The "Gulf" KTM X-Bow– and an interloper.

Generally speaking, we like Mark Gillies of Car und Driver, but some of his claims about the X-Bow in the latest issue (it’s the nearest thing to a modern racing car that you can buy for the street… the X-Bow is probably the best-handling car we’ve driven in some time… perhaps ever…) has us wondering: has Mr. Gillies ever heard of the Ariel Atom, let alone driven one? At minimum, we know his colleagues have.

Let’s check out the tale of the tape.

KTM X-Bow:

VEHICLE TYPE: mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 2-passenger, 0-door roadster

ESTIMATED PRICE AS TESTED (AUSTRIA): $91,500 (base price: $78,000)

ENGINE TYPE: turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve inline-4, iron block and aluminum head, direct fuel injection

Displacement: 121 cu in, 1984cc
Power (SAE net): 237 bhp @ 5500 rpm
Torque (SAE net): 229 lb-ft @ 2000 rpm

TRANSMISSION: 6-speed manual

DIMENSIONS:
Wheelbase: 95.7 in Length: 147.2 in
Width: 74.8 in Height: 47.4 in
Curb weight: 1816 lb

C/D TEST RESULTS:
Zero to 60 mph: 3.6 sec
Zero to 100 mph: 9.4 sec
Zero to 130 mph: 20.4 sec
Street start, 5–60 mph: 4.5 sec
Standing ¼-mile: 12.3 sec @ 112 mph
Top speed (drag limited): 143 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 150 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 1.12 g


Ariel Atom:

VEHICLE TYPE: mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 2-passenger, 0-door roadster

PRICE AS TESTED: $85,479 (base price: $65,000)

ENGINE TYPE: supercharged DOHC 16-valve inline-4, aluminum block and head, port fuel injection

Displacement: 122 cu in, 1988cc
Power (SAE net): 300 bhp @ 8400 rpm
Torque (SAE net): 190 lb-ft @ 5800 rpm

TRANSMISSION: 6-speed manual

DIMENSIONS:
Wheelbase: 92.3 in Length: 134.3 in Width: 72.0 in Height: 47.0 in
Curb weight: 1388 lb

C/D TEST RESULTS:
Zero to 60 mph: 2.9 sec
Zero to 100 mph: 6.4 sec
Zero to 130 mph: 12.6 sec
Street start, 5–60 mph: 3.4 sec
Standing ¼-mile: 11.2 sec @ 125 mph
Top speed (governor limited): 155 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 158 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 1.12 g


On just the numbers alone, we think the Atom wins (plus we can get it here in the States, unlike the X-Bow). But what does the automotive commentariat think?

Alas, we were only able to find one comparo- by the esteemed EVO (which also throws a Lotus 2-Eleven and Caterham R500 into the mix):

THE KTM IS THE BIGGEST casualty, its ‘speed without consequence’ pitch being blown apart by the Lotus, which outmatches it for effortlessly acquired A-to-B pace but is vastly more engaging and satisfying to drive quickly. The X-Bow is several shades of wonderful but part of the spectrum is missing completely. As Ollie concludes: ‘Where’s the constant stream of information? The driving experience simply isn’t as memorable as it should be. It rides placidly and capably, but never challenges the driver, never delivers the visceral, seat-of-the-pants thrills that the Caterham and the Atom serve up so ably. The end result is a car that’s a long way from having the bite and charisma of its British rivals.’

The Ariel Atom, on the other hand, is more or less immune to attack, even from the 2-Eleven. If it’s a challenge, a massive adrenalin hit and the kind of acceleration you never really get used to that floats your boat, there is no substitute. It’s the four-wheel superbike that the KTM, ironically, so clearly is not.

In the end, though, the Caterham most ably lives up to the best-of-all-worlds ideal, combining all-but-dammit the Atom’s acceleration with an intimate, engaging and fabulously biddable chassis, heaps of charisma and a degree of practicality – windscreen, roof, boot (of sorts) – none of the others comes close to matching. A true original and still the king.

We take this to mean Caterham > Ariel > Lotus > KTM.

For fun, here’s more:

Claims a 1:23.1 lap time for the X-Bow.

*Classic* episode. Jump to the 3:00 mark for sheer, utter hilarity:

Claims a 1:19.5 lap time for the Atom.

Photo credit: Peter Terpstra


~ by velofinds on December 17, 2009.