The Supercar Corral at the FIA GT round in Portugal wasn't exactly overflowing. On the Friday, but one car sat there. Up by the fence. A utility van parked incongruously next to it. Where were the others? But the single car was a Koenigsegg CC8S. Having the gall to park a Porsche or Ferrari next to that is more of a challenge. Do you dare put your puny supercar up against me? Who will park next to me?!
Koenigsegg isn't a name that rolls of the tongue, or one that has a cadence to it that automatically associates itself with sleek supercar chic in the way of, say, the Italian brands, but Koenigsegg is a different kind of company making a different kind of extreme car. This is the first one I've seen in the wild, and every time I walked past it over the weekend I paused just those few seconds longer than the last time. Like Pagani, you see one so infrequently – and even then mostly only in games – that it ss easy to forget they're actually real.
There's a purity to its lines, a simplicity that I find is somewhat lacking in many of today's hypercars – where aero flicks, wings, splitters and grills dominate and clutter. Come Saturday, another car had parked up – the graceful Jaguar XK120 from 60 years ago seemed the perfect partner for the CC8S.
After a run of unique prototypes, the CC series was turned into a production car with the introduction of the CC8S. However, 'production' is a very relative term: the number of CC8Ss on the road doesn't trouble double-figures.
On its blunt nose is the Koenigsegg badge: this is based on company founder Christian von Koenigsegg's family coat of arms, which dates back to the 12th century.
For the fact fans, the chassis is a 62kg semi-monocoque made from pre-impregnated carbon fibre with honeycomb reinforcement for added stiffness.
The front brakes feature 34cm ventilated disks, the rear 31.5cm, sitting inside bespoke Koenigsegg rims – I'm a big fan of the industrial-looking telephone-dial alloys. The CC8S will stop from 100kph in just 30m. Ohlins Racing pushrod shocks are matched with electronically controlled ride height to keep the big Michelin boots in contact with the road.
No messy aero on the nose, just a sculpted low-drag body to magic the air out of the CC8S's path.
Even the even the rear is relatively unostentatious. A minimal splitter and unobtrusive exhaust; but hidden under the rear deck is the monster: a supercharged 4.7-litre cast aluminium DOHC V8 with carbon cam covers, putting out over 650bhp – this propels the CC8S to 242mph. I think that's just about acceptable.
Acceleration has been criticised – if that's the right word to use – as its 0-100kph time is a mere 3.5 seconds. But as Top Gear fans will know, this isn't a static figure: rather like Pagani, Koenigsegg love a challenge. Give them a number to beat, and the team of Swedish engineers will be set to work to achieve – and likely beat it.
For a time the car was the fastest street-legal car available and held the Guiness World Record for the Most Powerful Production Engine, plus the lap records on the Top Gear Test Track and at the Nurburgring. But of course the competition doesn't stand still in this forever war of escalating speeds and stats. Pagani in particular seem to have taken the Koenigsegg as a personal slight, and have beseiged the latter two trophies; Bugatti's Veyron saw to the former.
Coincidentaly, the Jag was also the fastest production car upon its launch in 1948 – though you had to take the windscreen of the XK to get it to top speed.
At the time I wondered what the ghost sticker was on the rear deck – it seemed a strange addition. But it's actually the insignia of the F10 Angelholm squadron of the Swedish Airforce: Koenigsegg's headquarters used to be a base for Saab Gripen fighter jets. Talking of Saab, Koenigsegg almost bought the company from General Motors back in 2009, but the negotiations dragged on and they eventually withdrew – the company ended up being bought by Spyker cars instead, though the company has still limped from financial crisis to financial crisis. At least their Rallycross car is cool.
The doors? Dihedral actuation doors. That means they rotate up and forward at the same time – it looks better than it sounds, but god help you if the kerb is low where you've parked.
The roof of the CC8S is a detachable carbon panel: it slots into the bonnet space if you want to go topless and do some serious damage to you hairstyle. The cockpit is sumptuous leather studded with understated switch-gear and a short-throw shifter.
This is the view most people will see, for sure. Well done to the owner for actually getting his one out on the real-live road, rather than keeping it locked up in air-conditioned misery in some garage.
My favourite thing about this car? It looks like it's been carved out of a solid block of metal. Everything looks solid and purposeful. It might not have a name that conjures up raging bulls or wind gods – though that doesn't hinder the MP4-12c either – and I think it's a bit of a shame that the new Koenigsegg Agera R is as ostentatious as it is, but this one car was more than capable of filling up the supercar corral on its own. Jaguar aside, of course…