Koenigsegg Jesko pushes the combustion "megacar" towards its absolute limit, targeting 300 mph
Beating some 1,600 horsepower out of a 5-liter twin-turbo V8 is no small achievement. Creating a new multi-clutch transmission that can skip instantly from any gear to any other is amazing. But the new King Koenigsegg also has its sights set on becoming the world's first 300 mph production car.
Christian Koenigsegg has clearly seen the problem we've been struggling with when writing about the Rimac C_Two and Pininfarina Battista: if the supercar starts at around 700 horsepower, and the hypercar starts at 1,000 horsepower, what do you call the ridiculous machines that make vastly more?
Koenigsegg has thus put forward the word "megacar" for his latest release, a 1,600 horsepower monster named the Jesko, after his father. We're not sure about it. Megacar sounds like a car the size of a city. But you can't use Ubercar any more, everyone'll think it's a ride share. Gigacar? Maybe. Teracar? There'll certainly be no small amount of "tera"involved. But put us down in favor of super-doopercar – if it sounds a bit silly, perhaps that's not inappropriate. And we like silly.
The Jesko engine
The Jesko uses a 5-liter V8 with two big ol' turbos and a featherweight flat-plane, 180-degree crankshaft milled from a single block of Swedish Dievar steel to be the world's lightest production V8 crankshaft at 12.5 kilograms (27.6 lb). A lighter rotating mass, combined with lightweight connecting rods and pistons, means you can spin it faster, up to 8,500 rpm in this case, which must be quite an event to experience. Active engine mounts help counter the flat-plane tendency to vibrate.
Some turbo-driven hypercars address turbo lag with hybrid electric systems that provide instant torque on demand while the turbines spool up; not the Jesko, which instead houses a small compressor and a carbon air tank that blast a 20-bar (290 psi) shot of air into the turbos to wake them up and get them spinning for instant power response.
Individual pressure sensors on each cylinder are an industry first, says Koenigsegg, and provide real-time, precision combustion monitoring abilities. So the Jeska gets tumble valves on the intake to create a more turbulent air flow, for faster burn rates and better efficiency, especially at lower revs and colder engine temperatures.
The result: 1,280 horsepower on regular unleaded, and 1,600 horses if you run it on E85. 1,000 or more Nm (738 or more lb-ft) is available anywhere from 2,700 to 6,170 rpm, and torque maxes out at a hysterical 1,500 Nm (1106 lb-ft) at 5,100 rpm.
These numbers would spin our eyeballs in two separate directions if it wasn't for the fact that the latest generation of electric hypercars – particularly the C_Two and Battista – make somewhere around 1,900 horsepower, and 2,300 Nm (1,700 lb-ft) of instant torque everywhere.
Light Speed Transmission
Electrics are generally direct drive, though, leaving the real hairy-chested high-speed stuff as the domain of the combustion car with multi-speed transmission for the time being. Koenigsegg looked at the job of creating a transmission capable of handling 1,500 Nm of twisting power, and saw an opportunity to create something truly game-changing.
Rather than a sequential-shift dual-clutch transmission, the company created its own multi-clutch 9-speed gearbox that is somehow able to jump from any gear immediately to any other, in a process that takes "virtually zero time." Koenigsegg has thus created what it calls the "Ultimate Power on Demand," or UPOD system to put the Jesko's full complement of monstrous acceleration at your fingertips at all times.
Here's how it works from a driver's perspective: assuming you're shifting manually, you'll tool along on the highway, relaxing in top gear. Then you'll come up behind a pesky Prius going a touch under the speed limit, and decide to execute an overtaking maneuver. If you're feeling charitable, you might elect to click your downshift paddle lightly in, drop a gear and bimble past on torque alone. But if you're feeling motivated, you might decide to pull the paddle further in to its second click point and plant your foot.
You'd best be ready. The UPOD system will do the maths, checking your vehicle and engine speed, and instantly sock you into the gear with the maximum possible acceleration available. Tires will cry out for mercy, traction control will be engaged, and you will rocket past that Prius driver at such a horrifying rate that they might not know they've been overtaken at all, and simply assume that there's an air force base nearby flying experimental jets in the area.
Let's be realistic here. With the Jesko's mammoth torque spread so widely across the rev range, UPOD won't be necessary. But it sure is a cool idea. And the "Light Speed Transmission" comes with no weight penalty, weighing just 90 kg (200 lb) where regular dual-clutch designs can run you up to 140 kg (310 lb).
