2017 KTM X-Bow launched in Australia

A ROAD-ready version of the KTM X-Bow sports car has launched in Australia after a four-year battle to have the open two-seater made road-legal.

It was a close call with the X-Bow’s importer, Sydney-based Simply Sports Cars, saying the race to gain Australian Design Rules approval came only after a last-minute break-through that helped the Gratz, Austria-built track specialist get over the line.

The rear mid-engined, rear-drive and hand-built X-Bow (pronounced “crossbow”) will cost from $169,990 – making it slightly more expensive than a Porsche Boxster S as well as its most obvious rival, the Caterham Seven 485 S – and will be brought to Australia under the Specialist and Enthusiast Vehicle Scheme that limits sales to 25 units a year – the same legal framework that allows Bolwell to build the reborn version of its Nagari coupe.

Weighing in at just 790kg, the X-Bow R features a Dallara-developed full carbon composite monocoque and is powered by an Audi-sourced 220kW/400Nm turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine paired with a six-speed gearbox. The 0-100km/h sprint takes just 3.9 seconds, and it will wind out all the way to a top speed of 231km/h.

If you buy one, Simply Sports Cars – which also imports Lotus-badged cars to Australia – says you’ll also be buying into the X-Bow club. “We will be creating a lifestyle experience around owning an X-BOW R through creating access to track days, driver training, social drives & other exclusive driving experiences,” the importer’s chief executive, Lee Knappett, said.

“We will make sure this car is used by its owners on the road and track. We are even going to take the first five buyers to KTM’s factory and test track in Austria.”

The X-Bow draws heavily on race-bred technology. It uses a carbon-aluminium sandwich crash box in its nose, both the driver and passenger have four-point Schroth safety belts, and the pushrod suspension is a direct lift from formula racing. Drive to the rear is via a Drexler limited-slip differential.

The X-Bow R is only available through two dealerships, based in NSW and Queensland.

Be warned, though, that you’re essentially buying a four-wheel motorcycle. There’s no boot, roof or windscreen, the steering wheel pops off the column via a quick-release collar, and airconditioning and a stereo are both on the options list. The interior of the X-Bow R is designed to get wet, and you don’t need to wear a helmet, although its importers recommend the use of goggles or protective glasses.

An even more hardcore X-Bow RR, and a more daily driver-friendly X-Bow GT (with a windscreen, side windows and fabric roof) are available in Europe, but have not been included for KTM’s Australian line-up. However, SSC says it is considering putting the GT through the compliance process “sometime in the future”.

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