ts streamlined creator Christian von Koenigsegg has been driving the Regera up until now, and I’ve been in the passenger seat, listening reverently to his description of the project. And having my mind blown in slow motion. I want to understand the Regera, but I can’t – at least not entirely. No gearbox? Hydraulic couplings? F1-style batteries? It’s no enormous surprise the price looks like a barcode (US$1.89m if you're curious, or around AU$2.6m. And that’s pre-taxes…) The time comes to swap seats and while we’re spared the riot act for a 1119kW hypercar, von Koenigsegg does give one warning. "Do not use the headlight flasher,” he says, sternly. “We’ve replaced that function with ignition-off, where everything will be switched off, even at speed." Imagine the scenario: a polite flash of the headlights before overtaking a slower motorist leads to the world's only Regera going dead, right at the crucial moment.
This is the exact same car that took the Geneva Motor Show by storm in 2015. Normally, a carmaker's concept cars are not capable of more than walking speed, but this one is different. Koenigsegg's tiny size means its concepts have to do double duty as development mules once their show duties are done, so this Regera has to be able to hit about 400 km/h and be a test bed for a completely new chapter in terms of design and technology for Koenigsegg. But it's not the finished article. The red Regera displayed at this year's Geneva show was not merely a repainted version of this prototype, but almost a totally new car thanks to some 3000 changes. As such, this is not the definitive verdict on the new Regera, rather a taste of Koenigsegg's imaginative new mechanicals.
Some would call them revolutionary, beginning with the transmission which has just one forward gear. With no gearbox to operate, the steering wheel mounted paddles simply control drive direction: left for reverse, right for forward, or pull both simultaneously for Park. Drive engaged, the car moves I forward using a combination of electricity and the internal combustion engine. With no gearbox, at low speeds the petrol engine feeds its power through a patented lightweight hydraulic coupling dubbed HydraCoup.
Von Koenigsegg explains further: "The electric motors, placed after the hydraulic clutch, are [the] major power sources until the crankshaft and rear axle are running at the same speed, as the internal combustion engine is in 'seventh gear' from the start, speed-wise."
From behind the wheel, even with the petrol engine virtually at idle the speed slowly increases.
The hydraulic coupling generally 'locks up' at around 50km/h – felt through a barely perceptible jerk – though this can vary depending on throttle angle and speed. "[We] installed new software late last night," explains von Koenigsegg. "I think it locks the clutch a little too late now. And that little twitch you felt at the lock, we intend to remove that completely."
This new technology can be a little difficult to get your head around, but the boss does his best to break it down. "You are the first journalist in the world to
drive a production car with an internal combustion engine connected directly to the rear wheels," says von Koenigsegg. "The Regera is no plug-in hybrid in the usual sense. We only use electricity when we want to change the speed quickly, during braking or when reversing. At low speeds, the majority of the power comes from electricity, but we also take energy from the combustion engine into the hydraulic clutch and let it get torque converted. However, the electric power is available all the way up to about 400km/h, but with diminishing effect over 300km/h."
With the drivetrain locked in Direct Drive, a push of the accelerator brings immediate, blazing acceleration. Eradicating the gearbox reduces powertrain losses by around 50 per cent, which in the Regera's case means about an extra 37kW reaching those enormous 345/30 rear tyres, though today the car is running on Michelin winter rubber measuring 225/45 R19 front and 285/45 R19 rear.
With 820kW/1280Nm from the 5.0-litre twin-turbo V8 augmented by a further 520kW/900Nm from the three electric motors, it's little wonder the acceleration focuses the mind. Combined, the two power sources produce a maximum of 1119kW/2115Nm, for a faintly ludicrous power-to-weight ratio of 704kW/tonne. A Porsche 911 Turbo S, for example, makes do with 267kW/tonne.
The cabin is noisy, a result of this prototype lacking any catalytic converters and the exhaust valves being permanently open. The 'fishtail' pipes are constructed by Slovenian exhaust specialists Akrapovic and end in two narrow pipes that form part of the venturi tunnel.
The large central chrome exhaust actually houses the cooling fans for the electric motors. "It’s only when the car stops after a hard driving session that some hot air will come out of here," explains von Koenigsegg.
Approaching a roundabout, lifting off begins to charge the batteries through regeneration, however the production car's system will be much more powerful. The prototype uses the best available commercial batteries, but the production Regera utilises Formula 1 battery technology, which can be charged far more aggressively. "We can regenerate 200kW, which is about three times more than any other commercial battery pack," says von Koenigsegg.
"Unlike other cars in this category, we have the same amount of charge left in the battery after a flat-out lap on a racetrack."
The slowdown has fully charged the batteries, however as I begin to accelerate again the car starts to move erratically. Von Koenigsegg tells me to pull over and hit the headlight flasher to shut the car down immediately. The newly installed software has misread the situation and doesn't have the ability to soft shutdown charging when the battery is full. Von Koenigsegg assures me it is a completely harmless fault and we activate EV mode to drain the batteries slightly. "We intend to offer EV mode on customer cars, but it's mostly designed to be used in the garage, or maybe if you come home late,” he says. “We have chosen not to type-approve Regera as a plug-in hybrid; it would take at least another six months of institutional tests. Theoretically, the Regera is able to deliver super-low CO2 values, but it is not a priority for customers and not why we electrified the car."
Upon our return to Koenigsegg's airfield test track the software hiccup is quickly fixed by software engineer Alex Olsson, though it could also have been done wirelessly as the Regera is constantly connected to the 4G network. This Regera has been running around 20–30 hours per week since returning from the Geneva Motor Show last year. The number of
kilometres is hard to say, as the trip computer has been reset or replaced several times. This continual development has led to those 3000 changes which have been made to the final production version.
