2003 Bertone Birusa

Bertone and BMW have been working together since 1960 when the car-maker from Munich commissioned the Turin designer to revamp the styling of the V-8 engined 502 saloon (in production since 1957), modifying the front, the wings and the rear end. In 1961, BMW commissioned Bertone to produce the 3200 CS, a top performance 4-seater coupé with a 3.2 litre V8 engine. In design terms, the car had a classic, smooth line and generous glazing. The 3200 CS debuted at the 1961 Frankfurt Motor Show, and remained in production until 1965 (597 were built). In 1966, Nuccio Bertone designed the E3, a styling study for a top of the market saloon.

  • 2003 Bertone Birusa
  • Year:
  • Engine:
    V8 32v DOHC
  • Transmission:
    Manual 6 Speed
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    400 @ 6600 RPM
  • Energy:
  • Displacement:
    301.5 CU IN | 4941 CC L
  • Layout:
  • car segment:
  • body style:
The sunroof 

The sunroof was designed and developed with Inalfa. It has two large sliding panels, which fold and disappear completely under the boot lid.

The laminated safety glass panels fill the interior with light, but they also filter UV rays. This system allows the roof to disappear altogether. In the fully open position, a specially designed automatic mechanism moves the guides and the roof panels, stowing them in the boot where they cannot be seen.

A special electronic control unit manages the entire operating sequence of the system components (panels, mechanisms, trim, motors, sensors, controls), while the roof opening and closing functions can be activated manually, vocally or by remote control.

Voice controls 

The Bertone Birusa is equipped with the Loquendo VoxDrive system which allows the driver, or anyone else recognized by the system, to control certain functions on the car using his voice, in order to create a sense of dialogue with the car. The system is multilingual and, thanks to its Speaker Verification techniques, commands will be accepted exclusively from someone recognized by the system.

Loquendo’s powerful voice technologies have been adapted and perfected to be incorporated in a prototype embedded system, so that it can be used on a car, with its complex acoustic background, meeting strict constraints of accuracy and speed of execution.

Voice control technologies do not only make it easier to use the car, they also let you communicate with the outside world; if they are connected to a mobile communications system, information and info-mobility services can be requested rapidly and easily, and they will be presented vocally to make driving simpler, safer and more entertaining. 

The stereo system

Continuing a four-year relationship with Bertone, the Bose Corporation has developed a customised sound system for the Bertone Birusa. The car’s elegant design challenged Bose to find a location for the audio components where they would intrude as little as possible into the passenger compartment. Neither the audio performance nor the vehicle cockpit could be compromised.

Two bass modules have been installed in small cavities under the front seats and Bose also outfitted the vehicle with 11 neodymium speakers that deliver a powerful, lifelike sound. Being lightweight and small, these speakers were particularly easy to position.

The Segway Human Transporter

The Segway Human Transporter (HT) is a transportation device designed to replace short distances car trips and has zero environmental impact.

Bertone approached Segway to develop a version of the Segway HT to be incorporated in the Bertone Birusa, transferring styling features from the car onto the Segway Human Transporter. This means that two means of transport merge seamlessly into one travelling solution. It is the first time that a Segway has been presented together with a vehicle, but more important still, it is the first time that one has been "dressed" by a coachbuilder, to match the car’s styling, covered with soft foam and upholstered in Alcantara like the car’s interior, specifically to make the car more road-friendly in pedestrian areas. The Segway is also fitted with lights, a navigation unit and display and a Bose stereo system.

LED light clusters and night-time vision system

The rear light clusters developed with Valeo adopt LED differentiated intensity lighting calibrated to the braking effort. This means that the greater the effort of the brake pedal, the more intense the illumination of the light cluster.

The night-time vision system (Active Infrared Night Vision) was also developed with Valeo and it guarantees the equivalent of conventional full-beam illumination but using dipped lights. In order to guarantee an improved view, an on-board camera captures the images and presents them on a cockpit display positioned on the steering wheel.

In practical terms, this system offers 200 metres of visibility, compared to 60-80 metres with conventional dipped beams.


The Bertone Birusa gives us an idea how a typical interpretation of the high performance GT car (front engine, rear drive, two seats) could evolve stylistically in the near future:. In structural terms, the Bertone Birusa borrows the aluminium chassis and engineering of the BMW Z8, with a 400 bhp V8 engine and 6-speed manual gearbox. This design choice is also reflected in the interpretation of certain design details that are typical of the BMW brand identity.


Socar ICS employed special technologies to indulge the creativity of its designers and engineers when it developed the complex glazing system on the Bertone Birusa.

The sunroof has a perfect profile, with no interruptions, thanks to the Water Jet method at 4000 atmospheres, a process that Socar is the only European company to use. The particular colouring was achieved by laminating the glass the new chromatic films by Solutia, a company that Socar ICS has been working with for many years in the field of innovative products.

Thanks to this treatment, the weight can be reduced (by as much as 10% compared to tempered glass), protection is stepped up in the event of a collision (the film absorbs the great part of the energy impact and strongly reduces the formation of splinters), and acoustic and thermal comfort are enhanced (better soundproofing and protection from solar radiation: the film filters 95% of all ultraviolet rays.

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