The X-Bow (pronounced crossbow) is a minimalistic, ultra-lightweight sports car developed by Austrian motorcycle builder KTM. Intended for the most hardcore of enthusiasts, the mid-engined X-Bow is essentially a racecar for the street complete with blistering acceleration, razor-sharp handling and few creature comforts.
The R model is the ultra-high-performance model in the X-Bow lineup, which also includes the X-Bow Street and the X-Bow Clubsport. The R boasts a more potent engine than its siblings as well as several handling-enhancing modifications.
With jagged, angular body panels an exposed suspension and carbon fiber chassis, the X-Bow's aggressive looks hint at its explosive performance potential. Weight is kept to a minimum by means of a carbon fiber monocoque that incorporates a bolt-on carbon-fiber crash box up front and an aluminum subframe that carries the suspension and powertrain out back. Overall, the X-Bow checks in at about 1,800 pounds.
The R features an upgraded version of the turbocharged 2.0-liter Audi inline-four used in all X-Bow models. This motor produces 300 horsepower (up from 240) along with 295 lb-ft of torque. That's enough to rocket the flyweight X-Bow from zero-to-60 mpg in the mid-three-second-range. The only available transmission is a traditional six-speed manual. A standard limited-slip differential helps to optimize traction in the rear-wheel-drive X-Bow.
KTM positioned the torque arm lower in the chassis to deal with the strain of the additional power on the aluminum subframe, resulting in a 15mm drop in the car's center of gravity and a commensurate increase in cornering ability. Stiffer springs front and rear along with friction-reducing Teflon washers further augment the R's handling prowess.
The X-Bow's interior is a spartan affair with few concessions to comfort. A centrally-mounted screen contains speed and engine rpm information, while other cabin features include adjustable pedals, an adjustable and detachable steering wheel (which features buttons for the turn signals and headlights) and a keyless go system.
Potential buyers take note: the X-Bow comes with neither a windshield nor any manner of temporary roof panel to protect against the elements.
The Ariel Atom 500 V8 is really the only ultra-hardcore, ultra-lightweight rival to the X-Bow R. Larger, slower (but more comfortable) alternatives include the Porsche Boxster S and the Mazda MX-5 Miata.