The KTM X-Bow has now been with us for more than a decade. That’s the blink of an eye compared with the longevity of the Lotus/Caterham Seven; and yet it’s also something of an achievement when you consider how fleetingly so many other cars of this ilk, and the firms that make them, can flutter in and out of existence.
You may seldom see one of these carbon-chassis, strangely insectoid sports cars - on the road, on a trackday, or anywhere else for that matter - but the X-Bow still exists. It remains in production. And there will soon be a five-cylinder version alongside the ‘four-banger’ we already know.
Since 2008, only around forty examples of the X-Bow (pronounced ‘crossbow’; a word which, presumably, the designers couldn’t quite fit onto the rear wing) have been sold in the UK. Our dealer network for the car has had as many as six outlets; it is now made up of only three. How many of those one-time dealers now wish they’d listened to warnings that the market for a trackday car with roughly the same power-to-weight ratio as a fairly quick Caterham, but costing twice as much, might be a bit limited? A few, probably. In one sense, though, it doesn’t matter; KTM’s intriguing four-wheeler project carries on regardless.
The X-Bow hasn’t changed much over the course of its life, which has given road testers like me little chance to get to know it as the years have passed. However, newly appointed UK dealer Darkside Developments has just acquired a five-year-old demonstrator, which they brought along to Donington Park earlier this week. And so how much more convincing an argument might you be able to make, I wondered, to own and use a second-hand X-Bow today than you could to buy a brand-new one that might have cost you anything upwards of £70,000 a decade ago?
Alright; perhaps it wouldn’t be masses more convincing. It doesn’t help that, even now, the market’s cheapest used X-Bows somehow still cost more than £50k. Moreover though, the truth is that the appeal of this car remains one that is best described as ‘alternative’. ‘Particular’, even. Someone who’s managed to own or has driven a few trackday lightweights already without really falling for any of them, and who is looking for something different - and who likes their bikes as well - could easily take a shine to it. Someone who, for understandable reasons, might even be keen to wean himself off a fast bike and replace it with something a touch less crazed and more usable. I can see that. For that buyer, the car’s quirkiness is its selling point.