roof must come off," Winkelmann said, "this can only be done properly with a reengineered and much stiffer monocoque. So let's wait and see."

As if that weren't enough, remember the top-speed run that wasn't a priority? Well, it's "still a possibility." Check out the Automobile piece for more on where — and how fast — the ultra-luxury brand might go with its current car and any addition to the lineup.

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