Dynamically, the KTM X-Bow has most things nailed. It rides, it steers, it grips and it handles. And it does them all with real ability.
These things, however, can be pretty far from your mind if you’re driving a KTM home on a wet Tuesday evening. A very wet Tuesday evening.
When making its first road car, KTM embraced its motorbike experience.
What’s good about that is that, if the X-Bow gets wet, it matters not. “It has a tonneau cover,” the marketing man told us when he dropped the car off. “But don’t worry if the car gets wet. You can turn a hose on the interior and it doesn’t matter.”
The seats are rubbery, the floor – like the rest of the tub – is carbonfibre, the pedals are topped with grippy tape (like a skateboard deck) and the centre-mounted dial pod is plastic and totally waterproof. Somehow it feels wrong to leave a Caterham 7 or a Lotus 2-Eleven out in the rain, but not the KTM.
But this attitude is also a KTM weakness. You’re not as exposed as you are in an Ariel Atom, yet you’re more exposed than in a Caterham. The KTM’s level of protection is more like the Lotus 2-Eleven’s; if you keep the speed up you (mostly) stay dry from the head down. And that’s fine. Wear waterproofs and you’ll stay dry enough.
The X-Bow’s biggest issue is wind buffeting. It sits you upright, with the pedals and steering wheel adjusting around a fixed driving position. It’s a driving position that’s arguably too high and, unusually, it’s hard to set the steering wheel far enough away.
Up to 60mph or so it’s fine, but above this – as almost all owners will discover on a race track – your head can get bounced around by some pretty severe buffeting, presumably because you’re sitting in front of the most turbulent area of the car’s aerodynamics.
It’s a shame because, in other respects, KTM has got things absolutely spot-on. But when you’re seeing three of everything because your head’s being tossed asunder it’s sometimes hard to remember that.