Home » The 400-Horsepower Ariel Atom 4R Is Here To Take Your Face Off

The 400-Horsepower Ariel Atom 4R Is Here To Take Your Face Off

Ariel Atom 4r Topshot
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Let’s say that you want a very fast car. What might be the move? For most people, a BMW M3 qualifies as very fast, as does a Dodge Challenger Hellcat, as does a Chevrolet Corvette. But what if your brain looks like a friction circle? What if you measure tire life in days rather than miles? What if, whenever you approach a window, you’re overcome with the urge to lick it? If you’d rank setting a record at your local track above your wedding day on the ledger of life’s important moments, Ariel now has the car for you. It’s called the Atom 4R; it was unveiled at this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed, and it’s definitely not for casuals.

Ariel Atom 4r Intake

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Under the, hmm, well it isn’t a hood per se, sits a K20C1 two-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine from a Honda Civic Type R boosted to 400 horsepower. That’s a big figure, so here’s a small one for contrast: 1,250. That’s the weight of this Atom in pounds. Divide one by the other and you end up with a mere 3.125 pounds per horsepower. That’s more power-to-the-weight than a Bugatti Veyron Super Sport. If you’d expect that to require some serious supporting hardware, you’d be absolutely right.

Ariel Atom 4r Front Wing

A Quaife six-speed sequential gearbox lets a keen driver bang off supersonic upshifts without using the clutch and can drop five full gears in less than one second. Öhlins TTX36 dampers forged by Swedish wizards take the place of standard units. Optional wings the size of park benches look set to epoxy this minimalist machine to the track, never mind standard glue. If that all sounds impressive, wait until you hear this: Ariel has somehow managed to shave weight from the Atom, which is a bit like drawing water from an empty glass.

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Ariel Atom 4r Carbon Fiber Wheel And Carbon Ceramic Brake

Yes, the Ariel Atom 4R comes with carbon fiber wheels and carbon ceramic brakes that shave rotating unsprung mass, 57.3 pounds of it to be precise. That might not sound like much, but we are talking about an intercontinental ballistic piece of scaffolding here, rather than a comfy cushy road car with air-con and all that.

As for straight-line speed, zero-to-60 is claimed to come up in 2.7 seconds, good enough to keep up with most supercars. Find a stretch of tarmac without limitations, and you’ll leave pretty much any comparably-priced car in the dust with a zero-to-100 mph time under 6.5 seconds. Phenomenally quick figures, but what did you expect from half a ton of boost, grit, and speed? If, for any reason whatsoever, you want less speed, Ariel will kindly let you dial the boost back to lower power levels, which seems unusually sensible for such an unhinged machine. I guess you can’t become a repeat customer if your insides end up spattered across three counties like a Jackson Pollock painting after misjudging a corner that definitely shouldn’t be taken flat.

Ariel Atom 4r Rear

So, the Ariel Atom 4R is obscenely fast, unbelievably light, and packs hardware grassroots racing teams would dream of. Did you really expect anything else? However, what you might not expect is the price tag. This hardcore skeletal monster doesn’t cost $150,000. It doesn’t even cost $100,000. It will only set you back £64,950 before VAT, or $85,030 at current conversion rates. That’s Porsche 718 Cayman S with a handful of options money. Sure, you aren’t getting a windscreen, respect from aspiring laymen, or anywhere at all without being at least a bit sweaty, but you also aren’t getting much faster for the money. Are you brave enough?

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(Photo credits: Ariel Motor Company)

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Myk El
Myk El
11 months ago

This 100% is not a car for me. At no point in my life would I have entertained such notions. However, I am glad that it exists.

MEK
MEK
11 months ago

Looks like a fantastic way to die… at least for someone of my meager abilities. I feel like this is the kind of car that if you want to buy one, the factory rep takes you down to the track in the base model Atom and says, “Ok, give me three laps.” and you get judged before they let you sign on the line for this armature eating monster.

Dsa Lkjh
Dsa Lkjh
11 months ago

Look at the close-up picture of the wheel. Lovely carbon fibre wheel and then the heaviest wheel bolts/nuts they could find.

I recently had to look at a Tesla Model S wheel nut (lug nut in American I think?) and it’s been light-weighted really nicely. And that’s on a really heavy car.

Even a standard 17mm AF open nut would be lighter. And cheaper.

Scott
Scott
11 months ago

I’m absolutely not brave (or foolish) enough to drive it… I’m long-since aware of my own mortality and don’t need reminders. However, I’m deeply delighted that it exists! I love the bare-bones ‘just the facts m’am’ nature of Ariel cars.

