Kazunori Yamauchi, founder and CEO of Polyphony Digital, producer of the Gran Turismo game series, posed a question to the car companies of the world: “Would you be willing to design your rendition of Gran Turismo for us?” Their answer? Vision Gran Turismo entries from 28 different car manufacturers, design houses (including one from Nike), which have made their way to players of Gran Turismo 6 via DLC (Downloadable Content).
The concepts submitted range from sci-fi to strangely practical, from plausible to impossible (with today’s technology, anyway). Some car makers designed only one Vision GT concept, others trios. And though most of the concepts only exist in the virtual world, some have been brought to life as full scale models, like N 2025 Vision GT. Bugatti responded by pushing the envelope (as usual), and made a fully functioning car complete with active aero and that signature W16 engine. Why? “It’s for our fans,” Bugatti Director of Design, Achim Anscheidt, told me at this year’s Frankfurt Auto Show. We talked daily drivers, the look of today’s top race cars and what’s possible for the next Bugatti road car.
That’s what we’re relating back to, the pinnacle Bugatti motorsport history.
Q. What can the Bugatti Vision GT tell us about what Bugatti has in the works?
A. So we only had two rules that we had to follow. First, come up with a teaser for things to come from Bugatti. And we’re only a couple of months away from showing the next Bugatti, publicly, officially. Second, illustrate the concept in a way that it can not be mistaken — like an intention to go racing. Then we created the car and its performance aspects. Some of the styling and design DNA, like on the rear end, is something you’ll see on the future production car — the cut-away rear end with a very horizontal accentuation of the tail light. Also, the massive center fin. And together with the center fin and the fins on the fender, is something we draw on a little from the past, if you remember the Bugatti Atlantic 57 SC. Then here on the side, is probably the most important element, the “Bugatti line.” It often gets mistaken for a purely aesthetic line. Yes, it was influenced by Bugatti’s signature. Yes, it was on the Bugatti Royale Type 41 — and it was very much a stylistic theme at the time. Here it becomes a performance theme. This line is all about air-intake performance. From the A-pillar down to the door sill, it is all air-intake. And the future Bugatti product will have those elements. And lastly, on either side of the iconic horseshoe grill, the eight-eye face. It’s what you’ll see when any future Bugatti is coming toward you or is in your rearview mirror.
Q. Bugatti has an immensely rich history of motorsport, was that a source of inspiration for the Vision GT?
A. For sure, in the ’20s and ’30s, Bugatti was the car to have. Ettore was a visionary in the way he sold his cars to wealthy privateers; it was unheard of in those days, but actually these privateers could buy a Bugatti Grand Prix car and be competitive. It’s what made the marque so successful. That’s what we’re relating back to, the pinnacle of Bugatti motorsport history.
Q. And how did you apply that to a modern car?
A. I mean, it’s good that we look back in order to look forward, which we always try to do. We try to find authenticity in our past and project it into our future developments. When we started to create this project, we made a decision with the Vision Gran Turismo project. You can go in the total fantasy or sci-fi direction, which is fun for the design department, or stick with reality and go towards performance aspects and everything that we did — all the detailing, all the performance functions on the car are completely laid out so that we could go racing in today’s world with this car.
My other car is a 1981 Porsche SE with a ’92 3.2-liter engine that I customized myself.
Q. The Bugatti Vision GT wouldn’t look out of place on the grid at next year’s running of Le Mans. What’s your take on the car design in top tier modern day racing?
A. Actually, I find the LMP1 cars, even technically, more interesting than the cars racing in Formula 1 at the moment. When I watch Le Mans, I feel so much more intrigued. F1 is kind of stale, but I’m still a big Formula 1 fan. I still watch qualifying, the race, but it’s a drama — I wish it would be more intense. Even a MotoGP race is more interesting.
Q. Does the plausible nature of the Bugatti Vision GT mean there’s a chance that Bugatti will return to some form of racing?
A. No. That’s not what this project is about. To participate in Vision Gran Turismo, you must show the performance side of your product, and for us, this was the most authentic way — the best possible illustration in terms of performance values and identity — and also telling details of our future design language and our next product.
Q. And is there a car in particular that has caught your eye here at the Frankfurt Auto Show?
A. Yes, the Porsche Concept I find very interesting.
Q. Of all the cars on the road today, which one would you say is the most beautiful, the most interesting?
A. Difficult question. It’s like a film director having to say what his favorite movie is of all time. Inside the [Volkswagen] group, not to be too cliché, a car like the Porsche Macan is really done well. I also know all the underpinnings and what it takes to make a car like that look good in such a hot segment. Outside the group, if I’m honest, even a bread-and-butter car like the current BMW 5 Series is a really well-done production car. It’s been on the road a couple of years already, but I have respect for those kinds of products — they pull off a really nice execution with really nice proportions.
Q. And what does the man who designs Bugattis drive?
A. A Volkswagen GTI…though my other car is a 1981 Porsche SE with a ’92 3.2-liter engine that I customized myself. It only weighs 800 kilograms (1,763 pounds), now. It’s my private passion. Not so much to do with Bugatti, but Porsche is part of the group, so it’s okay.