Automotive

F1-grade Bugatti Bolide reaches 311+ mph with shape-shifting air scoop

F1-grade Bugatti Bolide reache...
The track-focused Bugatti Bolide
The track-focused Bugatti Bolide
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The Bugatti Bolide in the carbon and titanium
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The Bugatti Bolide in the carbon and titanium
"All of Bugatti’s expertise has been condensed into the Bugatti Bolide" - Stefan Ellrott, member of the Board of Management of Bugatti and Head of Technical Development
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"All of Bugatti’s expertise has been condensed into the Bugatti Bolide" - Stefan Ellrott, member of the Board of Management of Bugatti and Head of Technical Development
X-shaped styling reverberates through the Bolide's design, tying into its eXperimental status and the sound barrier-breaking Bell X-1 aircraft that Bugatti had in its mind during development
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X-shaped styling reverberates through the Bolide's design, tying into its eXperimental status and the sound barrier-breaking Bell X-1 aircraft that Bugatti had in its mind during development
Sketch of the Bugatti Bolide
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Sketch of the Bugatti Bolide
The Bolide rear-end fuses together a centralized quad exhaust, adjustable wing, diffuser and X-shaped bodywork and lighting
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The Bolide rear-end fuses together a centralized quad exhaust, adjustable wing, diffuser and X-shaped bodywork and lighting
There's no mistaking what car is in front of you
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There's no mistaking what car is in front of you
Bugatti optimized the weight and aerodynamics of the Bolide to truly unleash the potential of its 8.0-liter quad-turbo W16
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Bugatti optimized the weight and aerodynamics of the Bolide to truly unleash the potential of its 8.0-liter quad-turbo W16
Bugatti says it has not yet decided whether or not to build a production Bolide
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Bugatti says it has not yet decided whether or not to build a production Bolide
Though it's quite striking, the bodywork is less about visual affect and more about airflow
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Though it's quite striking, the bodywork is less about visual affect and more about airflow
After a quick teaser campaign, Bugatti reveals the Bolide
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After a quick teaser campaign, Bugatti reveals the Bolide
Bugatti carefully channels air to optimize performance
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Bugatti carefully channels air to optimize performance
The Bolide is designed to be both extraordinarily fast and highly nimble
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The Bolide is designed to be both extraordinarily fast and highly nimble
Bugatti Bolide
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Bugatti Bolide
The Bugatti Bolide is designed to exceed speeds of 500 km/h
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The Bugatti Bolide is designed to exceed speeds of 500 km/h
The Bugatti Bolide's W16 puts out 1,825 hp on 110 octane fuel and 1,600 hp on 98 octane fuel
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The Bugatti Bolide's W16 puts out 1,825 hp on 110 octane fuel and 1,600 hp on 98 octane fuel
The Bugatti Bolide answers the simple question, What if?
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The Bugatti Bolide answers the simple question, What if?
The track-focused Bugatti Bolide
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The track-focused Bugatti Bolide
The Bolide has race car-style upswinging half-doors
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The Bolide has race car-style upswinging half-doors
The driver's seat has a lower, more reclined position than the Chiron
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The driver's seat has a lower, more reclined position than the Chiron
Bugatti strips the Chiron down to the powertrain and rebuilds it as the Bolide
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Bugatti strips the Chiron down to the powertrain and rebuilds it as the Bolide
The morphing air scoop tops the Bolide off
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The morphing air scoop tops the Bolide off
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The most "extreme, uncompromising, fastest and lightest" vehicle concept in Bugatti's recent history – it's a description that refuses to be ignored, for anyone vaguely familiar with Bugatti's past work in putting out some of the world's most extreme, uncompromising and fast cars. Pushing itself ever further, the French marque presents the Bolide, an ultralight, track-focused hypercar parked at the bleeding edge of automotive possibility. An 1,825-hp quad-turbo W16 sits below its airy, shrink-wrapped bodywork, ready to push the Bolide to straightaway speeds "well above 500 km/h (311 mph)" while also leaving a trail of shattered track records in its wake.

Ever wonder what Bugatti's quad-turbo 8.0-liter W16 could do if decoupled from heavy, bulbous cars like the Veyron and Chiron? Bugatti might not phrase it quite like that, but it has definitely asked the question ... and answered with the Bolide. The car is built not only for top-end speed but also for razor-sharp handling around the track, ultra-quick acceleration and fast, reliable braking.

"We asked ourselves how we could realize 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," explains Bugatti president Stephan Winkelmann. "Driving the Bolide is like riding on a cannonball.”

A cannonball that can corner and maneuver like a Heisman-winning running back.

The Bugatti Bolide is designed to exceed speeds of 500 km/h
The Bugatti Bolide is designed to exceed speeds of 500 km/h

If it could have, Bugatti probably would have dropped the W16 and its quartet of turbochargers straight into the small, open-top Type 35 and immediately released the resulting torrent of speed and fury on the track. Instead, that legendary Bugatti and the more than 2,000 racing victories it took home between 1924 and 1930 served as the Bolide's spirit animal while Bugatti stripped the Chiron clean to the engine and rebuilt it from the chassis up as an F1-safety-reg-compliant track car.

