THE NAME JESKO says a lot about Koenigsegg, its philosophy, heart and its history. No, it’s not called Ragnarok have believed and Christian von Koenigsegg has a explanation. “To name a car for Ragnarok (an old Norse prediction of the end of the world) would perhaps be a bit in that case it would be the downfall of all other super cars. It wasn’t me who suggested that the car be called but it feels very natural and good.”
The Jesko was unveiled at the 2019 Geneva motor show and was there - Christian’s father, Jesko von Koenigsegg that about to turn 80. Without the involvement of dad and mother Brita, there wouldn’t be a Swedish supercar company at all.
They have always supported and encouraged Christian and took the risk of selling the family’s house to help with when it was tough. After he sold his own business was the company’s first chairman and worked with Koenigsegg for five years.
Koenigsegg is still a family business and it feels small and even though it now employs more than 200 people in manufacturing and development. MOTOR visited Angelholm week before the Geneva show and everything around the car is hush-hush, especially the name. Von Koenigsegg senior has been asked to read the press release, but at this stage the name remains Ragnarok...
The car is due to be sent to Switzerland, but mere days ahead of the show it is far from ready. The team doing the final assembly will probably work all hours before everything is ready, and Christian keeps track of everything in his very humble manner. He doesn’t intend to be awake all day and night this time. It’s the 18th consecutive year Koenigsegg will exhibit at the Geneva Lounge. “I have been on a daily basis too many times. For the first time, we built the stand ourselves and I puttied plasterboard at night with an old credit card that no longer worked. But it is not so good to stand there in the morning completely black under the eyes.”
Before we can look at the car, we have to put on special overalls in order not to scratch anything. It also says a lot about Koenigsegg: love for details. The obsession with perfection permeates everything.
“We have a holistic view of cars, on everything. It is not possible to take parts from another model and use them on Jesko. When a parameter changes, all other details must also be adapted to it.”
The chain reaction almost never ends, but it is also the philosophy of Koenigsegg. If you sell cars for around £2.5m (AUD$4m) each, everything must be perfect.
“The engineers construct the whole car together. It is not good, for example, for those who develop the suspension to just do their bit. Everything must work optimally with other parts, which in turn affect other parts. In this way, we constantly find new solutions.” Christian gives us a tour and explains all the details, like the new gearbox with seven couplings and nine gears. It is lighter, smaller and faster than any other “double-clutch ’box”. It should also be cheaper to build than normal gearboxes.
You can switch from any gear to any other in milliseconds, it is a so-called “Light Speed Transmission”. Press hard on the gear selector lever and the car’s computer will find the optimum gear that is lightly placed in position and maximum power delivered. It’s a bit like an electric motor, which always gives everything directly. The fact that the gearbox is compact means that the aerodynamics can be improved and the weight distribution gets better. It weighs only 90kg against the 140kg a conventional double-coupling ’box can weigh.
When I ask if they tested the gearbox and why no-one has used it before, Christian replies, “I don’t understand why no one has done this before, there are only benefits. We have run it in a simulator lots of times, but I would be disappointed if we didn’t burn some clutches when we start driving!”
You should also be able to “switch over” with the paddles, by pushing past a resistor. The feature is best for getting superacceleration in a straight line. When braking, you often want to use the engine brake and change over through the ’box.
ONE The interior was far from finished when we visited, but the centre console features a new design with touch-screen tech
TWO At just 12.5kg, the Jesko’s 180-degree flat-plane crankshaft is the world’s lightest and allows the 5.0-litre V8 to rev to 8500rpm
THREE Koenigsegg’s Triplex suspension (from the Agera) is used with a third, horizontal damper being added near the rear window to combat squat
“We are going to build the world’s fastest street-legal car in all markets,” Christian says happily.
The car must then be able to be registered in any country and be able to run in normal traffic. It receives all modern luxury equipment that you may need for everyday driving, while it must also meet all safety requirements and exhaust regulations - just like a ‘normal’ car.
But it is on racetracks that it should show. What visually distinguishes the Jesko is the huge front splitter and the boomerang-shaped double rear wing. The aerodynamics have been optimised to suit the design.
The designer, Joachim Nordwall, has been able to adapt to the aerodynamics, creating little resistance. Of course, the legal requirements have also been affected - nothing must stand out too much. However, it is very much Koenigsegg over the forms, with the special front window and the proportions remaining an integral part. It looks a bit like a slightly beaten Koenigsegg, with racing ambitions.