Though I took the CHP weekend course and got an M1 license years ago, and I’m almost as fond of weird old motorcycles as I am of weird old cars, I’ll probably never own one, since I live in LA and everything hurts already. I tell myself that were I ever to live someplace rural (i.e.: without so many inattentive drivers) I might get an old Yamaha or Honda bike, just for tooling around on emptyish back roads. What’s more likely though, is that I’d get a used Ariel Atom or Caterham 7 clone with a much more modest/base powerplant.

Just to have a bit of steel and plastic between me and the tarmac. 😉

Skylrw
Skylrw
11 months ago

Had the opportunity to take part on track day with Atom 3 with “only” 300 hp. The limits of it where insane. Can’t even imagine how big your kahonas would have to be drive this even at 8/10ths…..

Chris D
Chris D
11 months ago

Let’s hand it over to our tame racing driver and see what he can do with it.

Duane Cannon
Duane Cannon
11 months ago

I once drove a Brunton Super Stalker a friend had. 450 hp LS crate motor, 1,600 lbs. Just an absolute explosion of controlled acceleration. Open cockpit, that thunderous exhaust exiting right beside you, and the constant smell of burning rubber. The ultimate death machine.

Toecutter
Toecutter
11 months ago

This is a much better buy than the Porsche 718 Cayman S. My only gripe is that its drag isn’t low. I’d be willing to add 100-150 lbs to get rid of all the wings/spoilers/scoops and have a slippery streamliner body with roof made for this thing. What it would lose in cornering prowess, it would gain on the longer straights, and could now offer trunk space and other concessions to practicality, without really giving up its savage nature.

But damn would I love to flog this thing around.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
11 months ago
Reply to  Toecutter

You do know that efficiency isn’t a major concern for literally anybody buying this, right?

I argue that it really would lose a part of its nature- to me, a lot of the appeal of an Atom is looking down through the car at the road.

Brandon Forbes
Brandon Forbes
11 months ago
Reply to  Toecutter

So… You would change everything about it and then you would like it? Also, engines need to breathe, as do radiators and brakes need cooling, getting rid of scoops would not end well. I also do not see where you would expect to put a trunk without lengthening it, that’s where the engine is.

Toecutter
Toecutter
11 months ago
Reply to  Brandon Forbes

I like the car as it is too, but think it could be improved upon without greatly taking away from what it is. Scoops can be replaced with NACA ducts. NACA ducts minimize added drag while still allowing the airflow volume needed for engine cooling, but to fit them would require a body. There is room for a frunk on the Mk I Ariel Atoms and they came with a very small one. With added body work, a larger frunk could be fit, perhaps making its storage volume comparable to a Miata. The body work I proposed would by default lengthen the car, even if the wheelbase would not change. I’m thinking along the lines of a Panhard CD Peugeot 66C LeMans race car with a 0.13 drag coefficient. Go for maximum slipperiness to compliment the car’s low mass, so that there’s NOTHING slowing it down. The Atom’s drag definitely slows it down once the speeds get into the triple digits, but having a slippery body would keep that acceleration curve from tapering toward flatness as early, as well as allow a much higher top speed with taller gearing.

The car does so many things right. It’s just missing that last step to maximize its performance on the straights at high speeds.

If I had an Atom, as it is, I’d want to daily that shit. But I would like a version that’s more livable in terms of exposure to the elements. I don’t need AC, but being fully enclosed with a roof, windshield, roll-up windows, and some trunk space would be nice. If I had an Atom and a bunch of money, I’d try to develop an aftermarket body kit that would do this. I bet with everything installed, weight could still be under 1,400 lbs. But now you’ve cut the horsepower required to maintain 100 mph on the highway perhaps to 1/3 of what it currently is, which would almost triple the fuel economy at that speed in the process, and greatly increase the available acceleration at that speed. Basically, gain 0.1-0.2 seconds to your 0-60 mph time, in exchange for chopping a second or more off your 0-100 mph time, and at speeds over 100 mph, greatly increasing your acceleration rate.

Last edited 11 months ago by Toecutter
Brandon Forbes
Brandon Forbes
11 months ago
Reply to  Toecutter

That still completely changes the mission of this car. It’s a track weapon, and needs to be able to stick to the road and corner fast. It’s not intended to be a 100+ mph car regularly, it’s meant to be something that makes an Elise look like a luxury SUV. I think there’s a market for both, but would never want Ariel to neuter the Atom with body work and a roof.

