‘There will be no new 16-cylinder, this will be the last of its kind.’

The quad-turbocharged 1103kW W16 engine powering the Bugatti Chiron, and now also the Divo, will likely be regarded as the pinnacle of internal combustion outputs by future generations. It will also be the last of its kind.

Power outputs for the monster mill have grown steadily since it was introduced in the Veyron 13 years ago, and may well expand further, but Bugatti CEO Stephan Winkelmann has confirmed it won’t be replaced once its time is up.

“Sooner or later the legislation will force everybody to take radical steps,” he told CarAdvice when we interviewed him in California last week.

“There will be no new 16-cylinder, this will be the last of its kind. It is an incredible engine and we know there is huge enthusiasm for it, everybody would like to have it forever, to continue to develop it – we will do our utmost to keep it alive… but if you want to be on the edge with advanced technology it’s important you choose the right moment to change.”

Winkelmann acknowledged that, as with the lesser parts of the car industry, some form of electrification will ultimately be forced on Bugatti, but insists any new technology will need to offer an equivalent level of performance to that delivered by the W16.

“If the weight of the batteries is going down dramatically – as it is – and you can reduce the emissions to a level which is acceptable then hybridisation is a good thing,” he said, “but it has to be a solution that is credible for the people who are buying Bugattis today.”

But Winkelmann also dropped some hints the W16 is likely to get even brawnier before heading off to Valhalla.

“When I was at Lamborghini I always said power to weight ratio is the key, we always reckoned that one kilo less is more important than one horsepower more,” he said.

“But we also discovered there is a race for more power, an ongoing battle, and everybody is looking for more and more.

“We are far out at Bugatti, far from being compared, but I think it still matters to many people… I think that the race for more power is not over, unfortunately in my opinion, because we could do different things.”