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 Bolide features an incredible weight-to-power ratio of 0.67 kg per PS, made possible by the combination of the W16 engine with 1,850 PS and a vehicle weight of just 1,240 kilograms.
The selection of materials and production processes used with the Bolide represent a bold step forward for what is currently feasible and what will be possible in the future in hyper sports car design. 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. The dramatic effect of the overall proportions is made clear with an overall height of only 995 millimetres – the same as an historic Bugatti Type 35.
As a binding force behind one of the most ambitious experiments of Bugatti, designer Nils Sajonz was an integral part to the creation of the French luxury brand’s newest hyper sports car.
Already instrumental in the design of a number of limited-run models before working in the team that shaped the Bugatti Bolide, Sajonz helped bring to life phenomenal flagship models such as the Divo, revealed in 2018, the one-off La Voiture Noire, in March 2019 and the Centodieci, in August of the same year. It is the hard work, maturity and tenacity that Sajonz gave to the design of the Bolide, while working in a team of five, that rewarded him with the recent promotion to Head of Special Projects at Bugatti Design.
On the groundbreaking design of the Bolide, Sajonz added: “Many of the design features of the Bolide are as important as a central style point as much as they are functional. The appearance of the Bugatti Bolide invokes the so-called X-planes of aviation history and shows a clear X signature from every perspective. This also heralds back to Bugatti’s track-bred heritage, with the X signature present on the front of the Bolide representing the taped ‘X’ that historic racing cars would use to cover headlights, preventing the spread of glass in the event of an accident. But these themes are consistent and contribute towards the overall dynamics and performance of the Bolide, which is unrivalled.”
The Bugatti team developed a light monocoque made of carbon around the drive. The integral front end joined to it is also made of high-strength carbon fibres, as are the fully aerodynamically effective underbody and the monocoque itself.
The single-fibre tensile strength of the fibres used is 6,750 newtons per square millimetre, the single-fibre stiffness is 350,000 newtons per square millimetre. These represent figures that are only reached in the aerospace industry.
Instead of water-to-air intercooling, the Bugatti Bolide has air-to-air intercooling with water pre-cooling for optimal performance on the racetrack. The two water coolers, which are arranged in front of the front axle, provide a more effective radiator system in terms of flow than is customary even in Formula 1. Newly developed and hybrid carbon titanium turbofan radial compressors ventilate and cool the high-performance ceramic racing brake system.
As the most extreme vehicle concept in the French luxury brand’s recent history, the design journey of the Bugatti Bolide – aligned with the company’s core values of excellence, courage, dedication – is an inspiration in its own right.