We have a running theory about Christian von Koenigsegg, the genius founder of Swedish hypercar company Koenigsegg, that basically states he’s actually from the future. He’s stuck in our era, trying to invent a car fast enough to take him back to his home time. After driving the $2.5 million, 1,360 horsepower, 277.9 mph Koenigsegg Agera RS, I don’t doubt this at all, and I think he may be close.
This car is like nothing else I’ve experienced. It’s obscenely fast, incredible to look at, and displays a technical exercise no one else could have dreamed of putting into a road car.
Someone needs to come up with a new word for the level of fast this machine defines, because “fast” isn’t good enough here.
(Full Disclosure: Koenigsegg’s people and I have been talking for a while about driving one of their cars, after a colleague connected us over Instagram. They insisted I make one of my usual trips to Los Angeles to drive one of their cars, and then said it might be possible to drive the record-breaking Agera RS. I agreed.)
Koenigsegg is an Ängelholm, Sweden-based company that specializes in ridiculously engineered cars that break all the rules, and have been doing so since 1994, when founder Christian von Koenigsegg was just 22. Conventional engineering and performance means nothing to them—they’ve come up with a million ideas of their own to incorporate into the obscenely fast cars their buyers demand.
A few examples of their madness include things like a Dihedral Synchrohelix Door Actuation System (I didn’t just make that shit up), hollow Aircore carbon wheels, Triplex Suspension, the Freevalve system used on other models, a fully in-carbon chassis integrated fuel tank, and ditching the idea of a gearbox entirely.
The dude’s next-level. Whatever century he’s actually from must be awesome.
The Agera RS is an even faster version of the wickedly fast Agera series of cars that Koenigsegg has been producing since 2015.
There are only 25 Agera RS models in existence, and each owner works alongside Koenigsegg to personalize every detail from color, stitching, engine power output, and car nickname.
First of all, this is not a supercar. It’s not even a hypercar. The basic Agera RS has a 5.0-liter twin-turbo V8 packing 1,140 horsepower, but some customers are allowed to opt for—at an additional cost of $250,000—a big bump in power.
Koenigsegg calls this a “megacar” because the damn thing has a megawatt, 1,341 horsepower worth, of power and over 1,000 lb-ft of torque.
Forget everything you know about performance cars that think they’re fast. This is a stupid amount of power, and Koenigsegg knows how to put it to the ground.
Hooking up all this power to the pavement is a seven-speed paddle shift transmission attached to an electronic differential that Koenigsegg designed and built in house, managed by Koenigsegg’s own gearbox control module.
When it comes to speed, the Agera RS can go from 0-60 mph in 2.9 seconds, 0-124 mph in 6.9 seconds, and can bolt from 0-186 mph in under 14 seconds.
To keep the car planted at speed in any condition, Koenigsegg’s Triplex Suspension works overtime to keep you comfortable in the cabin. Not satisfied with any modern supercar suspension designs, the team of engineers and Christian von Koenigsegg himself came up with the idea of a pushrod suspension, which incorporates a third damper over the top of the rear suspension, inside the engine bay.
Owners have the option of running pump gas or E85 in the tank, and the Agera RS will quickly sense and adapt fuel mappings and performance to give you the most power.
The Koenigsegg Agera RS is built using some of the most advanced technology available in any production car, utilizing a carbon fiber monocoque with aluminum honeycomb, and fuel tanks integrated directly into the tub. You read that right, and I was surprised to learn that I was surrounded with a flammable liquid while sitting in the driver’s seat.
While it looks big in photos, it’s actually smaller than the current Porsche 911 in length and height, while being a few inches wider. Tipping the scales at 3,075 pounds, the Agera RS is even a few hundred pounds lighter than a 911, and over 1,000 pounds less than a Bugatti Chiron, to put things into perspective.
An impressive amount of active aerodynamics are developed by Koenigsegg to keep the car effectively planted through any bend while opening the current to let the Agera RS be super slippery when you’re blasting down the road at over 200 mph.
Managing the contact with the road are Koenigsegg’s Aircore hollow carbon fiber wheels wrapped in 265/35/19" Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires up front and 345/30/20" rubber out back.
The top speed game has gotten so crazy that Bugatti won’t let Koenigsegg try to find out how fast their car can go on VW’s test track in Germany. Instead, a couple Koenigsegg customers and the powers that be back in Ängelholm banged out an idea of just closing off some stretch of public highway in Nevada, and taking a crack at the record.
On November 4, 2017, Koenigsegg shut down an 11-mile chunk of Highway 160, between Las Vegas and Pahrump, Nevada, threw test driver Niklas Lilja his helmet and fireproof suit, tossed him inside the roll-cage-equipped cockpit, and told him to give it the beans.
In doing so, they set a handful of world records, including the big one that matters, by running a combined average of 277.9 mph in two directions. Down a road any idiot can drive a Prius on.
Among the records set that day are the top speed on a public road at 284.55 mph, doing 0 to 400 and back to 0 kph (that’s 248.5 mph) in 33.29 seconds, fastest flying mile on a public road at 276.36 mph, and the fastest flying kilometer on a public road at 276.9 mph.
The Agera RS I drove is the actual car that broke the world records, and is owned by a Koenigsegg customer, so had to take extra special care of it, seeing as this car is probably now worth over $10 million.
I was very careful with it.
The owner was excited to meet me, and went for a quick drive with me around Orange County to get acclimated. Having experienced some of the world’s fastest cars on the road and around a circuit, I’ve conditioned myself rather well to maneuvering the big players. I’m fortunate to say I’ve driven the Bugatti Veyron, Ferrari LaFerrari, Porsche 918 Spyder, and McLaren P1, including plenty of time around a track in them, but none of those prepared me for the savagery that the Koenigsegg Agera RS dishes out.