Unfortunately, as we reach Koenigsegg's test area the rain begins in earnest, lowering the grip level significantly. And the traction control system is not incorporated yet. Still, this is not an opportunity to let slip, if you'll pardon the pun. The Regera driving experience cannot be compared to any other car. It's perhaps closest to a Tesla Model S, which also has no gearbox, or a car equipped with a CVT, while also being not really like either. Where a CVT will hold a certain rev point and wait for road speed to catch up, the Regera's Direct Drive system means once past the hydraulic coupling's lock-up point engine revs and road speed are directly correlated.
If the car is scaling an incline the rear electric motors can compensate for the rise to maintain acceleration, and at speeds below 200km/h pulling the right-hand steering wheel paddle will engage the HydraCoup and allow some torque slip, increasing the combustion engine's revs which subsequently increases acceleration. Above 200km/h the twin-turbo V8 is revving at more than 4000rpm and generating so much power when supported by the electric motors that maximum acceleration is achieved without any torque multiplication effect being required.
With a long, clear airstrip I apply a healthy dose of throttle and two long black strips of molten rubber appear behind the car in response. The electric motors supply their full 900Nm from zero rpm and this is supported by the 800Nm the combustion engine delivers just off idle. But the hydraulic coupling is also open and multiplying the torque, resulting in around 2500Nm assaulting the tyres from a standstill.
"It is possible to spin the rear wheels all the way up to 280km/h on dry surfaces, with no interrupting gear changes, of course," smiles von Koenigsegg.
Under hard acceleration the noise is almost deafening and the power nothing short of breathtaking. And uninterrupted. Nail the throttle and you'll be swept all the way to 400km/h in one almighty surge. Acceleration is more or less linear: Koenigsegg claims the first 100km/h take just 2.8sec, 100-200km/h 3.8sec, 200-300km/h 4.3sec before the push finally begins to subside above 300km/h, an extra 9.1sec needed to hit the magic 400. Power has never been this brutal, efficient and easy to use.
I've driven several Koenigseggs, from the first CC8S to the latest Agera. While the earlier models had a more reclined seating position, like a Formula 1 car, from the CCX onward both space and ergonomics improved. Sure, this low-slung hypercar still requires some agility to enter or leave the cabin, but every time I come to Koenigsegg’s HQ in the sleepy Swedish town of Angelholm, refinement improves. That said, in this prototype there are still some interesting quirks. I roll up to photographer James Holm and intend to lower the window for a chat, only I can't find the button.
"Here," says von Koenigsegg, pointing to the steering wheel switch that toggles audio source. "Our new centre console will get a completely different design with buttons placed in a Koenigsegg shield. For now, however, the electric window switches borrow the steering wheel controls for the phone and stereo."
On this prototype's medium damper setting, ride quality is decent – you can leave the kidney belt behind – and both the front and rear can be raised via hydraulics for speed humps and driveways. In addition, the hydraulics also enable the Regera's
Direct Drive the big diff erence here party trick: the ability to operate all the body closures – engine cover, bonnet and doors – via remote or smartphone. Following the acceleration tests, von Koenigsegg is insistent I test the chassis balance. With few real corners on the airfield, some sharp turns have to suffice. The steering is heavy with little power assistance but there is genuine mechanical feel, even on these winter tyres.
The sheer scale of the changes mean the production Regera will be a very different animal from the prototype we've driven. New suspension settings are continually being trialled; the entire rear frame has been redesigned to make it 20 per cent lighter, and the Power Distribution Unit (PDU) is 10 times smaller than the first iteration. The Formula 1-style battery pack saves 25kg while the inverter has halved in size but doubled in capacity.
The interior will receive more sound-proofing, more storage compartments and inductive smartphone charging, while the doors and mirrors will adopt sensors to ensure the remotely-operated dihedral doors don't open themselves into obstacles. The car's 4G connectivity also means any future software updates can be uploaded to any of the 80 planned customer cars anywhere in the world.
Koenigsegg's never-ending quest for improvement is perfectly illustrated by a small heat shield near the rear brakes. "Forget that," says von Koenigsegg. "It was made to protect the rubber bushings on the wishbones from drying due to the heat from the brakes. Then we decided we could remould our uprights in a way that the bushings were covered. Hey presto, we avoid the shield." It's this commitment that has allowed this tiny Swedish company to go from a producer of brutally fast but fairly conventional supercars to the creator of one of the most revolutionary, not to mention fastest, cars the world has ever seen. M
BODY 2-door, 2-seat coupe DRIVE rear-wheel ENGINES 5000cc V8, 32v, twin-turbo; 3 electric motors BORE/STROKE 92.0 x 95.25mm COMPRESSION 9.3:1 POWER 820kW @ 7800rpm TORQUE 1280Nm @ 4100rpm ELECTRIC 520kW/900Nm COMBINED 1119kW/2115Nm POWER/WEIGHT 704kW/tonne TRANSMISSION Direct Drive WEIGHT 1590kg FRONT SUSPENSION wishbones, active dampers, coils, anti-roll bar REAR SUSPENSION wishbones, active dampers, coils, anti-roll bar L/W/H 4560/2050/1110mm WHEELBASE 2662mm TRACKS N/A STEERING hydraulically-assisted rack-and-pinion FRONT BRAKES 397mm ventilated/drilled ceramic discs, 6-piston calipers REAR BRAKES 380mm ventilated/drilled ceramic discs, 4-piston calipers WHEELS 19 x 9.75-inch (f); 20 x 12.5-inch (r) carbonfi bre TYRES 275/35 ZR19 (f); 345/30 ZR20 (r) Michelin PRICE AS TESTED US$1.89m PROS Power beyond imagining; ease of use CONS Limited production run