Even if it has the most powerful and fast cars on the planet with lots of records, Bugatti has no plans to stop creating incredible cars.
With the technological concept of the Bugatti Bolide1, the French luxury car manufacturer is now providing the answer to the question what if Bugatti built a radically light vehicle around its iconic 8.0-litre W16 engine?
The experimental study of the Bugatti Bolide is a track-oriented hyper sports car featuring a W16 engine derived from series production as powertrain combined with a minimal body for maximum downforce.
The Bugatti Bolide is the most extreme, uncompromising, fastest and lightest vehicle concept in the company’s recent history – with an incredible weight-to-power ratio of 0.67 kg per PS. This is made possible by the combination of the W16 engine with 1,850 PS2 and a vehicle weight of just 1,240 kilograms3. The Bugatti Bolide achieves figures that are almost on par with Formula 1 while its top speed is well above 500 km/h – without compromising maximum handling and maximum agility. The Bolide takes 3:07.1 minutes to complete a lap of Le Mans and 5:23.1 minutes to get around the Nordschleife.
The 8.0-litre W16-cylinder engine with 1,850 PS and 1,850 newton-metres of torque is at its heart. Bugatti has designed the drive specifically for use on the racetrack and has optimised the engine and gearbox in particular for higher engine speeds. Among other things, this includes dethrottling the intake and exhaust system to achieve an even faster, more spontaneous, and extreme response characteristic.
In order to achieve a dry weight of 1,240 kilograms, all the stops have been pulled out with regard to the materials and production processes used, both in terms of what is currently feasible and what will be possible in the future.
All 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. However, they are still very stable with a tensile strength of 1,250 newtons per square millimetre.
Hybrid components, such as the 0.5-metre-long auxiliary drive shaft, combine wound high-strength and ultra-stiff carbon fibres with 3D-printed titanium end fittings and can withstand a continuous operating temperature of up to 260 degrees Celsius. In this example, this reduces the weight by around half to 1.5 kilograms and, due to the reduction of the rotating masses, increases the revving ability of the engine at the same time. The forces acting on the front and rear wings are transferred by ultralight but very solid titanium elements. They weigh a mere 600 grams at the front and an astounding 325 grams at the rear.
A worldwide innovation is 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. In addition, the flow onto the rear wing is optimised. At 320 km/h, the downforce is at 1,800 kilograms at the rear wing and 800 kilograms at the front wing.
As in Formula 1, the Bolide decelerates with racing brakes with ceramic discs and coatings. The brake callipers weigh only 2.4 kilograms each. The front forged magnesium rims with central lock weigh 7.4 kilograms, while the ones at the rear weigh 8.4 kilograms – with a very wide tyre size of 340 millimetres on the front axle and 400 millimetres on the rear axle (Chiron: 285 mm at the front and 355 mm at the rear). A compressed-air-driven jack system with four rams makes tyre changing easier, a quick refuelling system allows pressure refuelling.