Toecutter
Toecutter
11 months ago
Reply to  Brandon Forbes

It would indeed no longer be an Atom. But it would still be a track weapon, and depending upon the track, the streamliner version could have the advantage. Downforce won’t help you much if the corners are so tight you only go around them at 20-50 mph anyway. The Atom’s downforce increases as speed does, and it is an exponential function. On a track with long high-speed straights juxtaposed with tight low-speed corners interrupting them, the streamliner would have an advantage because it could take advantage of its low drag to achieve higher speeds, while the low-speed corners would make downforce useless. On a track with lots of medium to high-speed corners, the Atom would have the advantage due to the downforce increasing the maximum possible cornering speed.

Scott
Scott
11 months ago
Reply to  Toecutter

Actually Toecutter, I understand your intent and agree with it. Not that I’d want Ariel to drastically alter the Atom, but it’d be lovely if they or someone else offered a modified one (or a kit) to enclose it somewhat and add practicality for a bit of cargo and weather protection. In case you wanted to use it for a quick run to Trader Joe’s for example. 😉

I know it’s probably not quite what you had in mind, but I suspect someone somewhere right now is 3D printing some plastic panels to slap a body of sorts onto an Atom. I picture a cross between a belly tank racer and an armadillo, since overlapping the panels to form scales would allow use of a smaller, non-commercial printer. 🙂

Hoonicus
Hoonicus
11 months ago
Reply to  Scott

Beast Alphahttps://www.rezvanimotors.com › beast-alpha-x-1

An evolutionary addition to the lineup, the Rezvani Beast Alpha pairs extreme performance with stunning design and innovative Sidewinder doors.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
11 months ago

Mr. Wayne, paging Mr. Wayne. Your new car is ready.

ApexAlexandros
ApexAlexandros
11 months ago

So like this will be way pricier if/when it comes across the pond right? Because right now a base Ariel Atom 4 is like 82k already in the USA.

Hugh Crawford
Hugh Crawford
11 months ago

“respect from aspiring laymen”
I’m having a vexatious interval of cogitation here and am coming up with nada.

Doctor Nine
Doctor Nine
11 months ago

So, let’s say you have a terminal cancer diagnosis. And your 401K is flush. Kids all have great full time jobs. Your spouse is set with their own 401K of similar width and depth. No one’s going to tell you how you have to live those last few months.

I’m thinking, maybe flaming out in an Ariel Atom 4R isn’t a bad way to go.

Maybe a few twisties, and then balls-out into a barrier. I dunno…

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
11 months ago
Reply to  Doctor Nine

I’m thinking you would want to keep driving it. I can only imagine the variety of gleeful chortles, smug chuckles, and downright squeaks I would produce behind that wheel

Doctor Nine
Doctor Nine
11 months ago
Reply to  TOSSABL

I once read something about the perspective of the Nahuatl (what Europeans refer to as Uto-Aztecan) spiritual tradition, which claimed that, if you died right at the peak of a sufficiently intense emotional experience, you would just continue ad infinitum in that moment. Shooting through time forever, like a brilliant ray of light… shining in ecstacy, or agony, or whatever consumed you, finally, at the end.

So yeah. You’d keep driving it.. into eternity… Righteous.

Óscar Morales Vivó
Óscar Morales Vivó
11 months ago

I assume this is not road legal?

Bobfish
Bobfish
11 months ago

Not road-sane by any measure, but I checked the website and yes, with creative registration, this vehicle could mechanically separate your Doordash order to you on our regular roads apparently…..

Óscar Morales Vivó
Óscar Morales Vivó
11 months ago
Reply to  Bobfish

I feel like I’d be in the market for something halfway between this and a Caterham, but less track toy and more mountain road corner carver.

ILikeBigBolts
ILikeBigBolts
11 months ago

Yes, please. I have irrationally wanted one of these ever since I watched Clarkson’s face go all flappy on Top Gear.

i wonder how much cash it would take to have somebody engineer a “roof” so I could pretend it was a sensible winter car…

MATTinMKE
MATTinMKE
11 months ago
Reply to  ILikeBigBolts

Jacket and a hat go a long way in the winter. Just sayin…

SkyRise
SkyRise
11 months ago
Reply to  ILikeBigBolts

You could get a Palatov D2.
https://palatov.com/cars/d2/

He originally had an Atom, and apparently improved on it greatly. It has a roof option. And it has a V8.

Or, if you’re feeling fashionable, a Jannarelly Design 1:
https://www.jannarelly.com/

Last edited 11 months ago by SkyRise
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