Automotive

New Ariel Atom 4 prepares to slaughter cars 10 times its price

The Ariel Atom 4 boasts revised suspension for even less squat, dive and cornering roll from a car that was already renowned for staying flat
The Ariel Atom 4 boasts revised suspension for even less squat, dive and cornering roll from a car that was already renowned for staying flat
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Ariel Atom 4: aerodynamic simulations
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Ariel Atom 4: aerodynamic simulations
In front, the new Atom 4. Behind it, the Atom 3.5.
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In front, the new Atom 4. Behind it, the Atom 3.5.
Ariel Atom 4: new exoskeletal trellis frame adds torsional stiffness
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Ariel Atom 4: new exoskeletal trellis frame adds torsional stiffness
Ariel Atom 4: hyper-focused supercar killer
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Ariel Atom 4: hyper-focused supercar killer
Ariel Atom 4: new exhaust system
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Ariel Atom 4: new exhaust system
Ariel Atom 4: larger cabin fits a wider range of drivers
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Ariel Atom 4: larger cabin fits a wider range of drivers
Ariel Atom 4: you'll need every strap on those race harnesses if you hit the racetrack
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Ariel Atom 4: you'll need every strap on those race harnesses if you hit the racetrack
Ariel Atom 4: revised AIM dash and switchgear. Still no radio.
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Ariel Atom 4: revised AIM dash and switchgear. Still no radio.
Ariel Atom 4: uses the new Honda Type R motor, developing 320 horses and buckets more torque than the previous model
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Ariel Atom 4: uses the new Honda Type R motor, developing 320 horses and buckets more torque than the previous model
Ariel Atom 4: a raw driving experience
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Ariel Atom 4: a raw driving experience
Ariel Atom 4: ultra-lightweight, road-legal race car
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Ariel Atom 4: ultra-lightweight, road-legal race car
Ariel Atom 4: now road legal throughout Europe and Australia
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Ariel Atom 4: now road legal throughout Europe and Australia
Ariel Atom 4: helmets not required, but advisable!
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Ariel Atom 4: helmets not required, but advisable!
Ariel Atom 4: that huge air intake next to the driver's head now hides the rollover protection loop
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Ariel Atom 4: that huge air intake next to the driver's head now hides the rollover protection loop
The Ariel Atom 4 boasts revised suspension for even less squat, dive and cornering roll from a car that was already renowned for staying flat
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The Ariel Atom 4 boasts revised suspension for even less squat, dive and cornering roll from a car that was already renowned for staying flat
The Ariel Atom 4 goes from 0-60 mph (96.5 km/h) in 2.8 seconds
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The Ariel Atom 4 goes from 0-60 mph (96.5 km/h) in 2.8 seconds
Ariel Atom 4: top view
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Ariel Atom 4: top view
Ariel Atom 4: not a lot of unnecessary bits and pieces
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Ariel Atom 4: not a lot of unnecessary bits and pieces

Pound for pound, price for performance, there has never been a more focused production sports car than the Ariel Atom – and the new Atom 4 takes things up a notch. With a 320-hp engine, and significant revisions throughout the car, you can now get 2.8-seconds-to-60 mph (96.5 km/h) performance for around US$53,000.

There are many things to love about the Ariel Atom: its insanely fast lap times, its cheek-flapping acceleration, its wild, open-top, overgrown go-kart design, its funky curved trellis frame, its sub-£40,000 price tag.

But to us, the best thing about it is the way it shows so many hypercars up for what they really are: vastly overpriced garage jewelery for rich people. Appreciating assets that are rarely appreciated, because if you drive them hard or far they stop generating cash and start costing you a ton of money.

As we pointed out a couple of years ago, the Ariel is a true people's champion that routinely trots out on the racetrack and stuffs steaming helpings of humble pie into the gobs of cars costing 10, 20 or 30 times as much. If you want a status symbol, go get yourself a Koenigsegg or a Pagani. If you want the quickest and best-handling genuine driver's scalpel, pick up an Atom. Then spend the million-odd pounds you just saved on track days and driving coaches and promptly run out of excuses for your lap times.

Ariel Atom 4: not a lot of unnecessary bits and pieces
Ariel Atom 4: not a lot of unnecessary bits and pieces

Now, as we wait for its brutal electric Ariel Hipercar to drop, the British company has announced the next-generation Atom 4, which takes this wild naked warrior to new heights.

It starts with the engine – the latest Honda Type R donk. This 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder turbo gains a thoroughly unnecessary 10 horses over the previous model to a peak of 320 hp (239 kW). But the real story here is torque, which at 420 Nm (310 lb-ft) is a flatly terrifying 75 percent leap up from the naturally aspirated Atom 3.5's 229 Nm (169 lb-ft) and will enable an even wider range of opportunities to test the adhesion of any road-legal tire you could put on it.