The startup process is like any other modern car, with a push button starter on the center console, but once you press that an eruption goes off behind you that sets off car alarms. It’s loud, rumbles, and immediately informs you that you are in a car like no other. The cockpit may be low and compact at first glance, but the greenhouse is huge, due to a massive curved windscreen with A-pillars placed far enough out to allow you a high amount of visibility.
There isn’t a rear view mirror, as there’s a massive engine compartment and huge rear wing spoiler setup, but there is a trick in the center screen that allows you to keep the rear camera on full-time. That same screen is where you make all the seat and mirror adjustments too, which was super cool. To hell with toggle switches and knobs.
Memory foam makes up the seats, and they’re way more comfortable than could ever be expected in a car this fast and focused on dropping weight for speed.
Once you’re on the road, you find that the car is actually quite compliant, and easy to handle on the usual city roads. Sure there’s over five times the power in any typical daily driver on tap, and yes, it takes zero effort to unleash much of it.
But the throttle pedal isn’t touchy, and you can easily move from a stop or change lanes to make a pass without being aggressively shoved forward. Steering is light and predictable, and even if you want to push the Agera RS around a corner, it isn’t going to snap at you like a rabid dog.
Should you decide to test the acceleration waters, you will be instantly rewarded by this Koenigsegg, and possibly frightened. The Swedish beast awakens, turbos spool up, and you are provided a sensation astronauts are used to feeling on a launch pad. A roar comes from just behind your head, your body is smashed into the seat, and the digital speedometer blows through numbers faster than that national debt clock that used to be on display in New York City.
Plenty of cars now have exhausts that crackle and pop, and I’m surely a fan of them. The Agera RS packs an entirely different sort of noise out back. Each gear change is met with the bang of a cannon out back, that scared the shit out of one pedestrian, who damn near ducked for cover when I popped off a quick shift at half-throttle.
The Agera RS attracts a ton of attention, some of which is unwanted. Sure, you’re going to have passers-by snapping pictures along the road, and there might be the occasional phone stuck out of the window of a moving car, trying to catch a frame or two, but at one point we were followed for half an hour by some younger guy in a Toyota 86. The dude even followed us to a Starbucks, parked close to us, waited in his car, and then stayed on our bumper for several miles once we got back on the road. He was really into it.
After getting quickly used to what the Koenigsegg felt like, we took off for the canyons and some wide open highway stretches. With the owner’s suggestion and encouragement, I was sent off to open the taps, and truly explore what this car is capable of.
No, I didn’t have an abandoned airfield at my disposal, but there are a few highways and a certain toll road in Southern California that lend themselves to having over 1,300 horsepower at your disposal.
On a winding canyon road, the Koenigsegg is definitely happy. From corner to corner, the Agera RS carries speed and the lack of weight extremely well, and without any drama. Even if you try to stab the gas heavily as you hit an apex, the car isn’t quick to punish you. In fact, it’s really predictive and lets you know if you’re stepping out progressively.
I was expecting the car to bite my head off if I was a little heavy on the throttle when steering angles got higher, but it was so easy to maneuver. That massive rear wing may also be a good reason for the massive amount of grip through a corner, paired with the smart electronic differential out back.
When I’d approach a tighter corner, and need to scrub off some of the ludicrous amount of speed I was carrying, massive 397 mm ceramic front brake discs with 6-piston calipers paired with 380 mm rear discs with four-piston calipers would quickly chomp down to keep my ass out of trouble. These brakes did their job exceptionally well when I spotted a cop nearby and decided to, you know, dial it back a tad.
When back on the highway, I was ready to test how long the Agera RS’s legs were. I’m not a complete idiot, and I know how to be safe if there are a lot of other drivers on the road, but with a good amount of space available, I gave the Agera RS a good dose of my right foot.
Two words: holy shit. If you’re already going 85 mph or so, a slight dose of the go pedal in any gear will blast the car ahead, quickly reaching speeds faster than you’ve probably driven anything before. Should you keep that foot planted for a few more seconds, and if you’ve got the space around you in a straight line, you’ll quickly be exceeding numbers F1 cars carry down a long straightaway.
Did I go anywhere near the record-breaking speed? Of course not. How could I? That run was made on a closed highway, the car had a roll cage installed, and the driver was wearing a helmet and fireproof race suit. They also had a ton of safety workers and emergency services on standby, in case anything went wrong. I didn’t have any of those measures to support my efforts, and I wasn’t looking to lose my license.
Yet I was shocked how easily the car could keep itself steady while also providing the feeling of thrust you expect from a Top Fuel dragster. Then I repeated this process a handful of times. Besides, when are you going to be given the keys to a car that’s easily capable of making several 100 to 200 mph pulls without breaking a sweat?
What surprised me is how balanced and steady the Koenigsegg felt when I was at a rate of speed that would get me thrown in handcuffs, even while my eyeballs were smashed into the back of my head.
The top speed competition is getting wild, and companies are going to keep fighting it out. When will the current technology and tire capability finally buckle and stop the growth of speeds achieved? I can’t say for certain, but it’s coming soon. Bugatti claims they can’t effectively reach the Chiron’s top speed because Michelin doesn’t guarantee the tires to hold up if they wanted to try to push the car to its speedometer’s display of 300 mph.
Koenigsegg put the new Regera model in the hands of customers, and I want the chance to drive it too. The Regera packs even more crazy tech and power than the Agera, but Koenigsegg states this is a more comfortable car that’s not intended to knock off any top speed records... yet.
Maybe Christian von Koenigsegg is cooking up the new car that will finally send him home.
Clarification: This post has been updated to clarify that the Agera RS does not use the Freevalve system. We still think it’s cool, though.