Opinion: Why the new Bugatti Tourbillon is luxury at its best

    The Tourbillon epitomizes innovation and demonstrates Bugatti’s commitment to extreme exclusivity. Here’s what luxury brands can learn.
    Image: Bugatti
      Published   in Hard Luxury

    Ettore Bugatti, the Italian-born visionary whose company created some of the world’s most successful racing cars and automotive icons, left a legacy of elegance, performance, and engineering excellence. Importantly, he was relentless in his pursuit of the incomparable.

    At a recent Future of Luxury event in Los Angeles, which I had the pleasure of hosting and moderating, Sascha Doering, the CCO for Bugatti for the Americas, highlighted this ethos by citing Ettore Bugatti’s motto: “If comparable, it’s no longer Bugatti.”

    “If comparable, it’s no longer Bugatti.”

    When we spoke about brand storytelling, Doering mentioned an aspect I found particularly fascinating: when a story becomes a myth. Only four Type 57 SC Atlantics were ever made. Jean Bugatti retained one for his personal use, which he named “La Voiture Noire” (aka The Black Car). This exceptional car was notable for its deep black color and exceptional design.

    However, its fate became a subject of speculation and legend when it vanished during the onset of World War II. The car was reportedly loaded onto a train bound for a safer location to evade German forces, but it disappeared without a trace, leading to various theories about its whereabouts — in other words, a “myth” that creates desirability and extreme value.

    In 2019, Bugatti paid homage to this legendary car under the leadership of its former CEO Stephan Winkelman by unveiling a modern interpretation of La Voiture Noire as a one-off. Priced at approximately $18.7 million, it became one of the most expensive cars ever produced, showcasing the power of exceptional storytelling and an exceptional product.

    Bugatti created a one-of-a-kind homage to the long-lost 57 SC Atlantic. Image: Bugatti
    Bugatti created a one-of-a-kind homage to the long-lost 57 SC Atlantic. Image: Bugatti

    Create the incomparable#

    Bugatti’s relentless quest for perfection through innovation is evident in the new Bugatti Tourbillon, the direct successor to the legendary Chiron. In my view, the Tourbillon sets a new benchmark in the automotive and luxury industries. This hypercar embodies the art of creating timeless luxury.

    The Bugatti Tourbillon features a groundbreaking hybrid V16 engine, a first for Bugatti and clearly influenced by CEO Mate Rimac, a legend in creating electric hypercars. The Tourbillon represents a fusion of analog and digital. The 16-cylinder engine has been completely redesigned and is now naturally aspirated, ditching the turbos of its predecessor. It gets an additional punch from a tri-motor hybrid system, bringing the total output close to 1800 horsepower.

    The result is a new dimension in acceleration: the car can go from 0 to 100 km/h in 2 seconds, 200 km/h in less than 5 seconds, 300 km/h in under 10 seconds, and 400 km/h in under 25 seconds — putting it ahead of any automobile in history. The top speed is 445 km/h, a mind-boggling number for a car, even a hypercar. Calling this breathtaking is a gross understatement.

    The Tourbillon accelerates to 400 km/h in less than 25 seconds. Image: Bugatti
    The Tourbillon accelerates to 400 km/h in less than 25 seconds. Image: Bugatti

    With a starting price of around $4 million before any customization, this car is the pinnacle of exclusivity and performance. An incredible expression of creating the incomparable.

    Bugatti’s commitment to extreme exclusivity is expressed by limiting production to 250 cars, half the number of Chirons built. The Tourbillon is available only to existing Bugatti clients, making it even more difficult to acquire beyond the price point. This ensures that ownership remains a highly coveted status symbol.

    Furthermore, the Bugatti Sur Mesure program offers an unprecedented level of customization. Owners can personalize almost every aspect of their car, from exterior colors and interior finishes to unique design elements that reflect their personal stories and passions. This level of bespoke craftsmanship and personalization ensures that each Bugatti Tourbillon is a unique piece of art.

    My personal highlight is the instrument cluster, a tribute to horology. It is one of the most remarkable features of the Bugatti Tourbillon, paying homage to high watchmaking. Featuring mainly analog instruments, this cluster incorporates tactile and mechanical elements inspired by the precision of a tourbillon watch. The instrument cluster is always fully visible, independent of the steering wheel's position.

    The Tourbillon hypercar features an analog driver console inspired by Swiss watchmaking technology. Image: Bugatti
    The Tourbillon hypercar features an analog driver console inspired by Swiss watchmaking technology. Image: Bugatti

    Watching the dials and gears move is an art of its own and demonstrates that no corner was cut in creating something incomparable. No other car company has ever invested so much artistry in creating the instrumentation.

    The focus on analog instrumentation is a critical element that ensures the car will become a timeless icon. In contrast, modern cars with increasing electrification and digital interfaces often lose value quickly as their technology becomes outdated. This is a backlash that Porsche is facing from some clients regarding the fully digital instrument cluster of the new 911.

    Lessons for luxury#

    Bugatti’s approach to the Tourbillon offers valuable insights for other luxury brands, independent of their category.

    First, emphasize exclusivity. By restricting availability to existing clients and limiting production to only 250 units, Bugatti ensures that its cars remain highly desirable. This strategy enhances the brand’s allure.

    Second, focus on customization. The extensive personalization options offered through the Sur Mesure program allow Bugatti to cater to the unique tastes and preferences of its clients, deepening the emotional connection between the brand and its customers.

    Third, don’t cut corners. While many luxury brands are merely luxury in price, they often compromise on quality, materials, and storytelling. In contrast, the Tourbillon surprises its clients in almost all aspects, setting a new benchmark for authenticity in luxury.

    Fourth, blend tradition with innovation. The integration of traditional craftsmanship with modern technology, exemplified by the analog instrument cluster, creates a timeless appeal. This balance ensures that the car remains relevant and valuable over time.

    The Bugatti Tourbillon is a symbol of the brand’s relentless pursuit of creating the extraordinary. It represents a seamless fusion of the past and the future, combining the timeless elegance of classic Bugatti models with the latest technological advancements. It celebrates the finest traditions of watchmaking while pushing the boundaries of what is possible in automotive technology. Its execution, true to its brand story, will certainly create another myth that captivates clients.

    This is an opinion piece by Daniel Langer, CEO of Équité, recognized as one of the “Global Top Five Luxury Key Opinion Leaders to Watch.” He serves as an executive professor of luxury strategy and pricing at Pepperdine University in Malibu and as a professor of luxury at NYU, New York. Daniel has authored best-selling books on luxury management in English and Chinese, and is a respected global keynote speaker.

    Daniel conducts masterclasses on various luxury topics across the world. As a luxury expert featured on Bloomberg TV, Forbes, The Economist, and others; Daniel holds an MBA and a Ph.D. in luxury management, and has received education from Harvard Business School. Sign up for his masterclasses at the Jing Academy. Follow him: LinkedIn and Instagram.

    All opinions expressed in the column are his own and do not reflect the official position of Jing Daily.

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