KTM X-Bow at the ‘Ring (2008)

Published: 29 October 2007

Kronreif, Trunkenpolz, Mattighofen!

Yes, or KTM for short. This is the X-Bow: it’s Austrian motorcycle manufacturer KTM’s first road car, and one of four planned four-wheeled vehicles by 2015. It’s set to go into production in early 2008, with 240bhp courtesy of Audi. We’ve caught the car during development work at the Nurburgring, and as this car is set to be a trackday star, there couldn’t be a more appropriate place to find it. ‘It’s a kind of Lotus Super Seven for the 21st century,’ KTM’s engineering boss told CAR Online. ‘It’s radically modern, very light and extremely fast.’

So just how is the KTM X-Bow a modern day Seven?

The X-Bow has a carbonfibre monocoque, and it’s certainly striking in the, er, carbon. It looks just like a solid lump of the stuff, albeit a lightweight lump: the car should tip the scales at 721kg. That’s in part because there are no doors, windscreen, airbags, heater, or power assistance for the brakes or steering. There aren’t even any seats: the monocoque is moulded to form a couple of buckets which have some gel padding. A four-point harness helps hold you in place. Originally KTM had planned for Italian chassis manufacturer Dallara to make 100 launch editions cars, before switching production to Magna Steyr in Austria. However, such has been the interest in the car that KTM is building a new factory near Graz that will produce the X-Bow and quad bikes.

Will the X-Bow be quick then?

How does a 3.9 second run to 60mph grab you? Of course the X-bow will quick, and KTM has got into bed with the Volkswagen Group to make sure of it. The X-Bow has the 2.0-litre turbocharged engine from the Golf GTI/Audi TT, VW steering, and depending on your preference, a manual ‘box or DSG system from the Germans as well. The launch cars will have 240bhp at 6000rpm, and 221lb ft from 2200-4000rpm, while a hotter X-Bow with over 300bhp is under development. Brakes are by Brembo, the all-round double wishbones suspension is KTM’s own, and it’ll be yours for £31,650 plus tax (£37,189 for those in the UK). The first customer cars will be built in early 2008. It’ll be fully road legal in the UK, and plans are afoot to make sure the same can be said around the world, especially in the USA. And while you might be disappointed that it’ll top out at 135mph, the X-Bow will have 200kg of negative lift on both axles at 125mph thanks to its wind tunnel-tuned shaped.

So why is KTM building the X-Bow?

KTM is a manufacturer on a roll. Last year it built 84,000 bikes, which puts it only second to BMW in Europe, but it’s worried that motorcycle sales are in long-term decline and it wants to get into cars. So KTM is capitalising while it’s on the up. The X-Bow will cater for trackday enthusiasts, and unlike other potential machines that have come and gone, KTM has the financial support, and now the client interest, to make the X-Bow a success. They’ve even talked about buying Lotus in the near future. Now that would be an interesting move…

By Ben Pulman

CAR's editor-at-large, co-ordinator, tallboy