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Ariel Atom 3

I PREDICT A DIET (some text hidden)

By Jonathan Crouch

The Ariel Atom is still the most hardcore driving experience around. The third generation tweaks the details but doesn't diverge from the script. Jonathan Crouch reports

Ten Second Reviewword count: 48

Performance motoring doesn't get much rawer than the Ariel Atom. It's strictly a trackday car or a highdays and holidays treat. But on those days, you'd never want to be in anything else. Just make sure you always pack those earplugs to guard against that glorious, screaming engine.

Backgroundword count: 153

Purity of essence is what the Ariel Atom's all about. Anything that doesn't add to the driving experience gets ruthlessly junked. It's a formula that has served Ariel very well for a number of years and the third iteration of the Atom refines the ingredients a little further. The Atom is the brainchild of Simon Saunders, an engineer and automotive design lecturer who decided it was time to turn his lectures into reality. Remember the old jibe about teachers merely being able to talk the talk? Saunders gives lie to that one. The first generation Atom showed all sorts of design promise but was a notoriously wayward thing to drive. The second generation car refined things considerably without taking away the headbanger element. Now in its third iteration, the Ariel Atom is at last a car with properly sorted dynamics and all the minor teething troubles ironed out. There's no substitute for experience.

Driving Experienceword count: 245

By most conventional measures, a 300bhp car is packing a decent amount of clout. Take something like a Nissan Skyline GTR. With 286bhp on tap, it's enough to get most people juiced up but the power to weight ratio is the all important thing and the iconic Nissan performance coupe manages 180bhp per tonne. This was clearly not enough for Ariel. Let's move onto more serious machinery. A Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera scores 373bhp/tonne and Ferrari's astonishing Enzo manages 484bhp/tonne. How about getting really silly and going for the 987bhp Bugatti Veyron? That's 521bhp/ton for your £870,000 or so. To give you an idea of how rapid the Ariel Atom 3 is in its 300bhp guise, consider this. It 's good for 556bhp/tonne. That'll get it to 60mph in 2.9 seconds. 0-100-0mph can be notched off in under 10s. Phenomenal. The Atom 3 builds on the company's relationship with Honda, featuring the new Civic Type-R engine that has better low-down torque and a smoother power delivery, all controlled by a fly-by-wire throttle. The entry-level 2.0-litre i-VTEC remains normally aspirated producing an unchanged 245bhp, but for power-to-weight junkies the 300bhp supercharged version is the hot ticket. Along with the engine, Ariel gets the latest Civic's six-speed, close-ratio gearbox and there is also the option of a Quaife limited slip differential. There's also the option of Bilstein 10-way adjustable dampers in place of the standard five-way items, giving more options in terms of track performance and chassis adjustability.

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This is an excerpt from our full review.
To access the full content library please contact us on 0330 0020 227 or click here

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