It's housed in a new bronze-welded chassis, which keeps the familiar exosleketal shape of previous Atom bodies but offers some 15 percent extra torsional stiffness as well as improved interior space, leg room and crash protection.

Ariel Atom 4: top view
Ariel Atom 4: top view

Even the first-generation Atom was praised for its astonishing ability to stay flat under extreme track braking and cornering forces, but the Atom 4 gets a completely overhauled suspension system designed to manage acceleration squat, brake dive and cornering roll even better. Bilstein provides the dampers, but there's also an optional semi-active Ohlins pack in the works.

A redesigned steering rack adds extra turning lock and improves road usability and ease of parking, but you can also choose to specify an extra quick steering rack if you plan to do most of your miles on the racetrack.

The wheels move up a notch in size, with 16- and 17-inch front and rear rims, respectively, taking 195/50R16 and 255/40ZR17 Avon ZZR tires as OEM. The truly enthusiastic can up-spec the Atom 4 with full carbon rims, saving some 16 kg (35 lb) of unsprung weight across the car.

To handle the extra power, the brakes get an upgrade as well, to 278 mm 2-piston vented fronts and 253 mm rears, and there's also an upgrade kit available that takes you up to 290 mm AP Racing discs all round, with alloy 4-piston calipers. You can also choose to option up with a dial in the cockpit that lets you adjust brake bias between the front and rear wheels for fine tuning.

The Ariel Atom 4 goes from 0-60 mph (96.5 km/h) in 2.8 seconds
The Ariel Atom 4 goes from 0-60 mph (96.5 km/h) in 2.8 seconds

It might be an open-top face melter, but the Atom's bodywork has been completely overhauled in search of superior aerodynamics. The results include a decrease in drag, extra downforce to help with high-speed cornering, and much better air delivery to the radiator, intercooler and engine air intakes.

The rollover protection hoop is now invisible under a cowl that covers the main air intake next to the driver's head, and a tiny "aero screen" abruptly forces air up over the driver's head, helping to minimize helmet lift and channel air toward that center intake.

Most of the bodywork can be optioned up to carbon fiber if the standard weight of 595 kg (1,312 lb) is too lardy for you. If it's you that's lardy and not the car, the cabin has been widened by 20 mm and lengthened by 50 mm to "accommodate the very widest range of users."

Ariel Atom 4: revised AIM dash and switchgear. Still no radio.
Ariel Atom 4: revised AIM dash and switchgear. Still no radio.

The lighting has been revised, with LED indicators, stop lights and taillights, daytime running lamps and halogen headlights with auto lighting capability. The tiny luggage cubby is a little less tiny, and the switchgear and instruments are new, with a full color AIM TFT screen, programmable shift lights and a track datalogger. Launch control and traction control are now options.

Pricing will start at £39,975 (US$52,800), which is a couple of thousand pounds up on the Atom 3.5 but well worth it if you believe you can use the extra power and handling. As well as being road legal in the UK, the Atom now meets European Small Series Type Approval (ESSTA) and Australian Design Rules (ADR), so it's now much easier to sell throughout Europe and Australia. Deliveries will start in the British spring of 2019.

In terms of sheer, raw driving experience, there's very little outside the kit car and track special world that comes close to what this thing offers. It's great to see Ariel continuing to punch way above its weight. Keep swinging, guys!

Source: Ariel

10 comments
f8lee
Now THIS, I want!
LordInsidious
So is this another ICE racer that gets beaten (in acceleration) by the model 3 Tesla in ludicrous mode?
yawood
Fantastic. Now I wait for all the comments from the electricity lovers who have no appreciation of the visceral pleasure of driving a fast ICE vehicle. Going faster in an electric vehicle would be easy but, oh, so boring.
Mike Kling
And the electrics that perform this well cost less than $55k?
Joshua Tulberg
Nice. But do you just lose your head in the event of a roll-over?
Derek Howe
I also enjoy driving ICE vehicles, but I prefer EV's. I don't think you've ever driven an EV, they offer a better driving experience then an ICE could ever hope to create.
Mr T
Hardly a practical vehicle for most people, and apart from performance you get nothing for your money. They are just dropping powerful engines in ultra light frames, of course it's going to be fast. It hardly compares to something like a Tesla, which is a full luxury vehicle without the need of a dino burning drive system. If I had that sort of cash, I know which I would be buying, and it wouldn't be the Atom.
Nygaard
Too bad it’s ugly. I know it’s not the point.
axio
I don't get it, why are you guys (3 + months ago I know) comparing the Atom to the Tesla...? This is designed for going fast AROUND A RACE TRACK ! Not in a straight line ! The Ariel would absolutely demolish any Tesla around a twisty race track..
Grunchy
No roll bar means this is a bad car. Ariel, do better please.