Development of the track-only Bugatti Bolide has reached a significant milestone. After finalizing the hypercar’s design and building the first prototypes, the French brand has started testing the model on an airstrip to fine-tune parameters like the amount of downforce it generates.
Power for the Bolide comes from an 8.0-liter W16 engine that’s quad-turbocharged to 1,578 horsepower — you know we’re talking serious power when the horsepower figure includes a comma. While this is the same basic engine that powers the Chiron, among other models, the major similarities between the two models stop there. Bugatti didn’t design the Bolide for street use so its engineers were unfettered by the regulations that shaped your daily driver. They focused on keeping weight as low as possible while designers created a race car-like body.
So far, the tests have confirmed what months of computer simulation predicted: the 3,200-pound Bolide can handle up to 2.5 Gs of lateral forces, meaning it can take a corner really, really, fast, and it generates up to three metric tons of downforce (that’s about 6,600 pounds) depending on the speed it’s traveling at. Bugatti explains the car’s front splitter helps achieve this downforce: air hitting the car gets compressed under the splitter and expands under the diffuser to create the suction that helps pin the Bolide to the pavement. There’s much more to it, and all of the aerodynamic add-ons are functional. The shape of the passenger compartment, which is narrow compared to the Chiron’s, was selected in part to maximize airflow to the side-mounted intercoolers. The door mirrors channel air to the intercoolers as well.
While the mirrors add drag, Bugatti explained that they make more sense than cameras because they give the driver a better idea of where they’re positioned compared to other cars. “Every technical consideration has been translated directly into an aesthetic design,” said Frank Heyl, the company’s deputy design director, in a statement. “Design and technology flow into one another in the Bolide,” he added.
Bugatti will continue testing the Bolide on race tracks around the world in the coming months, and it plans to begin delivering the car in 2024. If you’re not already on the waiting list, it’s too late: production is limited to 40 units and they’re all spoken for in spite of a base price pegged at €4 million (about $4.29 million at the current conversion rate). Alternatively, there’s a 905-piece Lego kit that’s not sold out and that only costs about $50 excluding tax. It doesn’t need to be tested on a race track, but we can’t guarantee it will provide three tons of downforce.
In addition to bringing the Bolide to production, Bugatti is busily developing the yet-unnamed model that will replace the Chiron. Details are vague, but Autoblog learned the model will use a plug-in hybrid powertrain and feature many new components, including the monocoque.