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KTM X-Bow in super test Radical concept drives at GT3 level

Rossen Gargolov
KTM X-Bow in the super test on the racetrack
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We want to leave the well over 100 world championship titles in motorcycle racing aside: the half dozen victories alone The Dakar Rally must have resulted in the image of man in general and that of the sporty-oriented in particular at K TM is composed completely differently than for example at a traditional vehicle manufacturer like - let's say - Toyota.

Radical reduction - KTM X-Bow without ABS, ESP, airbag and brake booster

Whether in Mattighofen, Austria, or Graz, someone has probably ever heard of the current threat, which can be caused by slipping floor mats and jammed gas pedals? Okay, floor mats belong in the KTM X-Bow not included in the scope of equipment. But has anyone there ever thought about the physical and psychological damage it can cause to motorists if common protective devices are withheld from them, for example if they are exposed to the rigors of wind and weather without a windshield and side window?

How do those responsible for KTM intend to counter this if they are accused of failing to provide assistance due to blatant disregard for the status quo? After all, the first automobile that KTM put on its wheels with the support of the Italian racing chassis specialist Dallara and the Salzburg designer Gerald Kiska is not only on the road without traction control and ESP - ABS is also not on board. Not to mention power assistance for the steering or brake booster.

Do you want to expose customers, who are increasingly disconnected from electronic driving safety systems and increasingly decoupled from personal responsibility, to the terrifying adventures of land-based mobility all alone and unprotected? And that even without future prospects, for example in the form of a hybrid and /or electronic drive? Yes - you want to.

Clear statement: only men ride the KTM X-Bow

According to the traditional KTM motto 'Ready to race', Austrians who are completely unencumbered in the automotive sector act according to the following, in the The maxim common in the motorcycle scene: 'Weight reduces performance and impairs the driving experience.' Consequently, the KTM does not have X-Bow also everything that Serves convenience. The radical construction without a roof, the abandonment of the windshield and the omission of heating and air conditioning as well as entertainment and control electronics are intended to enable concentration on a driving experience that can otherwise only be found on a motorcycle. So nothing for wimps.

And certainly nothing for people who hope for image transfers or who are driven by arrogance. According to KTM Marketing, the typical KTM X-Bow customers are almost exclusively men, between 35 and 50 years old, who have a good income, are very interested in motorsport and already have several vehicles. Yes, if that is the case ... But even this select group of customers has to overcome certain hurdles before entering the X-Bow: First of all, the buyer must be at least 24 years old. And to ensure that he can deal responsibly with such a purist hardcore athlete, driver training as part of the so-called 'Drive Orange' program from KTM is the order of the day.

The fact that this courageous concept comes at a time that is characterized by increasingly narrow financial leeway is a fact that of course makes the research Austrian difficult to cope with. The originally planned annual production of up to 2,000 copies has long been said goodbye - not without articulating the firm will to stick with this alternative sports car.

To doubt the future viability of the concept would also mean carelessly leaving one of the most important levers of the future unused. Ultimately, it will be the subject of lightweight construction that, alongside the alternative drive concepts currently in focus, will dominate the automotive future. To have gone so far in this regard, even if it is only to serve the pure, unadulterated sportiness, is a privilege that KTM, as a newcomer to the automotive scene, can proudly claim for itself.

The KTM X-Bow is the perfect training and fun device

Respect also goes to those who take the trouble and sometimes the stress with a helmet, gloves and windbreaker Defiantly and confidently face the unpredictable weather conditions - or better said: to race towards it. Because as soon as the unpleasant aspects - see purchase price - have been forgotten and the fact that you have to do without luggage because there is no trunk, the certainty of the upcoming driving pleasure has been forgotten to be able to offer an extremely wide range of development opportunities.

With all the ergonomic care that can be seen in the cockpit on closer inspection: the close collaboration with theKTM X-Bow does not set itself immediately, but only after a somewhat longer period of getting used to it. The change from a modern, more comfort-oriented sports car to the roof and windshield-free one, reinforced with strong roll bars and clad with 'floating' body parts, is a step into a completely different world. One that allows completely new perspectives and at the same time forces an unfamiliar approach.

