With Maybach folding up its tent after an uninspired campaign to unseat Rolls Royce at the top of the luxury sedan heap, only Bentley and Bugatti remain as potential challengers to the Phantom (Geely doesn’t count). Bentley has always had a slight inferiority complex when comparisons to Rollers come up, and though the new Mulsanne offers an alternative to the Phantom, it won’t replace it as the undisputed champion of four-door luxury. No, it seems as though the Volkswagen Group is trying to bracket BMW’s Phantom, with the Mulsanne nipping at its heels, and the Bugatti Galibier concept indicating what on might purchase in order to put all the Phantom owners in their place. It might not be as purely luxurious as the Rolls, but the Bugatti name, the 800 HP and the Galibier’s dramatically opulent looks have the potential to yield an icon capable of unsettling the high-end, four-door order of things. But will it be built? According to Autocar‘s Bugatti sources:
It will be made one way or the other.. We’re the smallest VW Group member and there’s a recession on so we’ve not been a priority. But we can expect to announce something by the summer; it looks good, people like it and it wouldn’t be a great financial commitment in the context of the Group.
But evo Magazine’s Harry Metcalfe says it ain’t so. The Galibier, he says, is over, and with it Bugatti’s ambition to build the world’s most powerful and expensive four-door.
According to Metcalfe, who is known to have friends inside Bugatti (apparently owning 14 cars and an $11k annual insurance premium helps with this), the Galibier was well-received in in the US and Middle East, but potential European customers found it “rather too upright and unremarkable.” As a result, Metcalfe reports that Bugatti is ditching the four-door design for a coupe, which, he argues, would make a better Veyron replacement anyway.
The confusing part? Metcalfe writes in the April issue of evo
Bugatti has gone back to the drawing board and decided to create an exciting, all-black, coupe version of the Galibier, which is being given its world premiere at an invitation-only presentation on the eve of the Geneva show.
Sure enough, pictures of an all-black Bugatti were released at Geneva, but they’re of the four-door Galibier. Huh? With Autocar and evo telling different stories, it’s hard to know what’s actually happening at Bugatti. Perhaps they realized that a sporting Rolls alternative (in the Mulsanne) and a hyper-sporting Rolls-beater in the Galibier was a bridge too far. In either case, and at least for now, the Phantom seems safe in its place as the most status-bestowing four-door on the market.