Koenigsegg's horizontal roller coaster
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The Koenigsegg Agera R, built by an extraordinary man named Christian von Koenigsegg, in Angelholm, Sweden, last year laid waste to a bunch of Guinness production-car records, among them: zero to 186 miles per hour and back to zero in 21.19 seconds. The very car I'm driving, in fact. And it is, it feels like, a horizontal roller coaster: At rest, the Agera R always seems poised in space, then hit the gas, over the top, and straight down, bang, bang, bang go the gears. A plunging vertigo takes over, a forward free-fall. The momentum builds in inexorable squares of mass and you scream your face off. Welcome to Six Flags Over Sweden.
The Agera R—$2.5 million or so, about 1,000 to 1,140 horsepower (depending on fuel), about 3,200 pounds—continues to crush passengers in excess of 1g of linear acceleration until somewhere north of 100 mph, at which point the car's aerodynamic shape begins to exert significant downforce (660 pounds at 155 mph). The rate of acceleration levels off but it's still going upstairs like crazy (124 to 186 mph takes 7 seconds). This is telemetry as pornography.
Mr. Koenigsegg estimates the car's top speed would clock in around 273 mph—faster than the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport's record of 267.8 mph—if, that is, he could find some stretch of Mars upon which to test it. On the company's conveniently located airfield, the prudent visitor gets on the brakes after touching 186 mph (I hit 190). The braking event from that speed requires less than 7 seconds and is likewise vigorous. It feels like your pants are going to fall off.
In short, the Agera R is the thing that eats bats out of hell. I am overawed. And yet, it does seem an unlikely obsession for the reserved and purposeful Christian von Koenigsegg.
There had been some concern that Koenigsegg was in financial trouble, and Mr. Koenigsegg, 40, admits business could be easier. The European market has lately fallen off the Earth. With an annual turnover of about €10 million ($13 million), he says, on 12 to 15 cars, Koenigsegg's financial aspirations are modest and the business is, for the moment, stable. "We're never going to make a personal fortune," he says in his IKEA-decorated office, in a former air-force maintenance facility. "The only reason we are still here is we accepted we were going to be small."