We'd love to see Clarkson's face after trying the Ariel Atom 4
It took a few years, but it's finally available globally!
I'm sure you all know more than enough about the Ariel Atom. It was a car made famous by what it did to Jeremy Clarkson's face on Top Gear years and years ago and has since passed into legend as one of the best and rawest driver-focused cars you can get. Other models have since appeared such as the go-anywhere Nomad and the new Ace motorcycle, but the Atom has remained and been continuously updated over the years. The Atom 4 isn't exactly a new car (it was launched a few years ago and started being delivered to customers in 2019), but it wasn't until this year when it finally became a globally-sold model thanks to finally becoming homologated for the US market.
The Atom 4 may look pretty much exactly the same as every other Atom before, but it is genuinely an all-new car that shares only minor parts with previous Atoms. There are a lot of changes under the skin though. The chassis is 15% stiffer than the old Atom, the wheelbase is 2 inches longer than before to create more room for the driver and passenger and there's a brand new engine lifted straight from the current-generation Honda Civic Type R that produces either 320 hp or 350 hp (depending on whether you specify it with Ariel's optional Performance Package). In a car as insanely light and no-frills as the Atom 4, that Honda-powered shove allows it to go from 0-60 in 2.8 seconds, 0-100 in 6.8 seconds and eventually reach a top speed of 162 mph. That's some seriously insane performance, but it's wrapped up in a package that's more driveable than before thanks to a re-engineered suspension and steering rack that's more accomodating and the ability to dial back the power when you're just going for a Sunday drive.
Whilst the exterior may look pretty much the same as it always has, every panel has been meticulously re-engineered to reduce drag, improve downforce and improve airflow into the air intakes and intercooler for better performance all-round. The aero balance of the car has also been considerably shifted to make the Atom 4 easier to drive on the limit than previous Atoms, something which people who have never driven a car as hardcore as this would probably welcome very much! Interestingly, US market cars get a small windshield as standard, whilst the ones being sold for us Brits do not; I'd assume it's part of the homologation rules for the US.
Inside the Atom 4, the no-frills philosophy may remain unchanged but there have actually been a lot of good improvements. The Atom 4 gets an entirely new switch panel that puts all the controls closer to the driver, something that helps with the ergonomics of the car both on the road and on the track. There's a new central display as well that's used for everything from setting up the car for different road and track environments to showing the rear view from the optional reversing camera (an option you'd probably be wise to tick, considering the huge air intake behind you!). There's also the effects of the lengthening of the wheelbase by 2 inches which creates a noticeably more roomy cabin; this is something that taller drivers will especially be happy with!
Part of the whole philosophy of Ariel as a company is that every car is supposed to be unique to its owner. The Atom is no exception to this, coming with a huge selection of cosmetic and performance options. Want to have stainless steel or bare carbon fibre parts? Ariel can do that for you. Can you really not stand not having a windshield and want one like the US market cars? Say no more. Want different damper setups because you live somewhere where the roads are a bit harsh? No problem, Ariel have you covered. Want to have competition parts put on it so you can have a track day monster? That is completely possible.
The only question we have left is if Jeremy Clarkson has had a go in this latest version of the Atom left. If he does, I'm sure he'll be very happy with it. His face probably won't thank him later though...