KTM is perhaps most famous for their comprehensive line of off-road and street motorcycles, and that influence definitely shows in their first-ever car. On a motorcycle, there’s not a lot of computer and technological assistance like there is on a car and there’s a lot fewer pieces. No power steering, no power-assisted braking, no roof, no doors. Well, that description fits the new 2010 KTM X-Bow as well.
As you can see from the pictures, there’s not that much to the KTM X-Bow. There’s a few carbon fiber body panels, a carbon fiber tub that houses the cockpit, some wheels and an engine. That minimalism keeps the X-Bows weight down to a mere 1,750 pounds. The engine is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder from Audi, mated to a six-speed manual transmission (also from Audi) that puts out 240 horsepower in standard tuning. However, for the adventurous, there is a special computer unit upgrade that boosts the output to 300 horsepower. The 240 horsepower model can go from 0-to-60 mph in 3.9 seconds and, while there’s no official manufacturers figures on the 300 horsepower model, one would assume it can do it in the low 3′s.
And you’ll feel every single one of those ponies when you drive the X-Bow because there’s very little between you and the car. The steering is unassisted, which means you get pristine feedback from the road as you drive. If a tire starts to slip a bit, you’ll feel it immediately and be able to correct it with a light touch, a feat unimaginable in the world of power-assisted steering governed by traction control, stability control, and a whole host of other safety nets. Yes, those safety nets are wonderful at keeping you safe when you’re driving to work every day, but the joy of doing without them for a bit on a stripped down supercar like the X-Bow is undeniable. The only downside is because the steering is unassisted, as are the brakes, you do have to work harder and your arms and legs will be a bit tired after a long drive, but that’s more than a fair trade-off.
The interior continues with the minimalist approach and also takes a few cues from KTM’s two-wheeled creations. For example, the seats do not adjust, instead you change the position of the pedals and the steering wheel. The instrument cluster provides only the essentials and resembles the gauges from a motorcycle more than a car. And, the X-Bow has perhaps one of the greatest anti-theft systems around. Forget the alarm and the fancy electronic ignitions, you have to take the steering wheel off in order to get in and out, so just take the wheel with you when you leave the car. And you don’t have to worry about your possessions being taken out of the cabin because there isn’t really a place to put anything, so if an item doesn’t fit in your pocket, it stays at home.
The lack of a windshield and the racing design pretty much puts the X-Bow out the the running as an everyday car. And, you can’t even buy a street-legal version in the U.S. (you can in Europe) because Audi has required KTM to take out a large liability insurance policy in order to get it on American roads that, due to the current economy, KTM can’t afford. The X-Bow will be sold in the U.S. strictly as a track car, however. But, since the adjustments necessary to make the X-Bow road legal consist solely of a tweaked computer system to make it pass emissions testing, you can bet that KTM will shell out the cash for that policy once they’re able to.
The 2010 KTM X-Bow is a brilliant automobile that marks an impressive debut four-wheeler for the Austrian motorcycle firm. The car doesn’t cover its racing pedigree in a veneer of luxury or technology. The X-Bow is all about driving fast and having fun, and it accomplishes that with vigor. Just don’t drive it for more than an hour or two at a time, though, because the racing seat will cause your pelvis to break and the constant buffeting of 100 mph winds (remember, no windshield) will snap your neck. Usually that’s something found on a warning label, but with the X-Bow, it’s a promise of good things to come.