Ariel has unveiled its new Atom 4, ahead of a global debut at this weekend’s Goodwood Festival of Speed.
Although it looks rather familiar, the Atom 4 is almost entirely brand new. Ariel’s owner, Simon Saunders, says that the new car retains just three parts from the previous Atom: the brake and clutch pedals; and the fuel filler cap.
The most significant change is the Atom’s engine. Ariel has always used the engine from the Honda Civic Type R for the Atom, succeeding the earlier Rover K-Series. It’s worked on the engines a bit, to provide around 245hp for the middle models, and supercharged it for the top model. But Honda has gone down the turbocharging route with recent Civics, and Ariel has had to adapt.
This means that the Atom 4 comes as standard with the 2-liter, turbocharged engine from the current Civic Type R — the first turbocharged model in Atom history. With an Ariel-developed ECU, this is good for 320hp and 310lbft, in a car weighing 1,310lb.
Performance is obviously stellar, with 60mph coming up in just 2.8 seconds, and 100mph in 6.8s. That’s partly thanks to a new optional launch control and traction control system. The Atom 4 will top out at 162mph, with improved aerodynamics helping it along despite the obvious deficiencies of the open-wheel design in that department.
The characteristic open chassis of the Atom is also new. The tubing is larger in diameter, and increases the torsional rigidity by 15%. Eagle-eyed readers will spot the roll hoop is missing too. That’s now hidden under the “bodywork” around the air intake.
One of the benefits of the redesigned chassis is a lot more room in the cabin. That means that the one-piece seats give way to some more normal, independent driver and passenger seats.
There’s a new transparent screen across the front of the cabin. This wind deflector gently guides air up towards the air intake and also over the occupants’ heads. Ariel says that this reduces the lift experienced by those who wear helmets when driving their Atoms.
You’ll be able to go further in the Atom 4 too. The fuel tank is now a 40-liter item, allowing a range of up to 300 miles, if your right foot allows it.
The suspension system remains, with inboard Eibach springs and Bilstein dampers. Ariel has revised the suspension geometry to reduce squat and dive, while improving the Atom’s low-speed turning circle. There’s new, larger wheels — 16-inch at the front, 17-inch at the rear — with optional carbon wheels reducing weight by half. Ariel fits Avon ZZR tires as standard.
Braking comes from a new setup with 278mm discs at the front and 253mm at the rear, each with two-piston calipers. There’s an optional big-brake kit from AP, with 290mm discs.
Unusually, Ariel has taken steps to get full European Series Type Approval and Australian Design Rules certification. This means that it can sell the car through Europe and Oceania, while Ariel North America will build the car under license in the Americas.
UK prices start at £39,975. Deliveries will begin early in 2019, as Ariel looks to build around 100 Atom 4s a year, all by hand.