Super-doopercars need to be lightweight, and that means carbon. The Jesko gets a full carbon monocoque chassis that offers more headroom and leg room than the Regera. As it's designed to handle extreme speed and power, it's extremely strong and stiff. Suspension runs on F1-style wishbones, with electronically adjustable Ohlins damping controlled by Koenigsegg's own software and electrics.
Like the Agera in 2010, the Jesko gets a "Triplex" damping system as well, a horizontal damper built into the rear suspension to help combat the car's tendency to squat back under massive acceleration loads. But since it runs massive downforce as well, the Jesko gets a similar Triplex system at the front too. Both Triplex systems now offer active bump and rebound damping systems.
The 21x12-inch wheels are carbon fiber as well, and Koenigsegg claims they're the lightest and strongest of their size on a production car, with the biggest production street car bearings to boot, plus Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 hoops. You can get a set of R-spec tires as well, but they're dry weather only.
It's also worth mentioning that Jesko gets an adaptive, active rear wheel steering system that can turn the back wheels up to three degrees in search of extra agility, stability, faster cornering and a "heightening of the senses," if you need your senses (or anything else) any more heightened after reading those powertrain specifications.
Aerodynamics and design
We alluded to it above, but as a new contender for fastest production car in the world, the Jeska makes some serious downforce. That gigantic, double profile, reverse boomerang rear wing is your first hint; it's active, naturally, and its mounting struts hold it on from the top, so that air can pass underneath it cleanly.
Next you'll notice the massive front splitter – a true ankle-basher, the biggest on any Koenigsegg, and possessed of active under-body flaps that can "maximize or release downforce as required." Then there's the rest: hood scoops, side vents, diffusers ... even the side mirrors are tuned to give as much as 20 kg (44 lb) of downforce at speed.
The total downforce at 275 km/h (171 mph) is some 30 percent greater than what the One:1 can do: an enormous 1,000 kg (2,205 lb). Rip it up to top speed and you'll get 1,400 kg (3086 lb) of downforce. Not quite enough to drive this 1,420 kg (3,131 lb) beast upside down, but frankly if you find yourself doing that, you've probably done something very wrong.
As to the look of the thing, well, apart from that wacky rear wing there's nothing too abstruse. The Jesko looks fast and fun and nuggety, with wraparound tinted glass around the cockpit that makes it look a bit like a squashed motorcycle helmet from the side. In a good way.
Like other Koenigseggs, you can easily pop the carbon roof right off and drive it as an open-top roadster. That's a nice touch, it's like getting two cars for the price of fifty.
Interior and interfaces
It's a very high-tech looking affair, with multi-colored dials, knobs, buttons and screens agogo, and a 5-inch digital dash that feels like it belongs in a video game. The Jesko's "dihedral synchro-helix" doors and hoods all open at the press of a button, so you can plant it somewhere prominent and stage a show for onlookers with consummate ease.
The main 9-inch SmartCenter display can be controlled by touch or by SmartWheel, and the buttons on the steering wheel are all digital as well; tiny touchscreens with haptic feedback that can change function as required. All this digital gear can thus be updated over the air as better systems emerge over time.
Comfort-wise, Koenigsegg has targeted it as something you'll want to spend time in, so in addition to a choice between leather and Alcantara seats and trim, there's wireless phone charging, Bluetooth connectivity, USB ports, and things like birds-eye view parking assistance, complete with sensors to make sure those doors don't open upwards into anything. It all looks very nice.
The race to 300 mph
Ever since the Bugatti Veyron, top speeds on production cars have become pretty much academic. There's really nowhere you can go to drive much faster than 400 km/h (250 mph), and you need custom-designed one-off tires to handle those speeds with the slightest pretense of safety. Top speed testing is now a factory matter; no owner is going to get anywhere near it.
But super-doopercars are the very epitome of appendage swinging contests, and massive top speeds are the one domain in which combustion cars can still lord it over the new breed electrics. So you bet Koenigsegg is interested in making this the fastest production car on the planet.
That title is currently held by Koengisegg's own Agera, which hit a stupendous average speed of 277 mph (447 km/h), and also managed a record-smashing 37.28 second 0-400-0 km/h (0-250-0 mph) time. With Bugatti's Chiron and Hennessey's Venom GT not too far behind, the big number everyone's targeting now is 300 mph, or 483 km/h, and Christian Koengisegg reckons the Jesko can get there ... at least, in theory.
All the simulations are saying it's technically possible, using a revised, lower downforce aerodynamics and bodywork setup. So we've just got to wait and see what Koenigsegg and his team manage to achieve when they open the Jesko right up.
Just 125 Jeskos are planned for manufacture, with a pricetag somewhere around the US$3 million realm. So start hunting between the sofa cushions and saving your pennies!