What started out as an innovative concept built on an exoskeleton chassis in 1996 became the production Ariel Atom by 2000, first powered by a naturally aspirated 1.8-liter Rover K-series engine. For the Ariel Atom 2, the British company moved on to a supercharged Honda engine, tuning it further for the Atom 3 and 3.5R. The ultra-limited Atom 500 featured a 3.0-liter John Hartley-designed V8 engine and the 3S switched to Honda turbo lumps for America, while the European-spec Ariel Atom 4 launched in 2018 at Goodwood, powered by the 2.0-liter Type R engine with three-stage boost control as an option.
Now, the Atom 4 is ready to be enjoyed in the United States as well, built in South Boston, Virginia, and offered with 324 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque as standard. Or, if you’re really wanting that extra kick, Honda’s K20C i-VTEC turbo boosted to 354 horsepower is available as an option.
For suspension, Ariel North America’s latest road-legal track toy features double unequal length wishbones, pushrod operated inboard dampers, adjustable outboard rod ends, aluminum bellcranks and lightweight machined uprights, offering adjustment for ride height, toe and camber. The standard equipment includes Bilstein single adjustable dampers and two-piece Eibach springs, yet customers looking for the ultimate in body control can also opt for Bilstein’s MDS double adjustable dampers or Ohlins’ TTX 3-way units, race needle roller bellcranks and race-grade rod ends.
The steel tube chassis greatly exposed by those composite body panels is all bronze and TIG welded by hand, then phosphated and powder coated to a satin black finish. Honda’s K20C turbo-four is aided by a custom stainless steel exhaust system, ram air intake and Ariel’s dedicated control unit. Up to 354 horses go to the rear through a six-speed manual and an optional limited-slip differential. Push the middle pedal of Tilton’s aluminum milled box, and the Atom 4’s 290mm four-piston AP Racing brakes turn speed into heat with ease. Ariel uses twin master cylinders while cockpit-adjustable brake bias, track compound pads and two-piece rotors are available for the track enthusiasts.
Inside, Atom 4 buyers get a suede steering wheel and a TFT dash, which should confirm that this doorless wonder can hit 60 miles per hour in 2.8 seconds, 100 mph in just 6.8 and continue on to a top speed of 162 mph.
This Ariel-tuned Honda 2.0 delivers its standard 324 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and peak torque of 310 pound-feet from 3,000 rpm. Those looking for more, however, can choose Ariel’s three-stage variable boost control, upgrade to 354 horsepower and make use of adjustable traction control. The Atom 4 uses 16 and 17-inch wheels wrapped in Toyo R888R tires, yet a carbon package for both for the wheels and the minimalistic body panels is available. The panels can also be painted.
The Atom 4 is 11.54-feet long, 44.1-inches tall and 6.16-feet wide over a 94-inch wheelbase, with 63 and 63.6-inch tracks front to rear. Choose your options wisely, and the whole thing will also weigh just 1,312 pounds, including its standard windscreen, wiper kit and roll bar for America.
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