The Koenigsegg CC850 has a fake manual gearbox and 1385 HP

How quickly has the performance world turned in 20 years?

When Christian von Koenigsegg built his first Swedish missile in 2002, the Koenigsegg CC8S set a Guinness World Record for the most powerful production engine with a then-stunning 655 horsepower.

To celebrate 20 years of making some of the fastest show cars in history, and his 50th birthday in July, Koenigsegg chose Pebble Beach to stage a recall of approx. $3 million: The CC850 generates 1,385 ethanol-assisted horsepower from a twin-turboliter, 5.0-liter. V-8, more than twice as powerful as his first-born hypercar. The company’s CEO and founder recalls a British magazine review of this CC8S.

koenig egg cc850

Koenigsegg

“It said, ‘This is crazy, 655 horsepower is way too much!’ And today we have E-Class AMGs or BMW 5 Series with that kind of power,” von Koenigsegg said in a video interview this week.

“But that CC8S put us on the map and was the foundation of what we do today.”

The CC850, he said, “is a tribute to what is the most meaningful car in Koenigsegg’s history.”

koenig egg cc850

Koenigsegg

Those analog underpinnings included a gated six-speed manual transmission, the slinky pleasures of which I experienced in the only Koenigsegg I’ve driven: A $1.05 million-only, 245-mph CCX borrowed from a Long Island dealer in 2008. ( With wide-eyed dealers riding shotgun, I redlined in third gear on Route 9W overlooking the Hudson River…at 128 mph). The new CC850 looks to deliver the returning thrills with a technical twist never before seen on a production car. This insanely complex transmission is designed to look and feel like a traditional six-speed manual transmission. There’s a bona fide clutch pedal and a spectacular-looking gated shifter – slim bar, exposed mechanicals, barrel-shaped knob – that’s topped with a Swedish flag, like on the CC8S. But the mechanical interface masks the wizard behind the curtain: the company’s Lightspeed Transmission, an engineering marvel with nine speeds, seven clutches and shifts in as little as two milliseconds.

koenigsegg engage system fake manual shifter lightspeed transmission

Koenigsegg

What the company calls the “Engage Shift System” can be driven as an adaptive, clutch manual with six forward gears – and two sets of driver-selectable gear ratios for road or track. Or switch to smooth 9-speed automatic operation and either relax or hang on. The company says it’s the world’s first manual that can adapt gear ratios to different driving situations. The clutch pedal integrates hydraulic force feedback for natural feel, but shifts entirely by wire. Ditto the mechanical gear clutch inspired by Swiss chronographs whose commands are translated through the automatic gearbox.

“Great care has been taken to make ESS one of the most engaging manuals ever created,” the company promises in a press release.

koenigsegg engage shift system blueprint diagram

Koenigsegg

“You can operate it just like a normal clutch, there is no difference,” says von Koenigsegg – inclusive clumsy operation, as Monaco officers are warned: “If you jump off the clutch, the car even lurches and stalls.”

Once shifting is mastered, the CC850 will hurtle toward infinity with 1,020 lb-ft of torque, though premium unleaded bumps horsepower by 200 to 1,185 horses. Corn-fed with E85, the streamlined car matches the 2014 Koenigsegg One:1’s claim-to-fame with a power-to-weight ratio of 1,385 horses to 1,385 kilograms, or 3,047 pounds. The sleek shape is aided by a rigid carbon fiber monocoque with aluminum honeycomb, a safety passenger cell and a carbon fiber body with Kevlar. Ceramic brakes accommodate 16.1-inch rotors up front, on staggered wheels (20 inches front, 21 rear) shod with Michelin Pilot Sport 4S rubber. As with the 1600 horsepower Jesko, the in-house engineered engine has no energy-consuming flywheel, making it probably the world’s fastest-revving engine to its peak of 8,500 rpm. The crankshaft plane is flat, the intake manifold carbon fiber, and the exhaust manifold a Tig-welded, 3D-printed hunk of expensive Inconel.

koenig egg cc850

Koenigsegg

“The motor’s synaptic response and the sonic sensations are truly otherworldly and incomparable,” the press release states. Owners can feel free to use that explanation when an officer clocks them going over 200 mph.

The prototype shown on The quail, a motorsport gathering at Pebble Beach — perhaps the weekend’s highest tableau of exclusivity, helicopter arrivals, ice-cold oysters and Botox-frozen features — is the only thing that exists, and it’s fully drivable.

Von Koenigsegg says he has driven it on the test track and in the company’s hangar. “The performance is staggering,” he says.

koenigsegg cc850 interior

Koenigsegg

Where the Jesko Attack chases the fastest lap times via maximum downforce and channeling, and the Jesko Absolute flirts with a theoretical top speed of 330 mph, the CC850 is meant to be the driver’s car: less about ultimate performance, more about ultimate driving pleasure. Design priorities include entry, handling and braking. An active, top-mounted deployable wing still generates a hefty 455 pounds of downforce.

“It’s somewhere in the middle, not as fast on the track as the Attack, and a lower top speed than the Absolute,” he says. “It’s all a celebration of analog, but with extreme performance on top.”

That said, the new model can have one record safely in the bag.

“It has to be the fastest manual car around a race track I can think of,” says von Koenigsegg. That is, assuming you accept it as a manual.

koenigsegg cc850 wheels

Koenigsegg

Dual ceramic ball bearing turbos reduce volume compared to Jesko’s to eliminate all traces of lag.

“You might have one hand on the shifter and one hand on the wheel at full throttle, so you don’t want any extra surprises,” says von Koenigsegg. ”

With the $3 million check cleared, drivers settle into the stunning interior to caress a classic round steering wheel and admire a chronograph-style gauge cluster with multiple analog hands. (Tach and speedo may need a special warranty given the training they will endure). A symmetrical interior layout makes it easy to adapt to right- or left-hand drive markets. This follow-up to the Regera, Gemera and Jesko further targets early Nordic-badged models, including its triple rear lights and dial dial, centre-locking aluminum wheels.

The new car carries over familiar brand features such as its visor-like windscreen, easily accessible dihedral “synchro-helix” doors and removable hardtop. The hydraulic Autoskin function lets the CC850 perform a seven-digit striptease, opening all its doors and compartments at the push of a button.

koenigsegg cc850 seen from the side

Koenigsegg

Von Koenisegg adds that creating a manual supercar in 2022 is a huge challenge, not least for emissions compliance, but also to give owners the performance and features they expect at these prices. As the maraschino cherry on top of this wondrous confection, Koenigsegg jokes that “it has the things you’d expect on a budget car,” such as Apple CarPlay, inductive phone charging, a bird’s-eye view camera and rear parking sensors.

With its recently expanded facilities, a company that built three or four cars in its first year now has the capacity to build one a week. CC850 production should begin next summer, limited to 50 units (a nod to Christian’s recent birthday), to be built over 2.5 to three years.

koenigsegg cc850 rear ¾

Koenigsegg

With collectors swarming the lawns of Pebble Beach and elbowing each other at seven-figure auctions, what makes a Koenigsegg stand out? Exclusivity, of course, with the company having built just over 250 cars over the past two decades. But there is more to it, says the founder.

“They’re special for a lot of reasons: the technology we put in, that they’re completely hand-built in every way, and that we stuff them with more homegrown solutions and technology than any low-volume car I know.”

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