How the KTM X-Bow Works

KTM X-Bow Design
The KTM X-Bow R
The KTM X-Bow R
Photo courtesy of KTM-Sportmotorcycle AG

KTM is known for its racing bikes, so it's little surprise that the X-Bow performs much like a four-wheeled motorcycle. But designing a car requires a slightly different skill set, so KTM enlisted a team of experts to help ensure the X-Bow would be the leader of the pack. KTM borrowed the exhaust from its family of bikes, and in fact, that's the only KTM-produced element of the car. All other major components and features are sourced from different suppliers.

The chassis was engineered by Dallara, an Italian racecar design firm that specializes in lightweight and high-tech materials. The tub-like cockpit is constructed of a carbon fiber variant that, according to The Telegraph, is actually called "industrial fiber." In the front, the cockpit is strengthened with racing-spec carbon fiber crash reinforcements and the exhaust provides support for the rear. This construction makes the X-Bow twice as resistant to twisting as a steel-bodied convertible. The 240 horsepower Volkswagen-Audi 4-cylinder FSI engine also rounds out the rear.

The X-Bow's been available around its home turf since 2008, so there's been plenty of opportunity for European and American motoring press to weigh in. The car's tub-like design is a popular target for sharp commentary. Climb into the X-Bow (not a graceful task, according to Motor Trend) and settle into the nonadjustable, hard molded seat -- the controls must be adjusted to reach the driver. Paul Horrell of Motor Trend said the lack of a roof and windshield is jarring, especially at track speeds: Protection comes only from the driver's helmet. And without a windshield and roof, there's no need for the A-pillar that typically forms the support between those panels, providing unobstructed front and peripheral views. A KTM motorbike instrument cluster is mounted nearby.

Get in shape before you attempt to whip the X-Bow around a track: It's absent the grace of power steering and power brakes. The suspension provides a rough, yet purposeful ride, allowing the driver to receive plenty of feedback from the road surface; however, it's generally "very civilized" [source: Horrell]. Prospective American buyers can rest easy, though: the X-Bow is available in both left-hand and right-hand drive formats.

Now that you know how the X-Bow feels on the road (at least, according to the pros), you might be wondering what's behind the carbon fiber facade. Keep reading for the X-Bow's vital stats.

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