2006 Koenigsegg CCX

2006 Koenigsegg CCX 2006 Koenigsegg CCX
Short Take Road Test

It's been more than five years since our backsides were intimate with the carbon-fiber seat of the only supercar made in Sweden, the Koenigsegg. That's probably long enough ago that you're saying out loud, "Koenigs what??"

To bring you up to speed, here's a Koenigsegg primer: Christian von Koenigsegg was just 22 when he started a car company in 1994 with the hope of producing what many thought was a pipe dream — the world's fastest production sports car. In the '90s, the king of the exotics was the outrageous $815,000 McLaren F1, capable of 231 mph. How could a kid from Sweden one-up mighty McLaren?

In November 2001, we tested a prototype of his first car, dubbed the CC V-8. It had all the exotic-car trappings — carbon-fiber chassis, swiveling doors, 655 horsepower from a mid-mounted supercharged V-8, and an estimated $300,000 price. A slipping clutch soured our test drive, but the car showed potential, running to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds. A retest was in order, but we decided to wait until a promised U.S. version arrived stateside.

While we waited, Koenigsegg tinkered. In 2004, he introduced a new model — the CCR — that came with 151 more horsepower, 806 in all. This car achieved the unthinkable in 2005 — it outran the McLaren — getting up to 241 mph at the seven-mile Nardo test track in Italy. But Koenigsegg's glory would last just a year, as our own Csaba Csere drove a $1.25 million Bugatti Veyron 16.4 to 253 mph [C/D, November 2005].

Still, Koenigsegg had made his point. Thirty-four of his cars have been sold abroad, and it is now available in the U.S. But we only had a chance for a brief drive of the 2006 CCX and not the hoped-for instrumented test session.

Although the price has more than doubled to $695,000, the bones of the CCX are much the same as those of the car we tested in 2001. The CCX is lighter, purportedly by 200 pounds, and has a horrific 806 horsepower from a twin-supercharged 4.7-liter V-8. The Koenigsegg's engine began life as the aluminum block from a Ford Mustang Cobra. It's now an original casting that's similar to the Ford block, but it's stiffer and has larger cooling passages. It sounds hellacious and sends the power to a six-speed manual transmission that drives the rear wheels.

It was 108 degrees when we drove the Koenigsegg at Las Vegas Speedway. The stylish metal gearshift knob and interior bits felt like branding irons. The car had no trouble operating in the heat, but the extreme temperature may be why it didn't feel as if it had a 50-percent-better power-to-weight ratio than a Corvette Z06. The handling, however, was without fault, the steering felt precise and nicely weighted, and the non-anti-lock brakes were reassuringly strong after a fast blast down the straight. Even the clutch, which has to hold firm against 806 ponies, was easy to operate. The CCX is quite civilized for a car that can run about as fast as an Indy racer, but you will have to pay that six-figure race-car price.