Home / Social media / News / The Honda-powered Ariel Atom 4R is a precision track machine - Top Gear gets a test session with it. -


The Ariel Atom hit the scene at the turn of the century and it quickly gained popularity amongst weekend track day enthusiasts. The car was purpose-built with one task in mind, to obliterate the competition on any decent circuit but with the ability to drive to and from the racetrack. The company is old, like really old, the first form of transport was the Ariel Ordinary back in 1871. Yes, that’s a cool 152 years ago. Sure there was no motor, but the Penny Farthing-style bike was the first all-metal bicycle with a lightweight steel frame, revolutionary and patented spoked wire wheels, rubber tyres and steering. The first powered vehicle from Ariel was the Ariel Tricycle in 1898, and this soon expanded to the first 4-wheeled powered vehicle in the form of the Ariel Quadricycle in 1901. So it’s safe to say these guys have more experience than most. These days the Ariel Atom is built by a single technician who has the responsibility to not only build the car, but also to do the road test and sign off that it’s ready for delivery, much like AMG does, but on steroids.  Customers who have ordered one are allowed to visit the British Ariel Motor Company premises in Crewkerne, Somerset, England to watch the build process on their ordered Atom. We’ve seen a few of these here in SA, and they’re properly fast cars, especially in the hands of a good driver. There would probably be more of them around if the Rand/Pound exchange rate wasn’t absolutely pathetic. There have been a few engine choices available for the Atom over the years, the first we saw here featured a K-series Rover engine that offered up just 142 kW, but with the power-to-weight it was fast. One of the local ones here was soon swapped to a turbocharged Honda powerplant that was weirdly a sign of the future.

The design of the Ariel Atom has evolved over the years, and the current version is not only amazingly fast with precise handling, but it’s also something very cool to look at. The new top dog is the Atom 4R, and it’s been given a turbocharged powerplant from Honda in the form of the 2.0 Litre iVTEC 4-cylinder engine as seen in the Honda Civic Type R. In this case, it no longer makes 235 kW and 420 Nm, it’s up at 298 kW with 500 Nm of torque. This is mated to a Quaife 6-speed sequential gearbox that sends the power to the rear rubber. “We continue to strive to evolve the Atom as the ultimate driver’s car, whether on road or track.  The 4R follows in the footsteps of the amazing Atom 3.5R and yet again moves the story on.  This really is an astonishing car of which we’re justifiably proud.” says Henry Siebert-Saunders, Director of Ariel. The aero and cooling have been updated and improved. And there’s an optional aero wing package that we’re sure all owners will want included in their build. With the bespoke automaker being based in the UK, it makes perfect sense that it would eventually end up in the hands of the Top Gear crew for a bit of rompy-pompy, and what you see here is the result of that testing. The car isn’t just thrashed around to create the typical Top Gear visuals, the car is properly tested and all aspects are discussed. You'll see just how fast the car can accelerate, and also how much mechanical grip it has, which is a lot. The Ariel Atom 4R isn’t a cheap toy, but it’s also a bargain when you consider everything you get in the package. Pricing starts at £64,950 + VAT, which sounds great if you’re in Europe, on our side of the world that equates to R 1,500,000 or so.

Take a look at the YouTube video where the chaps from Top Gear put the open top (and open sides and wheels) Ariel Atom 4R through its paces to see if the performance is as advertised. Anyone who's ever seen or heard of an Ariel Atom will know just how competent they are on track, and so there are some big expectations that the new big dog in the stable is the best version we've seen to date - and it certainly looks like it: FIRST DRIVE: Ariel Atom 4R – 400bhp, MIND-BENDING Performance | Top Gear

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