This simple innovation reduces the hypercar's aerodynamic drag significantly.
The Bugatti Bolide debuted back in October as the company's fastest, lightest, and most extreme track-weapon. Hopefully, some of the Bolide's engineering innovations will be applied to future production cars. One of these innovations is what Bugatti is calling a Dimple Airscoop. Since the start of 2020, young engineer Nils Ballerstein has been preparing a doctoral thesis project to develop a special morphable outer skin for Bugatti's New Technologies department, which was used for the first time in the Bolide.
Ballerstein first came up with a simple idea in 2019 during his master's degree thesis. He discovered Bugatti's new 3D-printed brake calipers made of titanium that cooled as water flowed through it. To improve the heat transfer and disperse heat more selectively, he added a dimple pattern inside the channels. This simple solution mixed the fluid in the channels more effectively and reduced the temperature of the brake calipers. Impressed with the result, he then wondered if the same effect can be achieved with airflow.
Bugatti likens this unique aerodynamic design to a golf ball, where dimples on the surface minimize air drag enabling the ball to travel twice as far with the same impact force compared to an identical golf ball with no dimples. After completing his master's thesis, he stayed at Bugatti to apply his idea to the Bolide.
In a world-first, the intake scoop features a morphable outer skin to optimize the active airflow. When the car is driven at slow speeds, the surface stays smooth, but at high speed a series of 60 dimples bulge out and extend variably by up to 0.3 inches. At speeds above 74 mph, the dimples effectively reduce air resistance, improving the car's aerodynamics. Like the active rear wing on the Veyron and Chiron, they can also extend and retract within tenths of a second to respond to changes in speed.
Bugatti claims this simple design innovation reduces the scoop's aerodynamic drag by 10 percent and reduces lift by 17 percent, while also optimizing airflow to the rear wing. At 198 mph, the rear wing produces 3,968 pounds of downforce, while the front wing produces 1,763 pounds. As well as reducing drag, the dimples also improve the car's fuel efficiency.
Thanks to its advanced aero and uprated 8.0-liter quad-turbo W16 producing 1,824 hp and 1,364 lb-ft of torque, the Bolide is capable of accelerating from 0-62 mph in 2.17 seconds and hit a top speed of over 310 mph in simulated tests. With this level of performance, the Bolide can lap Le Mans in 3:07.1 minutes and thrash the Nurburgring Nordschleife in 5:23.1 minutes. For now, the Bolide is a one-off concept, but you can take it for a virtual spin in the mobile game CSR Racing 2.