There we were waiting for someone to develop a rival for Ferrari’s incredibly desirable four-seater 612, when four turned up. Each has its attractions: Porsche’s Panamera has hit the streets first, Aston Martin’s Rapide looks like a regular Aston (following the example of the 612), Lambo’s Estoque concept looks the most like a jet fighter and now Bugatti’s 16 C Galibier Concept has arrived, with the distinction of being the most expensive, fastest and having the most striking and elegant interior.
The concept – which is likely to go on sale in 2013 – shares the Veyron’s W16 engine (if not quite such an intensive engine note), so expect around 800BHP, and record-breaking, 200MPH+ performance. As for why there is suddenly such an emphasis on four seaters (see also BMW’s 5 Series Gran Turismo and its X6) the answer is the emerging markets – one need only learn that there was a time when Chinese tycoons would wedge themselves into the tiny back seat of a 911 to be driven about by their chauffeur to understand the motivation of the manufacturers.
One question the Bugatti throws up, particularly now the company is under the same (VW) ownership as Porsche, is just how hard the boys from Stuttgart are kicking themselves over the shape of the Panamera. Essentially it’s the same shape as the Galibier, it’s just that one is largely successful, and the other is rather awkward.* The price, in case you want to start saving, is likely to be around £900,000.
*We were going to mention that the spine that runs the length of the bodywork is a reference to the classic Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic, but you’ve probably already spotted this.