A Closer Look at the 2018 KTM X-Bow GT4 Racer

KTM AG has been in the performance vehicles business since 1992, and traces its roots back to a car repair shop started in 1934 by Austrian engineer Johann Trunkenpolz. This shop was called Kraftfahrzeug Trunkenpolz Mattighofen (KTM), though the name was not officially registered.

For a long time, this company dealt exclusively in off-road motorcycles. Though they remain a leader in this field to the modern day, they expanded into street motorcycles and sports cars during the late 1990s – and they made strides here as well. Since 2012, they have been the largest European motorcycle manufacturer. Plus, their X-Bow ultra-light sports car has received much recognition since its 2008 launch at the Geneva Motor Show.

If you’ve been keeping up with KTM news, you have probably heard of the new update of the X-Bow track car. Due to come out in 2018, this re-spec of their GT4 race car is geared toward improving reliability and lowering running costs. Various engine parts have been altered or swapped to be more efficient and require less maintenance.

One important change in the newest version of the X-Bow is an updated transmission. The new transmission is far more durable when it’s hooked up to the 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that drives the X-Bow. Plus, the new transmission can run double the kilometers before requiring any sort of service. When the old version needed to be maintained every 5000 kilometers, this is a welcome change.

The chassis of the KTM X-Bow has been designed for supreme handling and increased speeds (due to the lightweight nature of its construction). The improved chassis design cuts back on the amount of maintenance required. The center-locking wheel hubs and suspension wishbones can go 20,000 kilometers before they need to be maintained. The chassis design is the result of KISKA. They also created chassis designs for a few performance motorcycles.

The engine computer and wiring harness, formerly a Series ECU, has been replaced by a Motec M142 system. Plus, the wiring has been specifically designed for motorsports applications, leading to greater efficiency across the board. Another electronic change is the inclusion of GT3-spec traction control. This addition will be controllable from inside the cockpit on a user-friendly panel.

The cockpit of the vehicle has also been updated. It is no longer an open-roofed racer. Instead, it has been updated to a fully-covered, fighter jet-style cockpit. This will improve racer comfort and allow you to focus more on the track than on the wind.

The X-Bow is one of the lighter sports cars coming onto the market today, coming in at only about 2200 pounds. For comparison, some other common track cars at GT4 events include the Lotus Evora 400 and the Aston Martin Vantage – both of which weigh a little over 3000 pounds. Though this number is for cars that have not been stripped down to the bare essentials, no amount of weight-saving measures will drop the weight down quite as low as the X-Bow. A lightweight sports car generally will boast better handling and higher speeds than its heavier cousins.

Despite all of the fine engineering and useful updates offered on the 2018 KTM X-Bow, the car is intended for a beginner racer (or a racer on a budget). It costs significantly less than other race cars to run – coming in at only about $6 per kilometer – and has a fairly low list price compared to other cars in its class. The price that KTM is asking for the updated X-Bow is about $230,000. Unfortunately, all fifteen of the cars that were to be produced in 2018 have already been sold.

And you won’t be seeing a single one on the streets. The 2018 X-Bow is a track-only car, and will not ever be produced as a street-legal machine. So, if you want to catch a sight of one of these KTM asphalt rockets, you will need to go to a GT4 event (or another event featuring an X-Bow).

Overall, the 2018 KTM X-Bow is a welcome update to an already-established car. Great for beginners, racers on a budget, or even affluent hobbyists, the new mechanical (and practical) additions to the car’s design make it worth the price. Plus, the price itself really isn’t all that high when you consider the average price of a track-ready race car. All of the maintenance-saving measures that KTM and Reiter Engineering took in creating this car will definitely pay off — both in performance and savings — on the track.

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