- KTM X-Bow, 2008
An aggressive design and sporty potential: the KTM X-Bow is not merely a milestone in the KTM brand's more than 50-year history, it's also a new citation in the small, but elite segment of radical, lightweight sports cars. This exceptional position is the result of the concept: for their first car, KTM employs the finest materials, high-tech and the know-how of respected development partners such as Audi and Dallara. The result is a street-homologated sports car with racing technology, like an avantgarde, carbon fibre monocoque. Thanks to the basic version's light weight and the 177 kW (240 hp) Audi TFSI engine, the performance values of the KTM X-Bow outstrip those of super-sport cars with more than twice the power: with a deadweight of approx. 700 kilos, the KTM X-Bow accelerates to 100 kph in just 3.9 seconds.
But the KTM X-Bow isn't just a racing machine, even if it is going to accomplish spectacular performance feats on racing circuits. With its modern technologies and exceptional solutions, it's much more oriented towards sporty drivers who seek a purist's driving experience. By foregoing electronic assistants and today's standard comfort features, the X-Bow offers an unfiltered adventure - aided by its standalone wheels in the style of monoposto racing cars, transparent technology and the car's reduced concept, i.e. no roof, doors or windscreen. The sports car has only a 70-millimeter, transparent wind deflector. With all these unique features, driving the KTM X-Bow becomes an experience with an immediacy that otherwise can only be felt when riding a motorcycle.
The Next Step into the Future
For the Upper Austrian motorcycle manufacturer - Europe's second largest - the decision to expand its line of business into the automobile market was of great strategic significance. It was made possible by the company's extraordinarily dynamic growth over the past 15 years. Since 1992, KTM vehicle sales have risen an average of 21% each year, while the volume of sales even climbed to 25% each year. Today, KTM is the world's leading brand in the offroad segment and in recent years has successively expanded its model portfolio into the street sector. "Moving into the automotive sector is the logical continuation of this strategy. With the X-Bow, KTM can now offer the classic KTM driving experience to all those who don't have a motorcycle licence," says Stefan Pierer, CEO of the listed KTM Power Sports AG, explaining this investment in the company's future.
Carbon Fibre Monocoque: Racing Know-How from Dallara
Carbon fibre monocoques have been the Formula 1's safety net for years. On the road, this technology was formerly reserved for the elitist, supersports cars in the highest price classes. KTM would now like to be the first to offer this solution in a much more affordable environment.
KTM has thereby been able to call upon the expertise of its development partner, Dallara. These specialists from Varano (near Parma) in Northern Italy have long been acclaimed as carbon technology experts, from the conception to the production of components made of this light, yet rigid material. The monocoque developed for the KTM X-Bow is not only extremely robust it is also safe, thanks to an integrated crashbox. And yet it weighs only about 70 kilos and is therefore a crucial factor in the vehicle's spectacular performance.
The Engine: TFSI Technology from Audi
KTM was able to gain Audi AG as its partner in developing the drive unit. The four-cylinder TFSI engine represents the X-Bow's construction principles in an ingenious way: by featuring lightweight, high-performance and intelligent technologies.
The engine's outstanding attribute is its gasoline direct injection technology, FSI. In this case, it's combined with an exhaust turbocharger plus an intercooler. Thanks to FSI, the engine can utilize fuel better than one with ordinary intake manifold injection and it even gets by on less fuel in the frequently used partial load range.
The injection takes place at a pressure level between 30 and 110 bar, valves in the intake system direct the inflowing air into a cylindrical movement. A continuously variable intake camshaft ensures optimal cylinder charging at any speed. Two balancer shafts compensate the second order inertia forces and so guarantee superior, low-vibration operation.
The KTM X-Bow's long-stroking, four-valve engine delivers a powerful performance: 310 newton-metres of torque peaks at a level between 2200 and 4000 rpm. The peak performance of 177 kW (240 hp) is achieved at 6000 rpm. Even more powerful engine variations in the 300-horsepower range are planned at a later date.
The drive unit package is complemented by a manual 6-gear transmission, which is also made by VW and can be equipped with a limited-slip differential if so desired. An optional S tronic transmission will also be offered. The drive comes from the rear wheels.
