At 258 M.P.H., Swedish Dream Car Hits the U.S.

Ever wondered what it'd be like to take one of the world's fastest supercars around a track? Sure you have.

Anyone who's ever played a racing video game, picked up a copy of Car & Driver or simply spotted a Lamborghini on the street has had that dream.

Unfortunately, few of us ever get the chance to indulge our ultimate automotive fantasies. Most of us will never have the money to afford a Lamborghini or a Ferrari. And the world's ultimate supercars, like the McLaren F1 or the Bugatti Veyron, are so rare that very few of us will ever even see one in person.

So when I was offered the chance to not only see, but also drive, the newest supercar available on the U.S. market, it was a chance I couldn't pass up. And while the experience demonstrated my obvious limitations as a driver, it was something I won't forget for a long, long time.

The Swedish-made Koenigsegg CCX is an engineering marvel goes 0-60 mph in a blistering 3.1 seconds with an estimated top speed of almost 260 mph. The 806-horsepower, 2,200-pound carbon fibre Super Car runs the standing quarter mile in just nine seconds at 146 mph.

The powerful engine housed in the U.S. Koenigsegg CCX retains the incredible power and performance of the European CCR engine, which once held the Guinness Book of World Records title as the world's fastest production car ever.

A $695,000 'Bargain'

The Koenigsegg CCX is brand new to the American market. The first 30 or so will be shipped to their buyers over the course of 2007.

The owner of Exotic Cars in Las Vegas, Koenigsegg's exclusive U.S. dealer, assures me that at $695,000, it's a bargain. He points out that a Veyron, probably the CCX's closest competition in the supercar world, will run you around $1.2 million.

To help convince potential buyers of the car's value, a demo was unveiled earlier this week in Las Vegas. The manufacturer is billing it as "the fastest production car in the world," although its estimated top speed of around 258 m.p.h. has yet to be confirmed.

There happen to be only two places in the world where a car can be clocked at reaching that speed, and Volkswagen, which owns the competing Bugatti brand, owns one of them.

Koenigsegg's earlier iteration of the CCX -- the CCR -- earned a spot in The Guinness Book of World Records as the world's fastest production car ever. Bugatti's Veyron took that honor, and perhaps soon we'll see if the new car can win it back.

For those multi-millionaires who worry about the price of gas, the CCX gets 17 miles-per-gallon on the highway, 10 in the city, and presumably a lot less on the racetrack.

The statistics, however, are almost unnecessary. The car's beautiful carbon-fiber body screams "speed."

As I drove onto the grounds of the Las Vegas Motor Speedway for my test drive, I noticed some of America's finest fighter jets taking off and landing at the nearby Nellis Air Force base. It was quite a sight to behold, until I was distracted by the sight of the CCX winding its way through the Speedway's road course -- providing just as dramatic an image of grace, power and speed.

That sight was also my first indication of what was really in store for me. When I'd been invited to drive the car, I'd been expecting a large oval track where I'd be able to open it up and see what pushing 200 m.p.h. feels like.

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