While KTM was busy trying to take over every segment of the motorcycle world (off-road, then supercross and motocross, now making attempts in MotoGP, and, oh yes, bringing the Husqvarna brand back to the top) it also dabbled in a race car project because... well we have no idea. Nothing about the KTM X-Bow really makes sense, it's a non-street legal car designed exclusively for track days. And, while it has existed for a decade, it was never available for sale in the U.S. until recently.
You can get it in orange, though. So at least that part makes sense.
So with the X-Bow now available in the U.S. (for the base price of just $104,000) it's time some car guys got a chance to test one on U.S. tarmac. Car and Driver just did, you can read the test here.
The X-Bow chassis is made entirely of carbon fiber (like an F1 car), and heck, it doesn't even have seats, just a mold for your body within the carbon, and then adjustable pedals and seats to fit you stature. The base car has 295 horsepower but weighs about 1800 pounds, about half the weight of a normal street car with that kind of power. So, it's pretty fast, but the bigger hook is the handling on the track.
Here are some highlights of the test.
Not only is it properly quick—zero to 60 mph in a claimed 3.9 seconds, although we did a 3.6-second dash in 2009 with a 237-hp X-Bow—the sensation of speed is heightened by the cheeks-on-the-tarmac seating position, the lack of a windshield, the barking exhaust, and because you're wearing a helmet.
It's more than merely sensitive to where the load shifts as you accelerate or brake; it's a raw nerve smeared with Icy Hot.
The X-Bow will not suffer novices gladly. It will punish their hubris by sending them into the weeds. They will run scared, which they should. Like a toddler or a race car, the X-Bow wants all of your attention, and if you're not up to it, it'll snap or protest or both. Let your mind wander—"Hey, look. I can see the pushrods working the springs through the bodywork."—and the next thing you know you're waiting for the tow truck to pull you out of the grass. It'd be exhausting and stressful if it wasn't so much fun.
But the KTM's design, its carbon-fiber tub, its performance, and the fact that the X-Bow cannot be mastered in an afternoon make for a car that never stops teaching. It may cost as much as a college education, but you'll learn just as much.
Car and Driver has been around for a long time, but the writing remains as awesome as ever.
As for the awesome X-Bow, go play some lottery numbers and see if you're really ready to race...a KTM car.
Main Image: KTM Images