You’ll know when you see it.
Image: Bugatti

Crossovers and SUVs, over the past few years, have been the food coloring of the car industry. What starts as a few drops here or there in a giant bowl of white icing quickly spreads into a pale swirl, until, suddenly, that last bit of color gets mixed in and the whole thing turns a vibrant shade of whatever—in this case, bulky vehicles. That food coloring is reaching its veins into Bugatti right now, trying, terribly, to make it a crossover convert.

The thing that seems to be halting the process is the fact that there’s “no budget and no decision” for it on Bugatti’s end.

That’s according to a recent Automobile Q&A with company president Stephan Winkelmann, in which he basically said the idea of a Bugatti crossover is more than just an idea now. Its design has been shown around, he told Automobile:

Where are you with regard to the three-door, ultra-premium crossover SUV which may become Bugatti´s second product?

SW: The design is done. Some potential customers have seen it, and they liked it. One or two influential people up in Wolfsburg were complimentary about it. But at this point there is no budget and no decision.

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When asked why a crossover instead of an all-electric hypercar or something, Winkelmann alluded to the fact that crossovers are the thing right now.

From the Automobile Q&A:

SW: Because crossovers are in strong demand. 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. Having said that, the more generously packaged CUV would almost certainly be battery-powered. With the Galibier concept, Bugatti has in 2011 demonstrated that a superluxury sedan is compatible with our portfolio. But time has moved on, and I’m skeptical that a sedan can generate enough volume in today’s commercial environment. After all, we’re not talking 100 cars a year here, but 600 to 800.

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If the crossover talk seems weird, that’s because it is. Bugatti said as recently as January in an official press release, unprompted aside from speculation, that it wouldn’t be building an SUV.

Here was the exact wording, for reference:

Although speculation is rife and the time appears to be appropriate, “there will be no SUV from Bugatti”, says Stephan Winkelmann.

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Our original quote of the release, written the day after it published, included a second sentence: “He adds that an SUV would not do justice to the brand or its history.” That sentence doesn’t appear to be the release now, for some reason.

But we didn’t believe it at the time, because every brand says it’s not going to do something that would be seen as a lame cash grab—until it does. Ask Ferrari, or Aston Martin, or anybody else. The anti-SUV camps are now making SUVs, because SUVs make money—money that could, perhaps, help fund the more fun cars. Or maybe it’ll just convince everyone to make more SUVs. Who knows.

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The difference in the Automobile Q&A, though, is that Winkelmann never uses the term “SUV” specifically. He uses “crossover” and “CUV” interchangeably, but never “SUV.” Crossovers and SUVs are becoming more and more of a blurred category as they flood the market, but it seems like Bugatti is deliberately trying to stick with one type of branding here: a crossover, not its far larger sibling.

Jalopnik asked a Bugatti representative about that interpretation of the Q&A and they declined to comment, but any other reading of it would mean the company has had a real change in philosophy since six months ago, when Winkelmann so adamantly rejected the idea of a Bugatti SUV. We’ll just have to see the answer when, or if, Bugatti decides to move forward with it.

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But you know how food coloring is. It spreads quickly, and no bit of icing is ever truly safe.