The Chassis: Direct and Competent
The X-Bow's driving dynamics profit not only from the car's low centre of gravity but also from its superior chassis, which also draws on racing technology for its basic principles. Suspended on double triangular wishbone axles, the wheels feature suspension and damping elements by WP Suspension, with a pushrod arrangement up front.
The Italian brake manufacturer Brembo can also be proud of its reputation for excellence. KTM is also expanding this partnership (which began in the motorcycle sector) into the automobile realm. The X-Bow's powerful braking system consists of 305 mm discs at the front and 262 mm discs at the rear. The interaction of the vehicle's light weight, ideal balance, low centre of gravity and a 17-/18-inch tyre mix results in spectacular braking performance: when the brakes are warm, the KTM X-Bow needs only 33.1 metres to decelerate from 100 kph to a standstill.
The Aerodynamics: Exceptional Contact Pressure
The primary development goal for the KTM X-Bow was not attaining extreme final velocities, but in optimising the driving dynamics. The sports car is thereby aided by an ingenious aerodynamics arrangement, the result of many hours in Dallara's wind tunnel. The most vital element in this area is the underbody, which is equipped with a prominent diffusor at the rear. To make this diffusor work even more effectively, the linking points for the rear suspension were set as high as possible. This enables the KTM X-Bow to achieve a phenomenal downforce of about 200 kilograms at a speed of 200 km/h - about three times more than most other supersport cars.
In combination with the high-performance chassis, this fantastic downforce makes extreme curve speeds possible. The transversal acceleration of 1.23 g that can thus be attained noticeably surpasses the usual values achieved by street homologated sports cars.
The aerodynamic concept was a great challenge for the designer as well. It meant that sufficient air had to be channelled into the inlets located in the sides, behind the passengers. The radiator is also located at the rear of the vehicle, to avoid having to install longer, heavier cooling hoses. This mission was accomplished by using special air baffles, which are installed horizontally on the sides of the car so the passengers can also use them as boarding aids.
Safety: Racing Technology
The crucial component protecting the driver and the passenger is the solid, carbon fibre monocoque - safety technology straight from Formula 1. This structure is supplemented by a crashbox in the nose of the vehicle. The silencer, which is built into the rear of the car, was also designed to act as a crashbox; it absorbs the force of an impact to the rear of the vehicle.
The driver and passenger are also protected by four-point safety belts, which were inspired by the racing world. If so desired, this unit can be equipped with a fifth securing point. The two roll bars are clearly visible. They not only appear to be solid, they are skilfully integrated into the monocoque's structure.
Design: Floating Elements
Gerald Kiska's design studio can take credit for the shape of the vehicle. Coming from Salzburg, he has worked closely with KTM for the past 15 years and is entrusted not only with the design of the motorcycles, but also with the appearance of the company itself.
For the concept of the KTM brand's first automobile, Kiska incorporated many characteristics that are more closely associated with motorcycles than cars. Every part fulfils a function, the technology remains transparent, the form is noticeably simple. The few, orange-coloured body panels are "floating elements", like those of motorcycles, and suggest lightness and simplicity.
The deliberate reduction in all things even includes the lights: simple headlamps, embedded indicators flush with the car's contours and round lights at the rear forego superficial, showy effects. Instead, the carbon structure also takes on design duties, meaning that components which are frequently hidden in cars, such as the silencer, suddenly serve an aesthetic purpose in addition to their usual functions.
The Equipment: Puristic and Functional
As a result of its clear concept, the KTM X-Bow can do without a lot of elements that ordinarily add complexity and extra weight. So the narrow wind deflector makes an elaborate heating system and windscreen wipers unnecessary; doors are also not included in the design, due to the vehicle's low profile and the extra-low side profile.
The seats are further examples of the X-Bow's intelligent and simple construction: the shells for the driver's and passenger's seats are already integrated into the carbon fibre construction of the monocoque. An overlay provides solid comfort. In order to provide the best ergonomics for drivers of various heights, the KTM X-Bow has manually adjustable pedals.
The KTM X-Bow doesn't have a luggage compartment. But it does feature an innovative, mobile storage box for the car documents. The equipment required by law, such as the warning triangle, first aid kit and a tyre-fit system, are kept in storage compartments beside the passenger's foot well. A cover is stowed in this same location; it protects the interior of the car when it's parked. Two helmets can be fixed in the passenger's legroom.