Koenigsegg’s CC850 and its auto-manual-magical transmission are kind of mind-blowing. We stared slack-jawed when we saw it at The Quail, and it still kind of scrambles our brains when we think about the actual technology that must be at work to make it function. Luckily, we have the internet’s very own Jason Fenske, aka EngineeringExplained on YouTube.
Jason has taken to his famous whiteboard to explain just what the hell is going on with Konegisegg’s Engage Shift System (aka ESS), and oddly enough, it’s less complicated than we had imagined.
Here’s the TL; DW: The transmission uses gearsets on shafts like every other transmission. Instead of having one or two big clutches, it has a clutch pack on each of the seven gears inside the transmission. These clutch packs are controlled by a computer in automatic mode, giving you a total of nine forward gears — pretty normal-ish stuff.
Things get a little more interesting when you want to use the transmission in manual mode. First, in manual mode, you have access to six forward gears. The computer controls the clutch pack on the first of the two individual cogs that combine to give you a drive gear. The “clutch pedal” controls the second clutch pack. The clutch pedal is purely electronic, so there’s no hydraulic or physical connection between it and the transmission.
Still with me? Ok, so we’re going deeper. In manual mode, you can select between a couple of different modes, and those modes determine which gear pairs (ratios) are represented in the H-gate that you use to shift. In regular road mode, the first gear on the gate is actually the second gear in automatic mode. In track mode, that changes. As you start out from a stop, it’s still second gear, but once you move past a certain speed, that first gear in the gate changes to third gear in automatic mode, because you don’t use low gears on a track, typically.
It gets better. Rather than using all of its considerable power to make you look like a superhuman driver when using manual mode, Koenigsegg has opted to let the transmission stall out the engine if you get things wrong. People will complain about the clutch-by-wire and its “lack of feedback” or something, but if you can stall it by being bad at shifting, then damnit, it’s a manual.
Like all other Koenigsegg technologies, this is amazing, and we dearly hope it gets licensed out to other companies to get trickled into cars for mortals. This is true of stuff like Freevalve and the Tiny Friendly Giant engine, too, because, if internal combustion is going away, we should all get to experience the best stuff before it goes.