KTM X-Bow is finally here!

Mental racer for the road lands in Australia, fully road legal

by TIM ROBSON

IT’S TAKEN longer than expected, but Austrian motorcycle experts KTM has finally worked out how to get its first four-wheeler, the X-Bow, into Australia.

Starting at $169,990 plus on-road costs, the Austrian-built X-Bow R is limited to 25 units a year under the Specialist and Enthusiast Vehicle Scheme (SEVS), and it’s coming through Sydney-based Lotus importer Sydney Sports Cars (SSC).

Just two dealers will sell the car; SSC’s store in the Sydney suburb of Artarmon, as well as Brisbane sports car retailer Motorline.

The cars even have a two-year, unlimited kilometre warranty.

KTM has sold 1000 X-Bows worldwide since 2007, and offers the X-Bow in standard R, souped up RR and touring GT specs. Only the R has been homologated for Australia, but there are option packs to tweak the car up to RR spec and beyond.

Price and purpose wise, the $189,000 Nissan GT-R and Porsche’s Boxster S at $143,100 are really the only serious competitors, though the incoming Lotus Exige 350 will also run it close.

The process to get approval for SEVS required SSC to crashtest a vehicle, but the biggest single change made to the car for Australia was the addition of a seatbelt warning light.

“There are certain criteria to meet before the car can sit the SEVS scheme, then it’s up to us to go and prove compliance,” Lee Knappett, the founder of SSC said.

“We’ve met all of these requirements, and this car has full European approval, including the more recognised ECE approvals.

Unfortunately a couple of the

ADRs didn’t match up with the ECEs, even though they are closely aligned, so we went ahead and did crash testing to ADR specifications.”

Needless to say, it passed. “We had to raise the ride height to 100mm from 90mm, and add tyre and fuel consumption stickers, as well as the seatbelt light. That’s it,” said Lee.

The crashed car was repaired after the test, and is actually still used by SSC as a demonstrator.

The X-Bow R is built around a carbon fibre tub with a deformable crash structure module on the front and adjustable A-arm suspension at all four corners.

A small deflector screen acts as a windscreen, and there’s no way to fit a roof. SSC will supply the X-Bow with a pair of multi-use helmets equipped with Bluetooth intercoms. A helmet isn’t actually required by law, but it’s probably not a bad idea on a longer trip.

There’s no boot or storage in the X-Bow, either, so pack lightly.

Inside, the X-Bow has fixed seating for two, with Recaro-supplied seat padding. The steering wheel is detachable and is adjustable for both reach and rake, and fourpoint, three-inch wide fixed racing harnesses are supplied for the driver and passenger.

An Audi-sourced, mid-mounted EA888 2.0-litre turbocharged fourcylinder motor that makes 220kW and 400Nm supplies the grunt.

KTM reckons the 790kg car can zip from rest to 100km/h in 3.9 seconds, brake back to zero in 32 metres, and return 8.3 litres per 100km over a combined cycle.

A VW Group six-speed manual gearbox with a limited-slip diff and a short-shift kit is standard, with an Australian-made Holinger six-speed sequential gearbox optional.

In a patented design, the KTM’s pedal box can be adjusted easily via a lever on the floor that slides the whole pedal arrangement back and forth. Apparently McLaren is keen to buy the idea.

KTM X-BOW 5 little things

1 CARBON FEVER

All body panels are carbon fibre, and can add 200kg of downforce at 200km/h. For reference, a Supercar adds about 140kg at similar speeds.

2 VW BITS

Of the 760-odd parts in the X-Bow, about 130 are VW Group bits, including the engine, stop/start button, handbrake arrangement and manual gearbox. The automatic option is actually made by Aussies Holinger. 2

3 COCKPIT VIEW

A small dash displays a digital speed reading, engine parameters and gear position, as well as lap times that can be recorded via a button on the steering wheel. 3

4 SPRINGY BITS

The front springs and dampers operate via a rocker arm arrangement, while the rear has a more traditional coilover design. Fixed-rate anti-roll bars are used front and rear on the R, but adjustable items can be optioned. In fact, the options brochure is three times thicker than the actual sales version.

5 RUBBERED UP

Brembo calipers on steel rotors – and 17-inch rims up front and 18-inch rims on the rear shod with Michelin Super Sport tyres – round out the chassis specs.