MOLSHEIM, FRANCE - Bugatti chose just three words to introduce us to its most extreme track car ever: reduced, raw and authentic.
With a dry weight of just 1240kg and a power output of 1360kW, the track-only Bolide concept car has an astounding power to weight ratio, and Bugatti’s President Stephan Winkelmann equates this car’s driving experience to riding on a cannonball.
Bugatti says the car achieves figures that are almost on par with an F1 car, with a top speed of “well above” 500km/h, and this has been achieved without compromising handling and agility.
The inspiration for this car came from the simple phrase “what if” as Winkelmann explains:
"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.”
While its powertrain is based around Bugatti’s familiar 8-litre quad-turbo W16 engine, Bugatti has optimised it for higher engine speeds, and also redesigned the four turbos and thoroughly overhauled the engine’s cooling and lubrication systems.
But power is only half the equation here. Bugatti says it pulled out all the stops, with regard to materials and production processes, in order to achieve a dry weight of 1240kg. Even the screw and fastening elements of the Bolide are made completely out of titanium. In addition, hollow, thin-walled functional components made of an aerospace titanium alloy are used in many places. These originate from a 3D printer and are extremely thin with wall thicknesses of up to 0.5 millimetres.
Bugatti is also particularly proud of the morphable outer skin of the intake scoop on the roof, which provides active airflow optimisation. If the vehicle is driven at a slow speed, the surface of the scoop remains smooth. In contrast, a field of bubbles bulges out when driven at fast speeds. This reduces the aerodynamic drag of the scoop by 10 percent and ensures a 17 percent reduction in lift forces.
"The Bolide is the ultimate answer to the question of what if Bugatti built a track-focused hyper sports car that met the FIA's safety requirements,” said Bugatti’s head of technical development Stefan Ellrott.
“Designed around the W16 powertrain with the minimum body structure and unbelievable performance data. The result: the smallest possible shell for a breathtaking performance vehicle that allows the W16 to truly come into its own.
“All of Bugatti's expertise has been condensed into the Bugatti Bolide. It is therefore an innovative information source for future technologies. The Bolide is thus more than just an intellectual exercise.”
But before you open that bottomless virtual chequebook, keep in mind that Bugatti has not decided whether or not to produce this insane hypercar for the track. Although given the effort that’s gone into this design study, we’d imagine it’s more likely to happen than not.