KTM to produce Lotus rivalling car in 2007

Austrian motorcycle manufacturer to produce extreme car

EXCITING Austrian motorcycle manufacturer, KTM, is planning to take on the Lotus Elise with its own lightweight roadster.

Back in January, Audi were rumoured to be working on a "purist roadster" in partnership with KTM. Although the project was not declared official, it had passed by the Audi boss, Dr Winterkorn. Now, almost a year on, rumours of KTM's project have again resurfaced. As yet, there's no name for the KTM sports car, but it is expected to follow the principles of the Lotus Seven, a car which ultimately inspired the project. With a mid-mounted engine and a lightweight, no-nonsense construction, the KTM is expected to weigh in at 700kg. Former Formula One company Dallara has been drafted in to help KTM develop the roadster. Dallara, which is based in Italy, has been responsible for building and testing the current prototypes.

The Audi link is still clearly visible, as the engine for the KTM is supplied by Volkswagen and is a heavily revised version of VW's 2.0-litre turbocharged FSI unit. It's thought the engine has been tuned to produce 250bhp and will drive through a six-speed manual gearbox. There may also be the option of fitting VW's DSG twin clutch paddle-shift gearbox. Its KTM-developed structure may be classified as a motorcycle rather than a car, demanding that occupants wear a helmet. However, unlike the Volkswagen GX3 prototype seen at the Los Angeles Auto Show in January, it will have four, rather than three, wheels.

KTM believes there is a market for 1,000 of its roadsters every year in Europe. The cars would be sold through the firm's existing chain of motorcycle dealers, but servicing would be carried out at VW dealers. The car will make its debut at the Geneva motor show in March 2007 and estimated cost will be around 35,000 euros.