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New car for KTM ‘in the pipeline’

Three strings: KTM’s X-Bow has spawned three distinct variants in the road-going R, track focused RR and touring oriented GT.

Niche sportscar-maker coy about second model but won’t rule it out

20 Mar 2017

AUSTRIAN sportscar minnow KTM has not ruled out the possibility of adding a second vehicle to its small four-wheel roster.

Currently, the brand – a ‘daughter’ company of the KTM Group – offers the X-Bow in three variants R, RR and GT.

Australian company Simply Sports Cars (SSC) has recently been appointed as the importer of the X-Bow R, which has been approved for limited import under the SEVS (Specialist and Enthusiast Vehicle) scheme. A maximum of 25 cars a year can be sold locally.

In Sydney for the launch of the deal, KTM Sportcar managing director Michael Woelfling told GoAuto that the small company has the support of the KTM parent company, which sells more than 180,000 motorcycles annually.

“The X Bow company is a daughter company of the bike company,” he said. “Every single KTM product is produced under the name of the parent, so there is a strong connection. We are fully part of the KTM family.”

Mr Woelfling said that the local KTM motorcycle importer, Western Australia’s Automotive Holdings Group (AHG), had already fielded inquiries about the X-Bow and was forwarding them to SSC.

“Many of our customers have experiences in motorbike riding, but they are coming to an age where they want a bit more safety,” said Mr Woelfling.

“The X Bow customer wants to be special and unique, and not follow the cliche that he owns a supercar. He wants to be something different. There is the showing off factor for sure, but only on the positive side, and he wants to show that he is not mainstream.”

The carbon tubbed rear-wheel-drive X-Bow was released in 2007, and the diminutive two-seater has sold 1000 units worldwide since. Mr Woelfling said the company was investigating adding a second car, but the high costs associated with adding another model was a limiting factor.

“The original ‘pure’ strategy of the X-Bow has already switched when you talk about the GT, which has the option of the windscreen with air conditioning, multimedia screen and so on – it wasn’t in our original strategy,” he said.

“We are working on it. It is always a problem when you are talking about just 100 cars a year. To get something new homologated for the streets means a budget investment of millions of Euros. Even the switch to another engine means another seven digits investment, which makes it difficult.

“There’s nothing I can confirm to you at this time, but there is definitely something in the pipeline.”

Mr Woelfling confirmed that the KTM Group was supportive of the idea.

“We are always working on a mid-term plan, which is the next seven years,” he said. “The (KTM Group) directors have just released the details of the budget going forward, and it looks much, much better than the years before.”

He did allude to the company’s racing side project – known as the X-Bow GT4, and run by race outfit Reiter Engineering – as a possible starting point for a future model.

The GT4 weighs 1000kg in race trim, and features fully enclosing carbon-fibre bodywork and a fighter plane-like canopy to protect the occupants.

“We know the existing GT4 racecar project could be something for the future,” he said. “We’ll see.

“At the moment, the design department is very active again, and we will see what comes out of there. The compromise between designer and engineer is always challenging.”

A move into another segment looks unlikely, however, as well as a switch away from the Audi-sourced EA888 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine that has powered the X-Bow since its inception.

“We still would like to stay in the superlight segment,” Mr Woelfling confirmed. “There were discussion around maybe having a bigger engine for the car, and we evaluated it, but we still believe the smaller engine and the superlight segment is where we would like to stay.

“That may erase some rumours that were in the pipeline about the five-cylinder Audi engine, or even a six or eight-cylinder version it makes no sense.”

Mr Woelfling said that the current package still has potential, despite the age of the carbon-tubbed two-seater.

“We have already a car with 470 horsepower (350kW) that is absolutely too much for the car, if you are talking about 790kg. We can beat everybody with 360bhp (270kW), which is fair enough for the RR it is fast enough at 3.2 seconds to 100kmh/h. What else do you need in this segment.”

A move into the off-road arena – where KTM motorcycles are very successful – is unlikely.

“I see potential in creating an off-road buggy, like everybody does at the moment, but it means you would build up a brand new car, and this is not in the budget at the moment,” said Mr Woelfling.

“There were studies from the designers about doing a Dakar (desert race) buggy, for example, and go into the Dakar four-wheel buggy market, but the problem is there are so many variants in the market Nomad, Arial and Yamaha, for example, and ours – which would have a carbon fibre tub – is a step above those steel framed cars, and we would still be compared to them.”

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