The Koenigsegg CC850 Is A Throwback Hypercar With An Insane Gated Gearbox Made For People Who Really Love Driving

Koenigsegg Cc850 Topshot

Attention Lamborghini, this is how you do a supercar throwback. The Koenigsegg CC850 is a bit of a present, melding old-school sensibilities with modern technology just in time for a major anniversary. This U.S.-legal toy isn’t just a 20th-anniversary tribute to the Koenigsegg CC8S, it marks Christian von Koenigsegg’s 50th birthday. What better way to mark a milestone than to honor the past while working towards the future?

Cc8s
Photo credit: Norbert Aepli, Switzerland, CC BY 4.0

First, a briefing on the CC8S. This Ford V8-powered targa-topped weapon burst onto the scene in 2002, promising a rawer, more insane experience than was otherwise available from its contemporaries. While its 655 horsepower doesn’t sound crazy today, that was an earth-shattering number 20 years ago, and it helped the CC8S gain reverence the world over. The whole car promised more of everything than typical supercars of the time, from a quarter-mile time of ten seconds flat to a top speed of 240 mph. The hype around the CC8S was inescapable, and quickly built Koenigsegg a name as the maker of some seriously extreme supercars. No wonder the Swedish company would honor such greatness with the CC850.

Koenigsegg Cc850 Rear
Photo credit: Koenigsegg

Power for the CC850 comes from Koenigsegg’s signature five-liter biturbo V8. Combining a flat-plane-crank with a lack of a flywheel, it should rev up to its 8,500 rpm limit rather quickly. Output of 1,185 horsepower and 1,020 lb.-ft. of torque is good, and power rises to 1,385 horsepower on E85. For the hypercar fans keeping track at home, that’s 218 horsepower shy of what a Koenigsegg Jesko makes on E85. Strangely, I’m not sure if I care about the deficit. The CC850 should still be plenty quick, especially with a quoted weight of 3,053 pounds (1,385 kg). Plus, despite being a Koenigsegg, power isn’t what matters here.

Koenigsegg Cc850 Front
Photo credit: Koenigsegg

What matters is the shape, a strategic modernization of the iconic CC8S that built Koenigsegg a name in the mega-fast weekend toy industry. Instead of trying to force a shape over a structure never designed for it, Koenigsegg simply took the best elements of the CC8S and modernized them. The rounded, horizontal headlights, the simple front fascia, the five-circle wheels, the small rounded tail lights, and the greenhouse like a helmet’s visor. The proportions of the CC850 aren’t quite the same as on the CC8S, but they’re close enough that Koenigsegg has managed to make everything work.

Interior
Photo credit: Koenigsegg

On the inside, its much of the same story. Sure, Apple CarPlay and wireless phone charging are on tap here, but the simple dashboard and unashamed seams harken back to a purer era of supercar. Plus, check out the amazing analog gauges that look very much like aviation instruments. Speed, boost pressure, and revs are displayed concentrically in the center gauge, while gauges on each side keep the driver aware of everything from fuel level to gearbox temperature. It’s just so refreshingly old-school that it’s sure to age fabulously, unlike most modern digital instrument clusters.

Koenigsegg Engage Shift System
Photo credit: Koenigsegg

Then there’s the matter of the gearbox, a truly insane solution called the Engage Shift System that combines the performance of a modern flappy-paddle gearbox with the engagement of a manual. Slot the lever into D, and you have a nine-speed multi-clutch automated gearbox that can shift like the best of them. However, take the lever out of D and you’ll find six forwards gears and a clutch pedal that you actually have to use. While the manual function is entirely drive-by-wire, it can choose gearsets based on drive mode, features hydraulic force-feedback, and rowing through six gated gears still sounds like an absolute treat from a bygone era.

Koenigsegg Cc850 Rear Three Quarters
Photo credit: Koenigsegg

Crashing under a wave of nostalgia, memories of playing Project Gotham Racing 2 after school come flooding back like faded Polaroids. Grainy Kodak disposable shooting with the flash on, the cold October air the morning of the Scholastic book fair. Nu Metal MP3s bleeding through shitty earbuds, bright-eyed excitement for the future of life, yet caution in the face of a panicked zeitgeist. The 2000s wasn’t the best decade, but it was certainly an important one. A glimpse of the Koenigsegg CC850 unchains younger millennial and older Gen Z car enthusiasts from the earth, rent and bills and overtime become weightless, and in that moment we’re children again. Back to basics, back to concentrate, back to a bygone supercar philosophy: what about a sports car, but more?

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Lead photo credit: Koenigsegg

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30 Responses

  1. “ Most of our faculties lie dormant because they can rely upon Habit, which knows what there is to be done and has no need of their services “

    When Marcel Proust branched into auto journalism

    Crashing under a wave of nostalgia, memories of playing Project Gotham Racing 2 after school come flooding back like faded Polaroids.

    Yeah that’s the ticket, nicely punched.

  2. So, it’s a 9 speed transmission that picks 6 of its speeds in manual mode depending on driving style selected?

    Shortest 6 gears for autocross mode, 2,4,6-9 for top speed runs, that sort of thing?

    With it being all by wire I love that someone had to program in the behavior for bogging the engine instead of downshifting or stalling it entirely on a bad takeoff.

