Look at the faces. So good.
Screenshot: Carfection

The Bugatti Chiron is an absolute engineering marvel, and its W16 is as well, with a twin-to-quad turbo setup that makes 1,500 horsepower while not weighing any more than its predecessor in the 1000-horsepower Veyron. But how much does that engine weigh, exactly? A ton. Well, almost.

The boost in power but not weight came up in this recent Carfection walkaround video of the engine and other details of the Chiron. Bugatti’s Andy Wallace pointed out that the Chiron’s engine makes significantly more power than the Veyron but doesn’t weigh more than it.

This is with, remember, significantly larger turbos and, presumably, beefier components all through the rest of the engine to better withstand all that power. Wallace points out an all-composite intake manifold, just about lost in the maze of tubes and hoses running around everything.

See that intake manifold? No. It’s in there. Deep in there.
Photo: Bugatti

What Wallace didn’t say is how much that weight is exactly, so I reached out to Bugatti.

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Engine: 961 pounds (436 kg)

Transmission: 273 pounds (124 kg)

As such, that’s a combined weight of 1,234 pounds (560 kg), or about as much as a current mid-level Caterham. That is, the entire Caterham altogether.

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To give a bit more perspective, I looked up how much a Chevy LS9 weighs. That’s a powerful engine, certainly powerful enough for anybody, with a strong 638 HP for its supercharged eight cylinders. Even with clutch, flywheel and waterpump it only comes in at 531 pounds, should you order one from Summit.

Put in other perspective, the Chiron’s engine weighs about as much as:

  • One dugong
  • A LaFerrari cut in half
  • A Piper Cub at maximum takeoff weight
  • 1,234 pounds of ball bearings hurtling down a flight of stairs, unrestricted, barreling towards you, oh god, run, run you fool, you still have time, good god who let out all of these ball bearings, this was such a grave and inexplicable error

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The thing about the engine weighing as much as it does is that it’s not explicitly designed to be the most power from the least weight. It’s designed to be a reliable and durable source of that much power. Even though it’s quad turbocharged, it doesn’t make even a hundred horsepower per cylinder, as Wallace points out. The idea is to keep everything sturdy enough to last.

It all fits in with the kind of engineering dominance of modern Bugatti, cars so overbuilt that they bludgeon obsolescence into submission.