This low-drag top-speed chaser pumps out 1,600 horsepower—and it's street-legal
The new Koenigsegg Jesko Absolut has a serious problem: It’s hard to fully grasp, since its numbers, capability, and engineering are so otherworldly. Think about interstellar distances—it’d take the fastest spacecraft ever launched, the New Horizons spacecraft, 78,000 years to reach our closest stellar neighbor. You can read that number, but you can’t really grasp its significance. What happens when you put 1,600 horsepower into a 3,064-pound hypercar with its maximum downforce reduced to just 330 pounds?
Presumably, you get a bunch of fine leather checkbooks popping open as the well-heeled race to acquire the fastest Koenigsegg ever made. In fact, the Swedish company promises it’ll never even attempt to make a faster road car, ever. Which begs the question, how fast is the fastest? The company doesn’t even hazard a guess, simply and boldly stating that it’s ready to do a top-speed run when the time is right and a location is available and that it’ll crush any challenger, guaranteed.
That’s swagger. But maybe it’s appropriate. The Jesko Absolut is, after all, a top-speed special. As we noted above, it makes the same power as last year’s Jesko, but where that car was a road-legal track special, the Absolut trades the handling bonus of extreme downforce for the sleekness of speed. Note that the regular Jesko’s massive wing is gone, replaced by two vertical fins that the company says are inspired by an F-15 fighter jet and improve high-speed lateral stability. It should be noted that the Saab 37 Viggen fighters that used to occupy Koenigsegg’s headquarters are single-fin jobs. Maybe they’re saving that design element for an even sleeker Jesko variant.
Other changes also improve the aerodynamics, like the extended bodywork that juts out about three inches farther in back. The front splitter is gone, as are the side winglets, and the rear wheels sprout aero covers with a bit of classic Turbofan flavor.
The aero revisions are the result of thousands of hours of computer design and simulation, smoothing the Jesko’s lines to achieve the Absolut’s 0.278 drag coefficient. That’s on par with the figures claimed by BMW for the aerodynamically optimized i8 coupe (0.27 Cd), and not that far behind the number cited for the somewhat surprising production-car leader, the new Mercedes-Benz A-Class, at 0.22 Cd. The Bugatti Chiron, a car as superlative as the Jesko Absolut, is way behind at 0.36 Cd when it’s placed in Top Speed mode.
The Jesko Absolut is no stripped-down land-speed racer, though. Its suspension is softer than the regular Jesko’s, as it has to combat less downforce. That frees up room in the front to stow the roof panel, which wasn’t possible in the Jesko. Incidentally, this makes the ride a bit more “streetable,” the company says, and it’s still plenty fun on track. With much less downforce, there’s clearly a smaller cornering envelope, but that’s not really the point.
What’s not different is the powertrain, which does carry over from the larger-winged Jesko with no changes. It’s a 5.0-liter V-8 fed by two turbochargers, and that 1,600-hp figure is rated on E85. Give it regular pump gas and the power drops to a still monumental 1,280 horses and 1,106 lb-ft of torque. It channels power through the company’s novel nine-speed multi-clutch unit. We didn’t say dual-clutch, because this unit uses seven clutches, which the company says enables the Jesko models to shift from any gear to any other in a remarkably short interval.
Again, you can read those facts and numbers, but it’s tough to make them sink in. That’s why we hope that another automaker will throw down the gauntlet and challenge the Jesko Absolut to a top-speed throwdown. Seeing the run, finding out the verified top speed, hearing its wailing V-8 Doppler shift as it whips past onto the horizon will help us wrap our merely human brains around it.