The rear wing has been optimised to reduce turbulence over the body. The front splitter has two small “aircraft wing brakes” underneath which can be folded out to reduce ground pressure if you want a higher top speed. In theory one could control the flaps individually.
The aim of aerodynamics has been to maximise downforce and cooling while at the same time the air resistance should be low. Even the rear-view mirrors contribute 20kg of downforce to the rear of the car.
At 250km/h, the downforce is 800kg and at 275km/h it is 1000kg. Compared to the Koenigsegg One:1, this is an increase of 30 per cent, and 40 per cent compared to the Agera RS. At top speed, downforce is 1600kg - that is more than what the car weighs.
For the car not to bottom out, Koenigsegg has fitted the same type of horizontally lying suspension that the Agera used for the rear axle in 2010. The adaptive suspension gives the car optimal ground clearance at high speeds, while at the same time the road holding is good even under low pressure at lower speeds. The usual dampers are otherwise fully electronically adjustable Ohlins.
The rear wheels can also swivel up to three degrees, in the opposite direction to the fronts at low speed for increased agility, or in the same direction at higher speeds for more stability. This provides better grip in high-speed corners. The engine mounts are active, which can give higher comfort when cruising and more direct behaviour when pressing on.
The new carbon-fibre rims are extremely lightweight, 7.4kg rears and 5.9kg fronts, each. They are smaller than the rear wheels on the Agera RS. Newly developed are the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 R boots - the stickiest road tyre Michelin has ever developed, the one used by Porsche for its latest Nurburgring record laps. It’s a new pattern that will give 10 per cent more road contact and, according to Michelin, will lower lap times as much as if the effect was increased by 10-30 per cent - compared to the brand’s usual Cup 2 tyres.
The engine has, of course, also been modified, why settle for Koenigsegg One: 1 and its 1360 horses with E85? The world’s lightest camshaft in a V8 is a good start. And it has a 180 degree angle, which can provide more power, but also a more powerful sound and more vibration - which can thus counteract the active motor mounts.
The connecting rods are newly designed and extremely lightweight. The pistons are also extremely light. The system that injects highly compressed air into the turbochargers, like Volvo’s Power Pulse, will reduce turbo lag and make it possible to use two large turbochargers instead of four smaller ones. The system should also provide faster start-up of the catalysts.
The engine is also the first series production engine with three injectors per cylinder. The third injector is centrally located and should provide cooling to the cylinders, cleaner combustion and less stress on the engine at high revolutions. Each cylinder also has a built-in pressure sensor (first in the world as well, of course) which should give more flexibility and better control. With E85 in the tank, this means 1195kW and 1500Nm - which is not only the brand’s strongest engine, Koenigsegg also believes that it is the most potent combustion engine in series production.
And what does all this mean in reality? We asked Niklas Lilja who has the high speed record with an Agera RS of 477km/h. “I think that Koenigsegg’s cars are a little undervalued as road cars and I think we could beat many records with the Agera RS. But this will be even sharper. Lower weight and lots of downforce on the front wheels.”
What records do you want to beat? “There are many tracks that it would be fun to test the Jesko on. But the Nurburgring should be possible in 6 minutes 30 seconds. But there are many fast competitors.”
Dream lap time? “Six minutes...”
At the same time, the team worked on the show car, which was also unveiled at Geneva before embarking on an aroundthe-world tour to show it off. Niklas dreams of the first real test car, which he will aim to set records with. Construction of this car will start in the next few months. Production of customer Jeskos will, however, only start next year with deliveries in 2021, and there are already orders for 80 (including a rumoured four orders from Australia). The factory is fully working and Christian is planning for the future with the new slightly cheaper Koenigsegg cars which will be partly built in Trollhattan, together with NEVS.
“They become real Koenigsegg cars, but different. Designed to be easier to build, but they will not compete with the cars we build today.”
Finally, I cannot help asking Christian why the Jesko does not have any kind of electric motor. “Batteries are still heavy and an electric car does not sound as good. We wanted to celebrate by building the roughest and fastest internal combustion engine we could. And if you drive it on E85 you are fine when it comes to emissions and carbon dioxide - maybe even better than an electric car if you include the battery production.”
Is there no new Koenigsegg after this, without any form of electrification? “No” is the answer from the man who waits impatiently for his new Tesla Model 3.
So it is full speed ahead like never before. But at the same time, the Jesko is a car reminiscent of its origin. The passion and the belief that one can succeed with what one is passionate about. And that is not always easy.