Atom bomb… A new Ariel Atom? That’s next year’s trackdays sorted, then…
This is the all-New Ariel Atom 4. At a glance it may look near-identical to the three Atoms that have come before, but closer inspection reveals a host of significant changes under the (minimalist) skin.
The fourth-generation Atom features a new chassis and engine, revised suspension, and new, very 21st century additions such as optional carbonfibre wheels and a new TFT driver’s display behind the steering wheel. The car’s core ideology is much the same as before, however, keeping the Atom exactly where we want it, and that’s focusing on offering the most scintillating driving experience possible, on road and track.
Set for production in the spring of next year, this is all you need to know about 2019’s most exciting new track car.
The supercharged 2-litre Honda K20Z engine used in previous Atoms has been swapped for a different 2-litre Honda unit: the turbocharged K20C, as fitted to the current Civic Type R. Power is rated at 320bhp, with 310lb ft of torque available at 3000rpm.The switch to a turbocharged motor will mean the loss of the previous car’s ferocious top end and addictive supercharger whine, but the new turbo rush could bring its own character to this latest Atom.
|HOW THE ATOM 4 COMPARES|
|Model||ARIEL ATOM 4||ARIEL ATOM 3.5||CATERHAM SEVEN 620S|
|Engine||In-line 4-cyl, 1996cc,||In-line 4-cyl, 1998cc,||In-line 4-cyl, 1999cc,|
|Power||320bhp @ 6500rpm||310bhp @ 8400rpm||310bhp @ 7700rpm|
|Torque||310lb ft @ 3000rpm||169lb ft @ 7200rpm||219lb ft @ 7350rpm|
|Weight||595kg (dry)||550kg (dry)||610kg (dry)|
|Power-to-weight||546bhp/ton (dry)||573bhp/ton (dry)||516bhp/ton (dry)|
|On sale||Spring 2019||Now||Now|
The 2019 Atom 4 shares the same type of exoskeletal chassis as previous iterations, but it has, according to Ariel, been thoroughly redesigned for the new car. Utilising larger-diameter tubular steel for the main structure, the chassis is bronze-welded by hand and boasts a 15 per cent increase in rigidity over the Atom 3’s. The body work has also been honed, reducing drag and improving the overall aero balance over the car. The aeroscreen has been revised, too, now more effectively funnelling air into the top-mounted intake.
Inside, there have been a number of ergonomic changes. Firstly, the A tom’s traditional joined seats have been replaced with individual buckets, allowing further refinement of the driving position. The cockpit itself is slightly longer and wider, too, so can now accommodate bigger occupants. The instruments have also been updated, the old car’s LCD digital display having been replaced with a colour TFT screen, which brings with it much greater functionality, including the ability to tailor the display for road or track driving.
The Atom 4 retains the inboard pushrod suspension that has been in continual development since the original Atom’s concept ion nearly 20 years ago, but t his latest car introduces new geometry that aims to reduce squat and dive under acceleration and braking and minimise roll at speed. All-new Bilstein dampers are utilised as standard, while an optional Ohlins package is currently in development and will be available as an option.
Above left: turbo engine produces 10bhp and 141lb ft more than outgoing supercharged unit. Left: heavily redesigned chassis is 15percent stiffer.
“The previous car’s ferocious top end will be lost, but the new turbo rush could bring its own character”