Wishful thinking can be a fun distraction, but when you’re Bugatti and have a spare moment – and a virtual 8.0-liter W16 engine to play with – the results can be dramatic. Witness as excellent example the Bugatti Bolide, a what-if hyper sports car that addresses the question of “what if we made a ridiculously powerful, radically lightweight performance car?”
The “ridiculously powerful” part is already on-record, of course. Bugatti’s 8.0-liter engine is a thing of mechanical beauty, finding its place in the Chiron and various iterations of that hypercar and helping them set records for speed in a straight line and around the corners.
None have been particularly light, however, a side-effect of Bugatti – and its buyers – being unwilling to give up on a luxurious cabin and the ability to comfortably cruise as much as do rocket-ship-pace acceleration. The Bolide upends that, currently a “technological concept” though one which Bugatti is still weighing production potential for, doing away with as much heft as possible.
The result is a car that weighs 1,240 kilograms, or 2,737 pounds, while still mustering 1,825 horsepower and 1,364 lb-ft of torque. The “only luxury,” according to Bugatti president Stephan Winkelmann, is two seats inside. The rest is as minimal as possible to reduce what’s on the scales.
With the requirement that whatever was created must meet FIA safety requirements, the engineers and designers went back to basics. Four new turbochargers get reworked blades, for more boost pressure and power at higher engine speeds. The oil system and dry sump lubrication system have been redesigned, and the water-to-air intercooling system replaced by air-to-air with a water precooling approach.
The intake and exhaust system have been dethrottled, which Bugatti says makes for faster and more spontaneous response. Weight was the biggest foe, however, and there even tiny gains were chased. Every screw and fastening is switched to titanium, with an aerospace titanium alloy for 3D printed thin-wall components. Bugatti combined wound carbon fibers with 3D printed titanium end-fittings for the auxiliary drive shaft, for a roundly 50-percent cut in weight.
Racing brakes get ceramic discs and coatings, with calipers each under 5.3 pounds, while all four forged magnesium rims tip the scales at less than 70 pounds. A compressed-air-driven jack system allows the Bolide to swiftly rise up so the central-lock wheels can be replaced, race-style, and there’s a quick refueling system too.
On the top, a morphable outer skin for the intake scoop allows the dynamics to change depending on vehicle speed. Drive the Bolide slowly, and the skin is smooth; at faster speeds, bubbles emerge to cut drag by 10-percent and lift by 17-percent. At 198 mph, Bugatti says, you can expect almost 4,000 pounds of downforce at the rear wing, and over 1,700 pounds at the front wing.
The carbon monocoque – with an integral front end – has a lower, leaner body around it than other recent Bugatti. The windshield is truncated, making the Bolide almost a foot flatter than the Chiron. The doors hinge up, allowing access to a pared-back cabin with polycarbonate windows, a motorsport display, and adjustable pedals and passenger foot rest. Bugatti has painted only around 40-percent of the car, leaving the rest exposed carbon fiber.
As for the result of all that dieting, you’ll be unsurprised to hear that the Bolide is a fast car. Bugatti only has simulated performance, but says 0-60 mph could take just 2.17 seconds, while 0-124 mph would be a mere 4.36 seconds. Top speed is “well above” 310 mph the automaker says, with 0-310 mph taking 20.16 seconds if you had sufficient straight line to test that.
In all, Bugatti estimates, the Bolide could do a lap of Le Mans in 3:07.1 minutes, or the full Nordschleife in 5:23.1 minutes.
The big question is whether the Bolide-in-theory will ever become a Bolide-in-production. That, Bugatti says, still hasn’t been decided, but if the response to the track-only hypercar from deep-pocketed owners is sufficiently glowing, that could prove to be ample motivation for a limited run of cars.