TURIN - Volkswagen will show a Bugatti concept car at the Paris auto show, just three months after acquiring the Bugatti trademark.
The four-seat coupe, called EB118, is derived from a five-year-old Bugatti prototype that never went into production.
The EB118 is a running prototype powered by a W-18 engine. It was styled and built by Italdesign. It may eventually be produced.
Bugatti Automobili SpA, founded by Italian auto importer Romano Artioli in 1987, was declared bankrupt in 1995. The company's Italian assets were later auctioned by a Modena bankruptcy court. Artioli retained only the trademark, which VW bought for an undisclosed sum in June.
The EB118's engine is derived from the W-12 that was fitted in an Italdesign-styled VW coupe and roadster shown at major auto shows during the past year.
The W-18 combines three 6-cylinder engines. Total displacement is 6.3 liters. Output is rated at 555hp at 6,800rpm. Torque is 650Nm at 4,000rpm. The 315kg engine uses gasoline direct injection.
Officially, the Bugatti EB118 is a research project initiated by Italdesign. But sources say the project was subcontracted by VW to Italdesign and may eventually be produced.
When VW gives back the Rolls-Royce name to BMW in 2002, it could use Bugatti as its top luxury marque, above Bentley and Lamborghini.
The EB118 is a slightly smaller evolution of the Bugatti EB112 four-door sports sedan designed by Italdesign's Giorgetto Giugiaro. The EB112 was unveiled at the Geneva auto show in March 1993. It was powered by a normally aspirated, 6.0-liter V-12 engine. It was planned to be built by Italdesign in Turin at a rate of 300 units a year. But after several missed payments by Bugatti Automobili, Italdesign froze EB112 development in 1994.
In 1996, Automobili Lamborghini held talks with Bugatti about reviving the project, using its own 5.7-liter V-12. But nothing came of it.
The new EB118 is an evolution of the basic EB112 design, with a longer nose, a ventilation grille behind the front wheel and a more muscular rear fender. The back light is now housed in a single piece of glass, while the EB112 rear light was vertically divided by a thin metal bar, as on early Bugattis.
Despite similarities in styling and in the aluminum body panels, the two Giugiaro-designed Bugattis have different structures. The EB118 has an aluminum spaceframe, while the EB112 used a carbon fiber monocoque.
The EB118 is 5050mm long, 1990mm wide and 1420mm high. The EB112 was 5090mm long, and 1385mm high.