Calling Bugatti Bolide a mere car would be akin to calling the QE2 a boat. The differences between the aforementioned and their garden-variety counterparts are vast. However, for all its merits, is an automobile as extreme as the Bolide necessary? Before we answer that question let’s take a step back. The limited edition, track-only Bugatti Bolide that you see here could be the ultimate culmination of improbable numbers and eye-swivelling dynamics. It is likely the most extreme petrol-powered car on sale, and with a limited run of just 40 units mere plebs are unlikely to clap their eyes on one.
So what is the Bolide? In essence, it is the answer to a question no one outside of Bugatti is asking: What if Bugatti developed a radical, lightweight concept around its 8.0-litre W16 engine? Ergo Bolide.
Launched recently in production guise, the Bolide promises unprecedented performance, which shouldn’t be a bother given its dry weight of just 1,240 kg.
However, while the under-the-skin details are fascinating, the first thing that hits you with the ferocity of a sledgehammer is its audacious exterior styling. It’s a mellifluous cacophony of yawning grilles, gaping air vents, swooping curves and a smattering of styling flourishes punctuated by an immense rear spoiler. Every cosmetic detail is a giant fishing hook to the eyeballs that reels you in – there are a few cars as striking as the Bolide.
0-100km in 2.1s
In a time when most manufacturers are relying on hybrids or pure electric powertrains, Bugatti has stuck with its proven 8.0-litre W16 quad-turbo petrol engine developing 1,850 horsepower and 1,850 Nm of torque. As a result, the benchmark 0 to 100 km/h run is despatched in 2.1 seconds, 300 km/h comes in just 7.3 seconds, while the top speed of 500 km/h is demolished in 20.1 seconds.
The Bolide packs the running gear of the Chiron, but it’s been fettled to deliver dynamics unlike any other internal combustion production car. Power is still transmitted to all four wheels via a seven-speed double clutch gearbox, that’s been in service since the Veyron. The mechanical grip coupled with sophisticated aerodynamics, means the Bolide should corner with facial-feature altering alacrity.
All in all, the Bolide is unfeasibly rapid, exclusive and tantalisingly visceral however its biggest challenge isn’t any race track on the planet – it is the changing perceptions in the automotive world.
And that brings us to our initial question: In this age of austerity, environmental concerns and general aversion to excess, is a car like the Bolide necessary?
The simple answer is no. However, what cars like the Bugatti Bolide celebrate is the unbridled power of engineering. That said, these very excesses ring its death knell.
Given the proliferation of electric cars, the next generation of Bugatti hyper cars could well be bending laws of physics in complete and utter silence. If that does come to pass the Bolide might just turn out to be the last of its kind. A swansong for the extreme petrol-powered hyper car. A spectacular swansong, but a swansong nonetheless.