Rethinking the aerodynamics of the Bugatti W16 Mistral
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Rethinking the aerodynamics of the Bugatti W16 Mistral
Rethinking the aerodynamics of Bugatti W16 Mistral roadsters: between art and craftsmanship
Creating a roadster that can reach 420 km/h, offering a unique experience and celebrating a legendary engine, represents one of the greatest technical feats in the automotive industry. Inspired by the spirit of adventure and the feeling of freedom so dear to Bugatti, the W16 Mistral has been designed with the greatest care, taking advantage of all the power of the wind to create a roadster that perfectly combines high speed , incomparable performance and unrivaled acoustics.
The development of the W16 Mistral¹ was largely influenced by the aerodynamic research undertaken by Bugatti. This adventure began with simulations in a digital environment, where the team was able to think in an avant-garde way about the circulation of air flows, then perfected during tests in real conditions. At such a high speed, only such careful testing can meet the performance levels demanded by Bugatti.
At the end of an extremely rigorous technical analysis based on advanced computational fluid dynamics (CFD) software, the W16 Mistral passed through the critical phase of the wind tunnel. The virtual development phase bore fruit: the aerodynamic bodywork meets expectations by offering a perfect balance between beauty and thermodynamics, demonstrating remarkable stability even at high speeds.
For Bugatti, the maximum speed that a roadster can reach, in this case more than 420 km/h for the Mistral, must not compromise the comfort and luxury offered by the interior cabin. Rather, these fundamental attributes must come together harmoniously to bring the ultimate roadster to life.
The Bugatti team met this challenge brilliantly, by developing a sophisticated design inspired by aeronautics, combined with an extremely advanced technical system. Its intelligent design diverts air away from occupants while ensuring that the iconic 16-cylinder engine breathes, providing a subtle ballet of airflow in real time at high speed.
This symphony of flow is orchestrated by the spoiler of the W16 Mistral, a central element which skilfully combines the art of aerodynamics and the science of aeroacoustics. Located on the upper line of the windshield of the W16 Mistral, the deflector directs the airflow away from the driver and passenger while ensuring that it reaches the rear wing and thus reinforces the downforce of the vehicle .
The interior of Bugatti’s ultimate roadster is thus transformed into a place where both driver and passenger feel decidedly visceral emotions, a setting revealing the unparalleled sound of Bugatti’s legendary W16 engine, a melody acclaimed by many customers. For a more peaceful experience, the interior of the W16 Mistral can also become a real soothing cocoon, thanks to its high-end audio system producing orchestral quality sound.
The famous horseshoe grille has also been redesigned with wider proportions, to supply air to the radiator and ensure its optimal cooling, taking into account the new design of the front part of the vehicle. Inside the air intake, the 3D printed mesh of the grille has been specifically designed to align with the direction of airflow and avoid losses.
Spectacular air intake vents, located behind the headrests, put Bugatti’s “Form Follows Performance” philosophy into practice by effectively cooling the W16 Mistral’s powerful engine. Air is drawn directly through filters and then channeled to the 8.0-liter 16-cylinder engine’s four turbochargers, a sophisticated arrangement that helps create optimal conditions for the powertrain.
With the intake vents positioned directly behind the passengers, the industry-leading W16 engine seems to roar louder than ever. When the driver takes their foot off the accelerator, the turbochargers release a characteristic sound that literally envelops the passengers. An aeroacoustic masterpiece that only owners of the W16 Mistral can experience, a true ode to the famous W16 engine, the beating heart of Bugattis. Although aesthetically very accomplished, these vents are nonetheless an essential safety element for the occupants of the vehicle. With their carbon fiber structure, they are designed to rigorous anti-rollover standards.
Located on the side panels of the roadster, intelligent air intakes nestled at the iconic Bugatti “C” line maximize the W16 Mistral’s already exceptional dynamic pressure levels. They simultaneously manage air and pressure to cool the oil in the engine, gearbox and rear axle. Hot air is efficiently exhausted from the vehicle through ducts leading to the taillight, where it is then sucked in by negative pressure. Operation similar to that of a fireplace
Inside the diffuser, a ramp-shaped configuration, inclined upwards, widened and optimized, further facilitates the evacuation of hot air and the overall downforce of the W16 Mistral, emphasizing its exceptional stability. The unique arrangement of the “X” light at the rear of the roadster perfects the aesthetic appearance of the new Bugatti model, and fulfills a vital role: ventilating the side oil coolers through carefully designed air intakes , ensuring precise management of the cooling circuit at mid-temperature.
Inspired and nourished by Bugatti’s rich heritage and know-how acquired throughout the last century in terms of building aerodynamic and high-performance vehicles, the development of the W16 Mistral fully lives up to the wind that gave it its name and resulted in the creation of the most aerodynamic Bugatti roadster to date.