    1. I read elsewhere it has like 5 clutches so I imagine it can use those 9 gears in combination to create any number of ratios. It will still probably use all 9 gears but be transparent to the driver. Especially since the other place I read claimed a shift time of .05s!!!

  3. That gearbox seems to me to be an analogue to a mechanical watch in the 21st century, designing complexity for its own sake rather than for a rational improvement.

    I can recognize and salute the engineering achievement while laughing a bit to myself about Rube Goldberg.

    1. This is more like having a smart watch that also has a motor that spins the hands with a convincing mechanical tick. The actual brains and functional mechanics are advanced and complex, but the user-interface is contrived such as to convince the operator that it’s direct and mechanical.

  4. Car looks great, but at the risk of sounding crude, that transmission sounds like spending a fortune to develop the ultimate sex doll instead of just going out and getting laid. I appreciate the effort and engineering, but I question how it’s better than the real thing.

    1. Keep the GR86 long enough and your left foot will get sensitive enough to appreciate the clutch feel.
      I’ve had my BRZ almost 10 years now and my clutch engagement/release is almost telepathic.
      So many car owners these days aren’t willing to keep a car long enough to truly “feel” the controls.

  5. “Then there’s the matter of the gearbox, a truly insane solution called the Engage Shift System that combines the performance of a modern flappy-paddle gearbox with the engagement of a manual. Slot the lever into D, and you have a nine-speed semi-automatic gearbox that can shift like the best of them. However, take the lever out of D and you’ll find six forwards gears and a clutch pedal that you actually have to use. While the manual function is entirely drive-by-wire, it can choose gearsets based on drive mode, features hydraulic force-feedback, and rowing through six gated gears still sounds like an absolute treat from a bygone era.”

    It’s……….

    …about…..

    …time!!!!!

    Thank you. So many of us simply want the feature to row one’s own. I’m okay with is being a bit “faux” at this point. I just like using my left leg and right arm for something other than holding my Big Mac and left shoe.

    Oh, and for the record, my 1994 Toyota Pickup is 3,000lbs, and driving it brings me more joy than any other car I’VE owned.

  6. So, if I was insanely wealthy and wanted a supercar I could shift myself I’d probably get a T50, but I would love to hear Christian talk about the technology behind making an auto feel like a manual because I just love listening to him. And reading about what it’s like to actually use would be…..interesting.

  7. Can we get a real engineering deep dive (hopefully with some input from Koenigsegg) on the gearbox. I watched their presentation on YouTube and all the marketing speak coming out of Christian’s mouth sounded freaking awesome, and knowing Koenigsegg, they’ll deliver on all of it. It’s truly sounds fascinating.

    1. Duly seconded.My engineer brain was churning through all the ways a car could have 6-speed-manual and nine-speed-automatic functionality in the same package, and I imagine Koenigsegg has something much more elegant cooked up. The clutch pedal may be real, but is the actual clutch? Heck, there’s not even a flywheel. The Drive’s writeup made it sound like this was essentially a riff on the Mitsubishi Twin-Stick, which also doesn’t sound right.

      1. It sounds like an actual clutch. In the video, Koenigsegg (the person) notes that if you can’t drive stick, and attempt to drive it you risk the same stalling scenarios as with any other manual. I didn’t hear the mention of a dual clutch.

        Unfortunately, all the 3D models they showed appear to be for the shifter linkage, and not for the actual transmission.

        1. An actual clutch pedal, but all it’s connected to is a computer, which simulates what the transmission would do if it was a manual, based on your input. It isn’t a manual transmission though, and the clutch pedal is not mechanically connected to it in any way. It’s an automatic transmission (a DCT, anyway) with a very, very complicated “manual mode.”

          1. But the Light Speed Transmission isn’t a dual-clutch transmission from my understanding. And you get various gears by opening/closing the proper clutches for said gear. Everything else you’ve said sounds about right. It’s a manual-by wire that adds a bunch of hardware for the sole purpose of trying to make it feel as authentically manual as possible.

          2. Thats not the way I read it. I read it as the wire is just taking the place of the hydraulic line. If the clutch pedal is at 50%, then the clutch is at 50% and if you drop it without matching the revs, the clutch drops and the engine and transmission meet accordingly, just like a traditional manual.

            You use the term simulating, which would be additional logic gates that decouples the action on the pedal from the action on the clutch, I don’t read it that way.

            1. You know those education videos that GM put out in the ’30s or ’40s. I’d like to see Koenigsegg do something similar with some of their technology. Like, start really basic, build up a fundamental knowledge, and explain it in a clear and concise way with basic examples and simple demonstrations that people can relate to. Those videos that GM put out, are amazing.

              I say this as an engineer.

    2. It has a set of hydraulic multiplate clutches which alternately engage or disengage different gear pairs in the transmission to achieve 9 possible ratios.
      https://www.caranddriver.com/features/a28927301/koenigsegg-new-transmission-promises-ultraquick-shifts/

      This car just takes the user input through the gear stick and the clutch pedal and translates that electronically into selecting and modulating the relevant clutches inside the transmission with a high fidelity to user-requested amount of clutch engagement. The alternative ratios just means you can choose which of the 9 ratios you want to serve as your 6 “manual” ratios for a given situation.

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