Many will see the title and get excited, only to wonder what is going on as there is a futuristic transformer like four-wheeled vehicle under scrutiny here rather than a mode of transport consisting of some metal tubing with an engine, suspension and two wheels.
This confusion is allowed however as the Austrian makers are renowned across the globe for building motorbikes and are likely best known for their off-road and all-terrain bikes rather than the sports bikes which they also produce.
However KTM have dipped into the sports car market with the X-Bow and thanks to Rally School Ireland (RSI) in Scotstown, Co. Monaghan we got to experience first-hand what this crazy looking car is all about and what it is capable of on track.
RSI own the only KTM X-Bow on the emerald isle having become a KTM agent and service centre, and it comes in the GT guise which adds a curved windscreen, wiper and small doors to protect you from the elements and I think you would agree that it looks fantastic!
This mega wide, space age styled sports car features a carbon composite ‘tub’ to which everything else attaches in varying ways that I won’t even comprehend. Despite the highly purposeful looks, the KTM X-Bow is road legal with lights and mirrors along with road legal Michelin Pilot Sport 3 tyres.
With the vast array of wings, diffusers, splitters, spoilers and air ducts the mind does wonder what sort of reaction the X-Bow would receive on the open road, especially with its front adjustable suspension assembly being very prominent just in front of the windscreen.
Front suspension and steering components are exposed to be seen in all their glory with massive side air ducts towards the rear of the car drawing air through substantial radiators and charge coolers.
The rear of the X-Bow is a mass of carbon, shaped in ways that will expel air in mass volume whilst assisting in keeping the X-Bow firmly planted to the tarmac whilst an alloy framework acts as a bracket for holding upper body panels, light cluster and number plate.
Inside the X-Bow is a ‘cosy’ place to be, for want of a word and the glorious weave of the carbon composite tub takes over the interior and is absolutely fantastic looking and I guess acts as a reminder to the type of vehicle it is.
Recaro had the task of carving two weatherproof seats out of some sort of weatherproof and supportive material and these set into the rear of the tub perfectly and offer great support with the four point harness buckled up tight.
Some colour is brought inside with the orange KTM logo between the seats as well as the stitching on the gear gaiter being the same orange. Just beside the gear stick is a hand brake whilst the centre console coming towards the seats houses the start and stop buttons and well as switchgear for the wipers.
The leather steering wheels is also equipped with a mass of buttons and these include lights, horn, indicators, stopwatch control button and buttons to switch between various modes. A lot of these functions once activated are displayed via the screen bolted to the centre of the dash which has a great question on it…
‘Ready to Race?’
Due to the fact that the seats, if you could call them that, are in a fixed position of being bonded to the tub there needs to be a way for adjustability to suit varying sizes of driver and as such KTM have created a fully adjustable steering wheel as well as a pedal box that slides back and forward to keep the X-Bow versatile.
I usually go into load space and infotainment at this point in my reviews and for the X-Bow this is easy as the infotainment comes in the form of boost, lots of boost in fact and the load space is pretty much whatever you can fit into the pockets of the clothing you are wearing whilst driving.
Put together in a purpose built factory in Austria, the X-Bow has been in production since 2008 and has a favourite engine of mine bolted just behind the seats. The engine in question is the very reliable and highly tuneable 2.0 TFSi unit from the VAG Stable.
This engine can be found throughout VW, Seat, Skoda and Audi models in varying states of tune with a couple of different turbochargers also and as you would expect the X-Bow gets the top spec engine/turbo combination to produce 300bhp, with I would estimate around 320lb/ft.
This engine is accompanied by a six speed manual gearbox that does the job perfectly, though I would be very keen to see if some sort of VAG DSG ‘box was to fit as that would improve the driving experience a lot in my mind as it is one of the best twin clutch ‘boxes on the market and could add paddle shift.
For a rear engine, rear wheel drive car that weighs in at less than 800kg, this engine is more than enough and to look at the car and hear these figures you would be right for thinking that the X-Bow is going to be a bit of a bull in a china shop type affair when it comes to taming it.
However the X-Bow is surprisingly well mannered with very progressive power that allows the driver to be in full control without the feeling of imminent death should anything start to get out of control, which it did at times during my track test.
During my time in the car I experienced a wet track for five minutes or so before it dried up and I could fully explore the potential of the X-Bow and with some filming being done whilst I was driving, David from RSI was incredibly encouraging when it came to driving in a flamboyant way, all in the name of creating great footage and I will admit the X-Bow was very easy to drive in such a way.
In the wet some understeer when cornering soon turned into very enjoyable and controllable oversteer whilst I got caught out a few times shifting down gears, under braking when the rear of the car was light and the diff would lock, this was soon sorted with much smoother approach on the gearbox.
I guess the X-Bow is the equivalent of a very large, very fast go-kart a phenominal thing and I can honestly say that the X-Bow provided the most fun I have ever had with my clothes on!
The KTM X-Bow is the closest thing most people will ever get to a race car and this one is available for you to drive at the RSI complex less than two hours’ drive from both Belfast and Dublin so get booked in with the team and experience it for yourself…
Words and Photos: Graham Curry