We now know what Bugatti was up to with that mysterious prototype papped in France recently. The answer is the Bolide, a brilliantly outrageous, track-only hypercar that’s quite unlike anything the VW Group subsidiary has ever built.
From 2016 on, everything from Bugatti has been a derivation of the Chiron. But the Bolide lobs most of that hypercar in the bin, keeping the engine, gearbox and precious little else. And even that isn’t quite the same - here, the quad-turbo W16 produces 1825bhp (1850PS) and 1364lb ft of torque.
It doesn’t have to push along some circa-two-tonne Goliath, either - the Bolide weighs just 1240kg. It has an entirely new carbon fibre monocoque, radically altered suspension in a motorsport-style pushrod configuration, and Michelin Slick tyres measuring a whopping 400mm wide at the rear and 340mm at the front.
Standing at 995mm tall (about 150mm lower than a Chiron), it’s said to have “the low-slung shape of an automotive low-flying aircraft”. Keeping with the plane theme, Bugatti is keen to point out the unusual X signature of the rear end is reminiscent the Bell X-1 Chuck Yaeger used to break the sound barrier in 1947.
This is just a coincidence, though, with the Bolide’s wild rear end shaped by aero considerations. There are vast air channels that slice through the car, leading to a huge rear wing and diffuser combo. At around 200mph, 1800kg of downforce is generated at the rear, with 800kg acting on the front.
High power, high downforce and low weight make for astonishing performance. Based on simulations, Bugatti says the Bolide is good for a 3:07.1 lap of the La Sarthe circuit used for Le Mans, while a trip around the Nurburgring Nordschleife is theoretically possible in 5:23.1.
That’s around seven seconds faster than the Le Mans lap record, and as for the ‘Ring, it’d be just a few seconds off the staggering lap laid down by the Porsche 919 Evo. Since Bugatti does have a working prototype of the Bolide, we’re dearly hoping the hypercar builder has a pop at making at least one of those a reality.
Bugatti isn’t so interested in top speed records any more, although the company has noted that the car’s top speed is “well above” 311mph. Again, theoretically.
It’s as this point you’re probably expecting us to tell you how many of these are going to be made, and reveal a multi-million-pound price tag. We can’t, though, as it’s “not been decided yet” if the Bolide will go into production. What a tease.