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Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Inside Koenigsegg Marathon

2010/11 Koenigsegg Agera
The Drive Channel on YouTube just keeps on giving. First Chris Harris's reviews and now Inside Koenigsegg, an 8-part series whose title explains its purpose and which has proven to be a fascinating insight into how the Swedish hypercar maker thinks and operates. The series has now finished, but unlike with TV, you can still watch all the episodes whenever you want... for free! Here's the quick introduction from founder and big boss, Christian von Koenigsegg (who wouldn't make a bad Bond villain):

Intro (1:17)

The eight full episodes (each 10mins or less) are after the jump.

PART 1

Carbon Fibre Construction (8:33)


First up, a look at the extensive use of carbon fibre. Pretty much the entire structure is made of CFRP, making it much lighter but at least as rigid as metal.

PART 2

Triplex Suspension Explained (7:10)

Next, Mr. Koenigsegg introduces his innovative third damper that is meant to combine the strengths of different rear suspension layouts while removing their weaknesses.

PART 3

Million Dollar Paintjob (7:24)

Of course, when you're spending the kind of money that cars like this are worth, you want it to look like it's worth that much. Simply spraying some Halfords paint cans on in an afternoon isn't going to cut it.

PART 4

Feel Like A Million Bucks (7:34)

You also want it to feel like it's worth that much. Everything you touch and sit on must feel special, and as such there are precisely zero plastic parts in the interior of the Agera and Agera R.

By the way, if you're getting bored of the intro, skip to 55 seconds in.

PART 5

The Ultimate Test Drive (10:39)

Once it looks and feels special in superficial ways, it must be made to feel special when you're actually driving it. That's where Koenigsegg's test driver comes in. Prepare to feel like you have an inferior job.

PART 6

Inside the Brain of a Swedish Bombshell (8:08)

With all the various elements to keep under control in what's otherwise an utterly unhinged supercar, the on-board computer(s) need to be as sophisticated as everything else, of course.

PART 8

The 1140 Horsepower Heart of a Hypercar (9:50)

I'm actually going to put this final episode before the penultimate one, because it makes more sense this way around. Here they talk about their mighty 5.0-litre Twin-Turbo V8, which proves that the 8.0-litre Quad-Turbo W16 in the Bugatti Veyron is in some ways over-engineered, seeing as it's no more powerful. There's an amazing fact about it that Christian explains, which is what a 1.3-litre three-cylinder engine would be like if it was engineered like their V8.

They started out at the turn of the century with a 4.7-litre supercharged Ford V8, which became twin-supercharged to boost power from 655bhp to 806bhp for the 2004 CCR, the car to beat the McLaren F1's production car top speed record a year before the Veyron came to power. The CCX that replaced it was powered by an engine they designed themselves, although it was probably based on the same architecture at first. It now makes 960bhp after enlarging it to 5.0 litres and swapping superchargers for turbochargers, which rises to 1140bhp when you run it on E85 Bio-Ethanol. Where will it end?!

PART 7

The Future of the Internal Combustion Engine (10:06)

This is my favourite one, and the one which I consider the most fascinating of all: the cam-less engine. Instead of a camshaft spinning cams that push open the intake and exhaust valves like every other car, Koenigsegg (along with other, bigger car companies doing unconnected research into the same thing) is developing a system with pneumatic actuators to give infinitely variable valve timing, boosting overall efficiency significantly. Christian uses a nice metaphor to explain it and then shows you a SAAB 9-5 SportCombi that's actually used the system without failure for tens of thousands of miles. The improvement figures he gives are staggering. Expect to see (and hear, it seems) pneumatic actuators on engines in the near future. I think it would work well in hydrogen combustion engines, should that idea take off in the future as well.

BONUS SORT-OF DOCUMENTARY

Koenigsegg: Sweden's Hypercar (30:21)


Before this series started, Drive Channel director person J.F Musial went to Angelholm in Sweden to talk to the boss and look around the factory. It's half an hour and after the videos above there will be a few bits of repeat information, but if you can find the time, it's worth watching.

Of all the hypercar companies out there - Pagani, Lamborghini, etc. - Koenigsegg certainly comes across as the most interesting and serious of them all, although perhaps an 8-part mini-series on Pagani and Lamborghini would level things out a bit. Still, when extreme engineering meets 25-carat badassery, something as special as the CCX or Agera R can come along and put a small company based in a Swedish air base on the map as one of the supercar greats of our (and perhaps all) time.

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