7 min read
14 Jul

The Atom is back with 400 horsepower and an attractive $85,000 price tag

Revving up the excitement at this year's Goodwood Festival of Speed is the stunning revelation of the Ariel Atom 4R. Ariel's director Henry Siebert Saunders described the new R model as "an absolutely remarkable car that we are rightfully proud of." 

This latest iteration of the iconic Ariel Atom series is a testament to cutting-edge engineering, boasting a reimagined powerhouse and a relentless pursuit of ultimate road and track performance. “We are constantly working to enhance the Atom as the ultimate driver's car, whether it's on the road or the track. The 4R builds upon the success of the incredible Atom 3.5R and takes the story even further," Saunders said. 

In this comprehensive article, we delve into the intricate details of the Atom 4R, showcasing its remarkable features, enhancements, and why it's the ultimate driver's dream.

Related: Your comprehensive guide to Formula One: Everything You Need To Know 

Bespoke Craftsmanship

Ariel Atom 4R craftmanship.

Ariel's unique approach to manufacturing shines through with the Atom 4R. Each car is meticulously hand-built to individual specifications by a single technician, ensuring that no two cars are alike. 

This bespoke approach extends beyond manufacturing, allowing customers to tailor their Atom 4R to their specific use and preferences through a wide range of options.

Precision Aerodynamics 

Ariel Atom 4R track car.

Ariel fine-tuned the Atom 4R's aerodynamics with the assistance of TotalSim and their Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) expertise. 

A groundbreaking interactive system known as BRAMBLE, developed in partnership with Ariel, enables precise tuning of aerodynamics and intake efficiency. 

The result is high downforce wings that balance the car without compromising on drag. Even the mudguards are optimized to contribute to downforce on the tires, demonstrating Ariel's meticulous attention to detail.

Atom 4R's Aerodynamic Brilliance

Ariel unveils the Atom 4R at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

"In 1999, we changed everyone's perception of what a lightweight sports car should be, the company wrote on its website. "It was called the Ariel Atom, and it set the standard by which performance cars [got] measured, regardless of price, and still does."  

They're not been corky. 

By updating the air intake geometry and cooling system, (especially, the more robust intercooler), Ariel successfully milked even more power from the Civic Type R turbo engine. 

However, the Atom 4R doesn't just stop at brute force; it's a finely tuned machine that pays meticulous attention to aerodynamics and cooling. Distinguished by new side pods housing additional cooling systems, this vehicle's visual appeal is complemented by the optional aero wing package and striking 4R graphics. 

These enhancements not only enhance the car's appearance but also contribute significantly to its performance on the road and track.

The Ariel Atom Has Come A Long Way Since Jeremy Clarkson

Ariel Atom 4R revealed.

Top Gear fans who’ve been around a while should fondly remember Jeremy Clarkson's legendary review of the Ariel Atom in 2007. Thankfully, that was thankfully nearly a decade before the infamous punching of producer Oisin Tymon while on air, ending with Clarkson’s departure from the BBC. 

Back then, You could order your Atom with less than $26,000 ("under £20,000"), and that money was good for an impressive 296 horsepower, thanks to its supercharged Honda Civic Type-R engine. 

Fast forward sixteen years later and the new Ariel Atom delivers 405 horsepower and demands a heart-thumping $84,147 (£64,950) starting price. We like to blame the dollar gap solely on inflation.

The Atom 4R Builds On The 3.5R’s Mind-Blowing Performance

Ariel Atom 4R performance.

The heart of the Atom 4R is its turbocharged Honda engine, sourced from the Civic Type R. Ariel engineers have worked their magic, resulting in a 25% increase in both power and torque. 

With over 400 horsepower at your disposal, the Atom 4R delivers astonishing in-gear acceleration and track performance while maintaining the legendary Ariel and Honda reliability. Drivers can toggle between three turbo boost positions, offering versatility for various driving conditions. 

In other words, beneath the Atom 4R's sleek exterior lies an Ariel-tuned Honda Type-R 2.0-liter iVTEC 4-cylinder engine. This remarkable powerplant has undergone a significant transformation, now producing a staggering 405 horsepower, with torque levels reaching an impressive 370 lb-ft. 

The boost in power is complemented by a cutting-edge paddle shift sequential gearbox, redefining the driving experience for enthusiasts and racers alike.

The 4R's Seamless Gear Changes 

Ariel Atom 4R is the ultimate driver's car.

The Atom 4R is equipped with a Quaife 6-speed sequential gearbox, featuring gearchange via a pneumatic paddle shift electronic system. 