There's only one logical place to begin looking at this particular car: the W16 powertrain. Bugatti engineers worked into the wee hours to modify the engine and gearbox for the higher rpms needed for race-grade track performance. Their work included de-throtting the intake and exhaust system to achieve more rapid, extreme engine response and reworking the quad turbos to build up extra boost pressure at higher engine speeds. They also managed to cut some weight in the process. Pump the Bolide's tank with 110 octane racing fuel, and the reborn W16 puts out up to 1,825 hp and 1,850 lb-ft (2,508 Nm) of torque.

Raw power is only half the weight-to-power equation, and when seats are considered a luxury, you know a car has some major weight-stripping at its heart. It starts with the F1-style monocoque, which Bugatti built up from the type of exceptionally stiff, strong carbon fibers usually reserved for aerospace engineering. A high-strength stainless steel rear frame is welded to the back and components are fastened snugly with titanium hardware.

Bugatti strips the Chiron down to the powertrain and rebuilds it as the Bolide
Bugatti strips the Chiron down to the powertrain and rebuilds it as the Bolide

Mechanical components also get put through the magical lightweighting machine. The auxiliary driveshaft is made from a titanium-carbon hybrid blend specced to withstand temperatures as high as 260 °C (500 °F). 3D-printed titanium features heavily throughout, including in the push-rods for the double-wishbone suspension. Ceramic disc racing brakes bring the racing-slick-wrapped center-lock magnesium wheels to stop, shedding heat with help from carbon-titanium turbofan radial compressors.

Much like an F1 car, the Bolide's look is defined as much by what's not there as what is. One thing lighter than carbon fiber skin is the air that's carefully directed around the monocoque via the intricate duct and scoop system. It starts up front with the flared nostrils and open-mouthed front-end underpinned by an adjustable splitter and doesn't quit until hot air escapes through the dramatic X-shaped rear-end with centralized quad exhaust.

There's no mistaking what car is in front of you
There's no mistaking what car is in front of you

The Bolide sits just under a meter (3.2 ft) high, nearly 30 cm (12 in) lower than the Chiron and of equal height to the Type 35. A highlight atop that low roof, the prominent air scoop has a morphing skin that remains smooth at slow speeds but pops out into a series of bubbles when the car pushes faster. The inflatable bubbles cut drag while optimizing airflow to the rear wing to prevent the light, four-wheeled sliver of carbon fiber and titanium from taking off into the air like the Bell X-1 supersonic aircraft that inspires the X shaping throughout. Bugatti says the car develops 800 kg (1,763 lb) of downforce at the front wing and 1,800 kg (3,968 lb) at the rear wing when traveling 320 km/h (199 mph).

The morphing air scoop tops the Bolide off
The morphing air scoop tops the Bolide off

Bugatti's efforts pay off in an estimated dry weight that's all the way down to 1,240 kg (2,733 lb), putting the Bolide in a completely different class versus the 1,995-kg (4,400-lb) Chiron that served as its base so many alterations before. That gives the Bolide a weight-to-power ratio of 0.68 kg/hp (1.5 lb/hp).

And from there, Bugatti's simulations run wild, bouncing from the 500+ km/h top speed (reached in just over 20 seconds), to the sub-2.2-second 0-100 km/h (62 mph), to the 24.64-second 0-400-0 km/h (249-mph) time, to the 5:23.1-minute Nurburgring lap time, which would be second only to the Porsche 919 Hybrid Evo's 5:19.55 run in 2018.

Of course, talk and simulations are cheap, and there's no guarantee the Bolide ever achieves those numbers on actual pavement. Bugatti hasn't even decided whether the car will make the trip from experimental prototype to production car. We're betting company phones have been blowing up with past and potential clients working to coax the project along the production path, though.

While performance numbers are still simulated estimates, the Bolide has spent some time on the track. You can watch some of that footage and get a closer look at the ins and outs of the cutting-edge design in the 13.5-minute clip below.

World Premiere: BUGATTI Bolide

Source: Bugatti

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7 comments
Nobody
Why would a nearly 3000 pound car need nearly 6000 pounds of aerodynamic down force at 199 mph? Unless they are planning on some 3g turns on a flat track, that seems like an unreasonable amount of stress. What down force would be needed at the much faster 311 mph? But then I read the words Bugatti's simulations and still they are second to the Porsche.
buzzclick
As a sculptor, this Bugatti design is way above what they've done before. It rocks.
WB
It's a technical symbol of ignorance... any EV super sports car runs circles around this car... in fact the latest SSC just got the world record which makes this thing obsolete. It's like the old ICE dinosaurs are doing the best to ignore the EV meteorite.
WB
...and how many leather trinket bracelets can one fit on the arms of a car company CEO.. this guy has'em all beat LOL seriously... wow.
WB
...why spend all this money when you get more acceleration out of a Model S Plaid... or roadster for that matter...
Daishi
Amazing car, I noticed a comment by the CEO at the end that this is a record year for them despite COVID which is interesting. Also @WB There are some credible people questioning the SSC run with hard data and the SSC run may possibly be fake.
yawood
It will need to be "well above 500 km/h (311 mph)" just to compete with the Tuatara which, according to your previous story, averaged an incredible 316.11 mph (508.73 km/h) on its official two-way run, hitting a mind-blowing 331.15 mph (532.93 km/h) on the return leg and forever cementing its place in automotive history.