2014 KTM X-Bow

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 and razor-sharp handling.

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.

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.

KTM offers three versions of the X-Bow: the GT, the R and the RR

X-Bow GT
Designed to be used as a semi-regular driver, the GT is the only member of the X-Bow family that features even a small serving of creature comforts. The car is equipped with a frameless windshield, side windows, sun visors, a wind deflector mounted between the seats, an upgraded heater, a center console, a fabric soft top and even a luggage system.

The extra equipment comes at a price, and the GT tips the scale at 1,867 pounds with an empty fuel tank.

The passenger-friendly X-Bow is powered by a 2.0-liter Audi-sourced TFSI four-cylinder engine that makes 285 horsepower and 309 lb-ft. of torque. Power is sent to the rear wheels via a six-speed manual transmission and a limited-slip differential, enabling the GT to sprint from zero to 62 mph in 4.1 seconds and on to a top speed of 143 mph.

Like all X-Bows, the GT features Brembo brakes all around, a totally flat underbody, a rear air diffuser and six-point seatbelts.

X-Bow R
KTM bills the X-Bow R as a 21st century spin on Lotus founder Colin Chapman's mantra of "light is right." The car is built for the track and it does away with nearly all of the creature comforts found in the GT model including the windshield, which makes it necessary for both passengers to wear a helmet.

The aforementioned 2.0-liter TFSI has been pushed to 300 horsepower and 295 lb-ft. of torque for use in the R model. Power is again transferred to the rear wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox and a limited-slip differential, and the 1,741-pound R reaches 62 mph from a stop in 3.9 seconds.

X-Bow RR
As its name loosely implies, the RR is the most extreme configuration of the X-Bow. It retains the R's TFSI mill but how many ponies it generates depends on what specification is ordered by the buyer. All models regardless of horsepower come standard with a high-performance radiator to cope with the extra power.

The RR also adds forged central-locking wheels that reduce unsprung weight, an adjustable suspension on both axles and extra aerodynamic bits such as a large rear spoiler and a double front splitter.

The car tips the scale at 1,785 pounds with an aluminum subframe and buyers can order a tubular subframe at an extra cost.

The RR can be entered in the X-Bow Battle, KTM's exclusive one-make race series.

Key Competitors
Looking for a small, lightweight performance car with almost no electronic devices to sully the connection between man and machine? Besides the X-Bow, options worth considering include the Ariel Atom 3, the various versions of the Caterham Seven and, on the larger, more conventional end of the spectrum, the Mazda MX-5 Miata.