This technology allows for lightning-fast downshifts (5 in less than a second) and clutchless upshifts. Drivers can maintain total control without ever taking their hands off the steering wheel, thanks to features like adjustable traction and launch control.

Related: Highest Horsepower Cars: Top 10 Most Powerful Cars In The World Right Now 

The Atom 4R's Advanced Control Systems 

Ariel Atom 4R's technology.

For the first time in an Ariel, the Atom 4R features switchable ABS with 12 positions, offering complete control in various driving conditions. 

Launch and traction control are also at the driver's fingertips, ensuring a tailored driving experience. The Atom 4R can even be equipped with a full track timing system with video capabilities and a reverse camera for added convenience and safety. 

The 4R's Advanced Cooling System

Ariel's commitment to extracting maximum power from the engine is exemplified through an all-new cooling and intercooler system. 

This innovative setup has boosted engine cooling by a remarkable 55%. A larger air/air intercooler in the right side pod increases intercooling area by an impressive 75%, ensuring optimal performance even during intense track use.

Atom 4R's Unparalleled Performance 

Ariel Atom 4R dampers.

The Atom 4R delivers awe-inspiring performance figures, with a sprint to 60mph in less than 2.7 seconds and a 0-100mph time of under 6.5 seconds. Its top speed peaks at an exhilarating 170 mph. 

However, it's not just about straight-line speed; the Atom 4R excels in in-gear acceleration and track performance, making it one of the most rewarding driver's cars ever.

How Is The New Ariel Atom 4R’s Road Manners?

Ariel Atom 4R review.

We'd like to take our hats off to the 4R's excellent suspension. Ariel built the vehicle's suspension system around the standard Atom pushrod setup but incorporates Ohlins TTX36 dampers, specifically designed for the Atom 4R. 

Drivers can choose from optimized Ohlins springs for either road or track use. Machined aluminum uprights, aero section wishbones, and pushrods contribute to reduced unsprung weight and drag, further enhancing the Atom 4R's handling.

The Atom 4R’s Impressive Power-To-Weight Ratio

Ariel Atom 4R power-to-weight ratio.

400 horsepower may not seem like a lot in 2023 until you consider the Atom 4R's weight - 1,250 lbs. Now, divide the weight by the horsepower and you get an astonishing ratio of just 3.125 pounds per horsepower. Not even the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport could boast of such impressive ratio.

The Atom 4R's Lightweight Performance 

Ariel Atom 4R brakes.

The Atom 4R is engineered for performance, down to the last gram. Carbon ceramic brakes with AP Racing 4-pot calipers provide exceptional braking performance, resistance to fade, and reduced wear. 

The carbon wheels, purpose-built for the Atom, take unsprung mass reduction to the next level, resulting in a total weight savings of 26 kilograms compared to the standard car.

A Track-Ready Machine For Regular Roads

Ariel Atom 4R carbon fiber.

The Atom 4R comes equipped with 6-point race harnesses for both the driver and their sole passenger. There's even a track-timing system you could integrate into the dashboard to enhance the race-ready attitude. 

Since Ariel graciously thought of regular driving conditions, it included a reverse camera for you know what for. It seems like a deliberate reminder that every day isn't trackday. 

Something else worth remembering is that the aero bits you see in the images are optional features included in the aero package. This package, will set you back a couple more dough, but enthusiasts with a need for speed won't mind very much. 

The experience is certainly worth the money, more so because the automaker says the package (developed in partnership with TotalSlim) won't incur significant drag. Be as it may, it's obvious that the aerodynamic components is most likely to blame for the 4R's slightly slower acceleration times compared to its 3.5R predecessor.

The Atom 4R Is Yours For The Asking For Just $85,000

Ariel Atom 4R price and availability.

If you can see yourself strapped in the driver’s seat of this time-attack machine, we strongly suggest making your move immediately. 

We’d head straight to Ariel's booth at Goodwood. Not only has the 3.5R already built a reputation that guarantees high demand for these vehicles, but the 4R's arguably attractive $84,000 starting price also ensures Atom’s waiting list couldn't get any shorter. 

In the world of high-performance vehicles, the Ariel Atom 4R stands as a beacon of innovation and excellence. Its blend of power, aerodynamics, and advanced technology creates an unparalleled driving experience. 

As Ariel continues to push the boundaries of what's possible in the automotive world, the Atom 4R cements its legacy as a true icon of the road and track, delivering serious fun for those who dare to embrace it.

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