It’s the fastest Ariel Atom yet!

Scheduled to make a debut at the 2018 Goodwood Festival of Speed, the new Ariel Atom 4 comes with an all-new design reimagined from the ground up, a new engine, new suspension geometry, and more speed than ever. As a fourth generation vehicle, the new Ariel Atom introduces us with a delicate set of improvements focused on further refinement of the driving dynamics while offering more in terms of comfort and daily usability at the same time.

The new Ariel Atom 4 Reimagined

2019 Ariel Atom 4
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By redesigning the tubular chassis with beefier main and diagonal tubes the stiffness and rigidity of the Atom have been improved by a healthy 15 percent.

“The Atom 4 is the biggest change to the car since we originally released it in 1999. In fact, there are only three parts carried over from the last Atom: the clutch, brake pedals, and the fuel cap” Ariel CEO, Simon Saunders, said in a statement. With an all-new approach to design formed after closely following the drivers’ and buyers’ reactions to the previous iterations of the Atom, Saunders and his team created a far more usable car. Ok, the Ariel will remain more of a Sunday-drive treat than anything else, but now you will go further, with more comfort, while safer than before. By redesigning the tubular chassis with beefier main and diagonal tubes the stiffness and rigidity of the Atom have been improved by a healthy 15 percent. This change, most notably, positively affected safety as the Atom now can exceed the requirements for a full-frontal crash at 31 mph. Furthermore, the design has been tested for the rear impact as well. It passed. Finally, the third most important safety feature is a roll bar now sitting hidden under the intake cover. This is a rather nice addition which gives a bit of a cleaner and leaner look to the otherwise madly spartan exterior.

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The Ariel Atom comes standard with Avon ZZR tires now measuring 195/50 R16 at the front and 255/40 R17 at the back

Increasing torsional stiffness opened yet another Pandora’s box for the designers. They had a sort of an epiphany - “an Atom can be even more precise, more fun”. Engineers set out to create a car which had less body roll, less dive and all around better-leveled ride compared with the previous Atoms. This led to the integration of beefier wheels, new suspension components with changed geometry, and optional semi-active Ohlins dampers. Yet, even the standard Billstein units will do wonders. The Ariel Atom comes standard with Avon ZZR tires now measuring 195/50 R16 at the front and 255/40 R17 at the back. Obviously, with so much meat, new geometry for the double-wishbone setup with pushrod operated dampers, and less body roll than before, the Ariel Atom 4 will grant you with an all-new cornering experience which is sharper and edgier than ever before. Ariel admitted the new car has more mechanical grip than any other Atom to date - including the 2013 Atom 3.5.

You will be able to enjoy it more as well. The new carbon tub and stiffer tubular chassis provide more room inside. Plus, the seats can be independently adjusted - this comfort feature will be appreciated by many. More important than that is the new steering rack which shortens the turning radius of the Atom. Drivers used to struggle with this before. Now, the Atom will be as brisk as it looks. Changes like these gave the Atom 4 a bit of a different character. Don’t worry, it is still a hunkered down, hardcore street machine, but it is far more suitable for humans than before. This is something you must appreciate.

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The new carbon tub and stiffer tubular chassis provide more room inside.

Furthering the cause of comfort, the new Atom received a higher capacity fuel tank (now at 10.5 gallons) which improved the range to 300 miles. Obviously, you won’t be visiting the gas station that often anymore. But when you do, fuel level and all the other information will be shown on an all-new TFT color screen behind the suede-covered steering wheel. See, luxury.

Better aerodynamics

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Thanks to a rather unique setup of positioning the engine all the way back, the Ariel Atom has never faced aero challenges experienced by cars with engines up front.

Thanks to a rather unique setup of positioning the engine all the way back, the Ariel Atom has never faced aero challenges experienced by cars with engines up front. Nevertheless, the Atom has never been the best aerodynamically suited car either. For the sake of that, designers went all smart with the Atom 4. The new car sits the cooling radiator underneath the car - just after the tub. All other body surfaces (as few as there are) have been remodeled as well. Apparently, the wind deflectors upfront channel the air into the air intake rather than dispersing it without any meaningful purpose. This, allegedly, helps the drivers as well, as the wind does not end up blowing in their faces as much as before. Yet, I am sure you’d need a facelift after a spirited drive without a helmet.

The engine from the Latest Honda Civic Type R

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This lightweight machine, thus, features a 2.0-liter, turbocharged, four-cylinder engine developing 316 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque

“Type R engines have proven themselves in Atoms over the years with dependable power and absolutely faultless reliability, even under race conditions,” Saunders was clear about their power of choice for the Atom.

This lightweight machine, thus, features a 2.0-liter, turbocharged, four-cylinder engine developing 316 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. This makes it so fast that Ariel had to install new brakes with 278mm front and 253mm rear discs to basically make it safe enough. As always, the power is transferred to the rear wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox and a limited slip differential. This is music to my ears.

So, low weight, high power, RWD, and a manual transmission. What can possibly go wrong? If nothing does go wrong, the Atom 4 will beat the Ferrari 812 Superfast in its quest to 60 mph which lasts for 2.8 seconds. In the Atom 4, 100 mph comes in 6.8 seconds and, if you have enough courage to keep the foot planted in the sixth gear, that new instrument cluster will show 162 mph.

Conclusion

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The Ariel Atom 4 price starts at $53,000 in the U.K.

The Ariel Atom 4 price starts at $53,000 in the U.K. It is an expensive car, but it does come with the performance figures of supercars. Sure, the top speed isn’t yet there, and it never will be, but the cornering abilities and the sheer hard-core, unhinged nature of the car do come as a neat and proper substitute. Also, the Atom 4 can be equipped with supercar-worthy stuff - such as composite wheels which save an additional 35 pounds, and it will be rather rare on the streets. The Somerset-based producer plans to manufacture only 100 cars per year despite the Atom being available in Europe, Australasia, and North and South America.

Further reading

2015 Ariel Atom 3S
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Read our full review on the 2015 Ariel Atom 3S.

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Read more Ariel news.

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Read more Goodwood Festival of Speed.

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