Ever wondered what a Chiron track project might look like? Wonder no more…
By Matt Bird / Wednesday, October 28, 2020
"Whether the Bugatti Bolide will go into series production, has not been decided yet." Though everything would point to the baddest of Bugattis being made fit for customers – the detail in the tech spec, the lovingly composed images, the desire to link this car with the Type 35 – the Bolide is not yet confirmed to be made. Please, Bugatti, you have to make it so; nothing from Molsheim has ever been so outrageous, and it deserves to exist if for no other reason.
The Bolide project serves to answer two questions, both linked. The first is what might happen if the infamous W16 was fully uncorked, the second being what would happen if Bugatti focused on lightweighting instead of world-beating luxury. The result, in pure numbers, is mind-bending: 1,850hp (on 110 octane fuel), 1,240kg, 0-124mph in 4.36 seconds, 0-248mph in 12 seconds, 0-310mph-0 in – get this – 33.6 seconds. Bugatti says that a Bolide could almost match that absurd Porsche 919 Evo Nordschleife lap, claiming a 5:23.1 time, and that it could complete the 8.5 miles of Le Mans in 3:07.1. It's an unheard-of level of performance for a car not from a race team.
With a Chiron already producing 1,500hp, the work that has gone into the 8.0-litre, quad-turbo W16 to make 1,850hp is less drastic than that needed to take hundreds of kilos out. But it's been treated to a quadrumvirate of new turbos with "optimised blades" for better boost pressure (and therefore power) at high revs, revised intake and exhaust systems for an "extreme response characteristic" and an entirely reworked dry sump system to keep that enormous engine lubricated for lap after record-breaking lap.
As for the lightweighting, Bugatti has been relentless in its pursuit of saving kilos. Need proof? Every single screw and fastening is titanium; aerospace titanium alloy not even 0.5mm thick has been 3D-printed for use wherever possible; the wheels are forged magnesium, and the fronts weigh just 7.4kg each despite being wide enough to sit on a 340mm Michelin slick. (The rears are 8.4kg each, on a 400mm wide tyre.) The Bolide's is an obsessive, unrelenting focus on saving weight and improving performance; a development of the carbon monocoque has a strength said to rival aerospace construction – 6,750 newtons per square millimetre. "We have freed the vehicle of all baggage", said Stephen Winkelmann.
And would you just look at it?! The Bolide is something that would look a little far-fetched and out there for a video game, leave alone a vehicle that may well be made (let's keep hoping) for customers. Design director Achim Anscheidt says of it: "The result is the most provocative proportion of a modern Bugatti ever and the distilled quintessence of our Bugatti design ethos that form follows performance."
Sat just 995mm tall (or fully 300mm lower than a Chiron), the Bolide looks closer to a prototype race car than something for public consumption; indeed that impression extends to doors that are front hinged and fold upwards, the drivers entering by sitting on the sill and swinging their feet in. As for the overall design, Bugatti suggests that the Bolide is redolent of the X-planes first made famous by Chuck Yeager, and the X motif is deployed throughout the car. It has the shape of "an uncompromising racing car and offers ultra-sporty, superlative performance – with no hint of luxury", say its makers. Overall downforce, thanks to the dramatic new aero features, is rated at 800kg on the front wing and 1,800kg on the rear at 200mph. Note the active roof scoop, too – it remains smooth at low speed but features "a field of bubbles" as the Bolide travels faster; it's said to contribute to a 17 per cent reduction in lift forces.
Having gone to this much effort, having made titanium wing mounts that weigh grams, 3D-printed a carbo-titanium driveshaft, fitted pushrod dampers with the oil reservoirs inside and kitted out the interior like a boutique LMP1 racer, Bugatti surely has designs on producing the Bolide. The project simply looks too far advanced to be abandoned as a one-off. And as a potential farewell to the combustion engined Bugatti, what could be more fitting than a track toy with the W16 unleashed?
We've all seen an appetite for circuit only hypercars in recent years as well as multi-million-pound Bugattis; doubtless the brand will be fielding phone calls from the usual suspects as you read this. Winkelmann has practically dared them to do so: "With the Bolide, we are presenting our interpretation of a Bugatti track car of modern times to Bugatti enthusiasts all over the world, and finally make their most fervent wishes come true". Mission accomplished.
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