KTM X-Bow Being Evaluated for America
The Austrian motorcycle company's track-day car may soon be available stateside. Question is, what would you do with it?
Since 2008, Austrian motorcycle manufacturer KTM has offered a light, roofless sports car called the X-Bow (pronounced "crossbow"). It looks like a cross between an angry orange bug and a Batmobile with all of its sheet metal ripped off, and it weighs around 1,700 pounds. Power comes from a turbocharged Audi 4-cylinder engine mounted behind the driver; output varies with model year and type of X-Bow purchased, but essentially you get between 237 and 296 horsepower. The X-Bow R, a hotted-up version of the standard X-Bow, will crack 62 mph from a standstill in just 3.9 seconds.
This is an impressive, if not spectacular, figure. A 993-generation Porsche 911 Turbo will hit 60 mph in the same amount of time; a base Bugatti Veyron does it in 2.5. But the X-Bow is not a pure acceleration tool, nor is it a top-speed beast -- the R runs out of steam, presumably due to aerodynamic drag, at just 144 mph. No, instead, this is an adrenaline junkie's delight, a track car barely tamed for the street. Handling precision and driver feedback, to say nothing of emotional connection, matter most here.
Also, the car comes with no top, windshield or doors.
The X-Bow isn't currently offered in America. According to Car and Driver, KTM is "evaluating the feasibility" of selling an X-Bow in this market. The only question is: Should you care?
I realize this may seem like a silly question, but this is a silly car. There will, of course, be a handful of people who will get very excited about the prospect of an American-market X-Bow. At the moment, your only choice if you want to own one of these things is to buy one overseas, import it, and never license it or drive it on a public road.
Many people who want to buy an X-Bow are likely wealthy enough to make this happen, so we will discount them for a moment. For everyone else, if you want one of these things, maybe you'll get lucky. Me, I'm just not that excited.
Oh, I feel a little guilty about it, sure. This is a car, like the Lotus/Caterham 7, that was designed exclusively for purists -- and because I am a nerd, I like to think of myself as a purist. I enjoy weird old British and Italian and German cars; I don't believe that convertibles should have air-conditioning; and I like trading comfort for speed. I even road-race cars as an amateur, burning armloads of my own money every so often to feel like Pro Goon Speed Racer Dude behind the wheel. But I just cannot get excited about a car like the KTM.
A caveat: I have not driven a X-Bow. I have, however, driven a handful of cars like it, including a version of the Ariel Atom, the original balls-out modern track car built also for the road. The latter is an amazing piece of engineering -- an open-wheeled racing car with a license plate. It is certifiably insane, which is both the draw and part of the problem. I like dipping a toe into its ludicrous waters, but I can't imagine driving it on a regular basis.
Right: The author in an Ariel Atom. Image courtesy Andrew Yeadon/Automobile Magazine.
Here's the thing about gimmicky sports cars -- and I use that term lovingly, referring to cars without roofs or weather protection: The great secret is that most simply aren't much fun to drive on the road. For a start, they aren't even remotely comfortable. Their limits are high enough that the only way to feel like you're operating a machine -- engaging yourself with the car's limits, or even just doing something besides matting your right foot and steering -- is to risk life and limb. You get all the weirdness of a motorcycle -- no weather protection, no lockable storage, little long-distance capability -- with few, if any, of the advantages of a car. Like a good racing car, the Atom does exactly what you want, when you want it -- but it rarely concerns itself with making you feel good. It's fun, yes. But for me, there's something missing.
People want track toys, sure, and cars like the X-Bow are great for that. But faced with the news that the KTM may be coming, I can't help but feel guilty for not being a little more stoked. If I'm spending my own cash -- and ho, hey, I'm not, cue nervous laughter -- I'd rather drive a Porsche 911 GT3 on that same road and not have to trailer it home from the track. What's wrong with me that I'm just not worked up about this?
What about you? If your wallet were bottomless and your garage infinite, would you have one? Would you buy a KTM as a once-in-a-great-while toy? And if not, what would you get instead?
[Source: Car and Driver.]
If it comes here in road legal trim, it is stil going to be expensive. $60,000+ ?? Current exchange rates would have it closer to $90,000...
I'd try one out at a car track day if KTM had demo models available, but I wouldn't be able to use it enough to justify the price. I'd rather spend the money on a Ducati Panigal 1199 Tricolor and either an ATS diesel (if they make it) or a C250 Bluetec (if they import that.) The bike and car together would probably be $65,000 or so before TTL, etc...
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