Some of the world’s most extreme sports car designs have emerged from French automaker Bugatti, and now the company contemplates the development of a hypercar that would rocket to an entirely new level of capability. Appropriately named Bolide — which in French means racing car and in English meteor — this track-focused sports car would harness the savage power produced by Bugatti’s W16 engine in a lightweight package built with ultimate performance in mind.
“The question that we always keep in mind is: What if?” said President of Bugatti Stephan Winkelmann. “We asked ourselves how we could realise the mighty W16 engine as a technical symbol of the brand in its purest form — with solely four wheels, engine, gearbox, steering wheel and, as the only luxury, two seats. . . . These considerations resulted in the Bugatti Bolide,” noted Winkelmann.
The Bolide would be motivated by the 8.0-liter W16 engine from the automaker’s Chiron supercar, but with four new turbochargers designed to build boost and power at higher engine speeds. Engine output increases to an immense 1825 horsepower and 1365 lb-ft of torque. Engineers would optimize both engine and gearbox for extraordinary speed and outrageous performance on a racetrack.
Brakes and Tires
With extreme speed comes extreme responsibility, so the Bolide requires tires and a brake system equally as potent as the supercar’s raw power. Bugatti engineers designed Bolide to employ racing brakes, ceramic discs and coatings, with calipers that weigh slightly more than five pounds each. Forged magnesium wheels — both strong and lightweight — would be shod with wide Michelin racing slicks. A compressed-air system raises the entire vehicle up on four jacks for quick tire changes.
Not only does the Bolide make great gains in power, engineers put considerable time and effort into keeping weight to a minimum. All screws and fastening elements are titanium, and thin-walled functional components would be manufactured from an aerospace titanium alloy. Other components are made from a hybrid of 3-D printed titanium and high-strength ultra-stiff wound carbon fiber. If built, Bolide would weigh a mere 2,733 pounds creating an extremely favorable power-to-weight ratio.
One of the more innovative elements of Bolide involves the rooftop air scoop. The intake features a morphable outer skin that remains smooth at lower speeds yet expands upward to form the scoop as speeds increase, which reduces aerodynamic drag by 10 percent and lift by 17 percent.
“The Bolide is the ultimate answer to the question of what if Bugatti built a track-focused hyper sports car . . . [d]esigned around the W16 powertrain with the minimum body structure and unbelievable performance. The result: the smallest possible shell for a breathtaking performance vehicle that allows the W16 to truly come into its own,” explained Stefan Ellrott, board member and head of technical development at Bugatti.
Based on Bugatti simulations, the Bolide would accelerate to 62 mph (100 km/h) in just 2.17 seconds, taking just over seven seconds to reach 186 mph (300 km/h) with a top speed of more than 310 mph. These same simulations show the Bolide would complete a lap of the legendary Nurburgring Nordschleife in a record-breaking 5 minutes 23 seconds.
The Bolide’s overall height is 995 millimeters (about 40 inches) — considerably lower than the Chiron and exactly the same height as the legendary Bugatti Type 35. Access to the elegant but simple cockpit would be via doors that open at an angle to the front, similar to an LMP1 race car.
Still Looks like a Bugatti
Despite ultimate performance being Bolide’s reason for being, Director of Design at Bugatti Achim Anscheidt still needed the car to look like a Bugatti. “It is the very first time that my team had the freedom of creating an absolutely minimalistic design around the W16 engine. The result is the . . . distilled quintessence of our Bugatti design ethos that form follows performance,” enthused Anscheidt.
Blue and Carbon Fiber
The overall appearance of the Bolide is more reminiscent of a high-tech Formula One race car than a classic sports car, dominated by air ducts and lightweight construction requirements. The driver sits extremely low in a custom racing seat that allows the vehicle to assume the look of an “automotive low-flying aircraft,” as Bugatti calls it. Only 40 percent of exterior surfaces are painted; the rest is visible carbon fiber. Not surprisingly, the paint color is a modern take on historic French Racing Blue.
Ultimate Driving Experience
“For the first time, we are showing what the W16 engine is really capable of. We have freed the vehicle of all baggage and . . . combined the engine with the lightest possible chassis to create the ultimate Bugatti and to ensure the ultimate driving experience. With the Bolide, we are presenting our interpretation of a Bugatti track car of modern times to Bugatti enthusiasts all over the world,” effused Stephan Winkelmann.
Bugatti has not decided if the Bolide will go into production. If the automaker chooses to build this extraordinary machine, the entire run will likely sell out immediately — no matter what the price.