A couple of you will have already read this but I thought I'd share here too...
After Goodwood this year I got invited to attend an event with KTM trying out the new X-bow, a car I have been looking forward to trying for a while as a potential replacement for the Elise. Firstly apologies for the lack of photos, I couldn't find my little camera, my phone stayed in the car and my DSLR was too bulky to lug around and anyway I wanted to enjoy the opportunity without worrying about photos. So the pics here are stock ones.
So th eformat fo rthe day was arrive at Silverstone to use the Copse runway for lunch. As i arrived one of the cars was returning from an on road test drive and trust me, nothing, not even an Atom, prepares you for the site of one oif these coming up behind you. They are astonishing. The looks they command are truly justified, even in a rear view mirror. For those that haven't seen one....
So let me explain the format of the day, the events as they were and then my thoughts on the car.
The format of the day
Arrive and have lunch in the Brooklands suite.
Have a 20 minute presentation on KTM, the car, the race successes and meet the tutors / drivers in GT4 class.
Get suited up.
Go out and have a 5 minute overview of the car (a gorgeous white panelled one).
Do a series of events - a braking and basic slalom, a double figure of 8, an actual road test and finally a bit of fun combining the slalom activities and figures of 8.
Back to the Brooklands suite for a debrief and chat.
There were about 12 or 14 of us driving and 6 cars split amongst the events.
My group started on the brake and slalom and I got the dubious honour of going first. The pedal box moves rather than the seat so that is a little weird. However I did find the people feel a little numb and soft. There are no servos etc or ABS but the brake pedal feels very soft but ok to modulate. I did manage to stall it first time out though as I couldn't feel anything iunitially until I got used to it.
Problem number 1
The next chap in the car after me started his initial run and all was fine and he was a chatty guy over lunch so I was interested in his thoughts. His 2nd run however half way through had the rear tyres light up as the throttle stuck wide open so he had to use the clutch, the foot brake and the tutor used the handbrake to stop it before the car drove itself through the nearby fence.
The rest of the guys had their turns in the next car until ...
Problem number 2
The 2nd car wouldn't turn off and this was supposed to be familiarising us with the car controls as basic as they were. SO this needed to be replaced as well.
The next event was the double figure of 6. Think of this as 2 hairpins with a circle in between.
So you could test understeer, oversteer and drifting car control. The nice detail was they had 2 cars set up. One in standard road spec and one with a the harder track set up. The soft one was very understeery (is this an adjective?) and not fun at all, if anything a little annoying, whilst the track spec one was just about 15% too keen to step out at the rear, fun where we were, not good on a road IMHO so I reckoned I would like a set up some 3/4 of the way to the oversteery one to get me to the track and then track it comfortably.
The road drive was ok, but the attention you get is outrageous. People almost crash whilst looking at you.
The final section in the rain was cool, I was manging to spin the rears up through 1st, 2nd and into 3rd for the fun of it, well it wasn't may car now was it?
The day was pretty good, buit more time in the car would have been better.
My thoughts on the car
The car needs to be set up right otherwise it's only ok if you have ever driven an Elise, a Caterfield etc. Visually I have to applaud KTM and the design house that made it look like it does, it is fantastic.
How is it to sit / stay in / control? Great
How is the car under duress etc etc? Very good, easy to place and accurate and excellent amounts of feedback.
Would I have one? Yes
Will I place an order? No. Beacuase to have it the way it should be is makes it a £53k+ car. Forget what you see in the mags I have the latest price sheet here and with the spec it needs to make the car "a good one" takes the base price on £44.923 and adds almost £9k.
Now given that both the A1 guys were testing on the circuit and there was a Nissan GT-R prowling around which IS a £55k car IMHO I couldn't possibly get a X-bow for that money. If it was between 40 and 45 then I would snap their hands off but not at the prices they are asking. I may go back for an actual track day with KTM to see how it does compared to winning in the GT4 supler light class, but until then it is greyed out on my list of cars purely on value.
What an opportunity - and an even greater review. Thanks Kelk!
I saw the XBow for the first time at Le Mans '06 I think. I have to agree with you that it does look absolutely awesome. I'd like to think that it's all functional - but I'm also suspicious that the pen got a little carried away on paper. But all in all, it's good to know that it also performs as well as you say.
It is good but one thing one of the Caterham owners who was there has posted up, which in hindsight I have to agree with, is that given theat the car is so light, why didn't it have a a quick / short steering rack on it?
A good point well made that only caused a lightbulb moment once I'd read it.
interesting, i've not looked too closely at the x-bow yet, but would love to know how it differs from the Atom........
I reckon your atom offers more for less £££