The fact that the driver is fully in the center of this jagged-looking environment, which is determined by recognizable logic, is less due to his deep seated position in the center between the axles and more to his role as the unrestricted determinant of the scenery. Nobody helps him here if the stern threatens to break out. Nothing and no one intervenes to regulate if the guest push is too abrupt or the braking impulse is too strong. If you have the size to admit your own mistakes and are ready to draw the right conclusions, the KTM X-Bow is a perfect training and fun device - provided you are not afraid of the effort, at least the first exploration tours, mainly on a completed course to do. The dynamic driving talents are at a level, especially with sports tires, that would be viewed as a malicious affront by other road users in the vicinity of the public road - especially by the executive.

A roadster weighing just 858 kilograms

The lateral acceleration values ​​of approximately 1.5 g - as was consistently achieved in the super test in Hockenheim and on the Nordschleife, are after all so pronounced that they can pass as real neck muscle workout. And because of the lack of power assistance, the holding forces on the steering wheel are such that dumbbell training is completely unnecessary if the daily KTM X-Box riding is not neglected.

The speed of reaction of the two-seater to those initiated at the steering wheel A change of direction could easily overwhelm all those who have not yet experienced the hard, direct driving dynamics as they can be represented by a formula racing car. The turn-in takes place without delay. Just as directly and unfiltered, the roadster weighing just 858 kilograms with a full tank also shows what it is ready to accept - and what is not. The limit is extremely high, but the references to approaching it are brief, concise and unmistakable. Just as the state of understeer has been removed from the KTM racer's driving program, it also consistently lacks the commitment with which other, more moderate representatives of his field announce their driving dynamics limit.

In the situation of one It is best not to maneuver into any possible counter swing, because this is difficult to close due to the extremely direct and harsh reactions of the KTM X-Bowparry. However, if you manage to keep a tail that is pushing slightly at the limit under control - or better: use it strategically, you will be rewarded with breathtaking cornering speeds. The co-pilot's grin will not go away either, but only if he is also equipped with a well-fitting full face helmet.

Anyone who compromises in this regard will quickly lose their clear view at high speeds because the airflow and the turbulence developing over the front attack the head with force. Otherwise, the crew is housed in the middle of the undisguised, not to say bare, carbon monocoque, solid, immovable and - with restrictions - also suitable for long distances.

The X-Bow is on the road with a power-to-weight ratio of 3.6 kilograms per horsepower

Thanks to the mechanically adjustable pedals and the multifunction steering wheel that can be adjusted in both planes, an individual arrangement can be made in a few simple steps. The fear of being softened in the rain by the water that may collect in the cockpit tub turns out to be unfounded thanks to the well-functioning drainage. If the few splashes of rain that come over the railing roll off the crew as well as the 'interior' of the KTM X-Box, then nothing stands in the way of a satisfactory alliance.

The realization that the enjoyment of open-top driving in the wet is nowhere near the quality experienced in sunshine and dry roads is not new in itself, but is of much greater importance in this extremely qualified environment. The severely limited grip level of the sports tires in curves is less nerve-wracking - because it is easier to control - than the braking behavior in wet conditions, which is reminiscent of a tightrope act. Without ABS support, an extremely sensitive dosage on the pedal is required if an adequate deceleration is to be achieved without locking the front wheels.

Such negative consequences from the conceptual escalation can only get over those who are receptive to the truly inspiring aspects that open up on the other side: the possibility of realizing lap times on the small course in Hockenheim, for example that are on par with the current Porsche 911 GT3. And that as a representative of a performance class that is generally no longer associated with top sporting performance. The solution to the riddle: Despite its comparatively modest-sounding power rating of 240 hp, the KTM X-Bow competed in the test thanks to its minimum weight with a power-to-weight ratio of 3.6 kilograms per hp.

The 240 PS TFSI from Audi provides pressure

The two-liter TFSI turbo from the Audi shelf, which works in the back of the crew, is basically inconspicuous, although very effectiveScene. No acoustic fireworks are to be expected from it. On the other hand, he has a sprinting and pulling power that demands the greatest respect from the opponents on the track - provided the straights are short and the bends sharp enough. On long straights such as the Döttinger Höhe, the Austrian non-conformist, who is much more geared towards downforce than slippery, fights with blunt weapons.

Its Vmax - almost 220 km /h - is reached relatively quickly there. But since the way to the next bend is long and there is nothing to add in terms of performance, the ledge that has been driven out to the gallows head melts like the proverbial ice in the glowing midday sun. There is definitely something communicative about the long straights: At the end you meet again and again, wave to each other and bask in the benevolence that always flies towards you in the KTM X-Bow.


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