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1,300-Pound Civic Type R-Powered Rocketship!

Ariel Atom announces the production of version 4 of their street-legal racecar.

Greg Fink
Oct 15, 2020
Editor: Rodrez

Rodrez: From a distance, the Ariel Atom, which now begins production of its 4th iteration, is just a lightweight tube chassis with a capable engine on board. Of course it accelerates like crazy, it weighs much less than your average sporty, road-going vehicle and yeah, it's going to handle incredibly well due to its low center of gravity and wide stance, as compared to its pilot's quarters. Look closer, however, and realize just how well-engineered and incredibly clever the bits and pieces are which makeup one of the most exhilarating vehicles of our time actually is. Its racecar dynamics, high-quality aftermarket goods and eye-wateringly fast dash in a straight line or side-to-side action simply can't be denied.

Ariel Atom 4 Driver Side Front View Photo 21/21   |   1,300-Pound Civic Type R-Powered Rocketship!

You're going to gripe about the pricing when you consider that something in the same price range would include outstanding performance but also offer, you know, shelter from the elements. The sort of person that would shell out the thousands needed to bring one of these rockets home has a few other cars in their stable that they can choose from and dodging bad weather days isn't a concern. With that said, here's a look at the next generation Ariel Atom, powered by Honda's beloved turbocharged K20C1 found in the current FK8 Type R.

All New and Improved

Greg Fink: Despite its familiar looks, the Ariel Atom 4 shares only three parts with its predecessor: the clutch pedal, brake pedal, and fuel cap. In other words, this is an all-new iteration of the company's famously analog sports car.

Ariel Atom 4 Driver Side Profile Photo 21/21   |   1,300-Pound Civic Type R-Powered Rocketship!

Although Ariel initially announced the model more than two years ago at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, the British brand is finally kicking off production of the two-seat Atom 4 in the United States. Fortunately, it seems the American-made model mirrors its overseas counterpart.

Ariel Atom 4 Civic Type R Engine Photo 21/21   |   1,300-Pound Civic Type R-Powered Rocketship!

Powered By Honda

That's good news, too, because this 1,350-pound rocket features a new chassis that's 15 percent stiffer than before and a mid-mounted 320-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four from the Civic Type R. Ariel claims the Atom 4 hits 60 mph in just 2.8 seconds, clears 100 mph in 6.8 seconds, and eventually tops out at 162 mph. We're sure it feels quicker and faster than that, too, due to the Atom 4's lack of doors or a roof.

Too Much Is Never Enough

Looking for even more of a kick? Then opt for the $7,995 Performance package, which adds an extra 30 horses to the Atom 4's stable courtesy of an upgraded ECU, a three-stage boost controller, and a revised exhaust system. The package also includes an upgraded radiator, limited-slip differential, and adjustable traction control system.

Ariel Atom 4 Control Arms Photo 21/21   |   1,300-Pound Civic Type R-Powered Rocketship!

Even Better Handling Than Before

It's not just straight-line speed the Atom 4 improves upon, either. Suspension upgrades, as well as a set of staggered 16-inch front and 17-inch rear wheels (optionally available in carbon fiber for $14,995) and tires help the open-topped Ariel carve through corners more precisely. Additionally, a revised steering rack and a set of four-piston calipers that clamp down on 11.4-inch rotors at all four corners further improve driver confidence.

Ariel Atom 4 Driver Cabin Photo 21/21   |   1,300-Pound Civic Type R-Powered Rocketship!

Extra Junk In the Trunk? No Problem.

While the Atom 4 is no less raw than the Atoms that came before it, the two-seater is far more comfortable. Credit a two-inch longer wheelbase that translates directly to the passenger area. With more space to stretch out and an additional inch of width, the Atom 4 ought to comfortably fit those of more generous proportions.

Like its exterior, the Atom 4's insides are decidedly barren. Still, the car features a color TFT screen that displays various data, including the shifter's current gear position and shift lights. The screen also displays the feed for the car's available $495 backup camera.

Ariel Atom 4 Passenger Side Front View Photo 21/21   |   1,300-Pound Civic Type R-Powered Rocketship!

Less Is Literally More

High-performance vehicles often wear high sticker prices. The Atom 4 is no different, and the base model stickers for $74,750. If you consider the fact the Atom 4 lacks the typical creature comforts of cars costing a fraction of its price, then you might view this sum as rather exorbitant. However, if you take a minute to consider the Atom 4's performance capabilities and frill-free driving experience, then you might just view the open-roofed Ariel as a downright bargain.

The Hard Numbers

Performance:

  • Power - 320 BHP @ 6500rpm
  • Torque - 310 lb/ft @ 3000rpm
  • 0-60 mph - 2.8 seconds / 0-100 mph - 6.80 seconds / Top speed - 162 mph

Ariel Atom 4 Exhaust Photo 21/21   |   1,300-Pound Civic Type R-Powered Rocketship!

Engine

  • Honda - K20C 4Cyl i-VTEC, Direct Injected/Turbocharged
  • Displacement: 1996cc
  • Bore & Stroke: 86mm x 85.9mm
  • Valvetrain: Chain Drive DOHC 4 Valves Per Cylinder
  • Increased Power Output to 350 BHP - Option
  • 3-Stage Variable Boost Controller - Option
  • Adjustable Traction Control - Option

Drivetrain

  • 6 Speed + Reverse w/Aluminum Casing
  • Rear Wheel Drive
  • Limited Slip Differential - Option

Ariel Atom 4 Eibach Spring Photo 21/21   |   1,300-Pound Civic Type R-Powered Rocketship!

Suspension

  • Bilstein Single Adjustable Dampers - Road Valving*
  • 2-Piece Eibach Springs*
  • Double Unequal Length Wishbones
  • Adjustable Track and Push Rods - Camber/Toe/Height
  • Lightweight Machined Aluminium Uprights
  • Aluminium Bellcranks
  • Bilstein MDS Double Adjustable Dampers - Option
  • Ohlins TTX 3-Way Adjustable Dampers - Option
  • Race Needle Roller Bellcranks - Option
  • Race Grade Rod Ends - Option

Braking

  • Front: 290mm Vented Discs w/AP Racing 4-Piston Calipers*
  • Rear: 290mm Vented Discs w/AP Racing 4-Piston Calipers*
  • Tilton aluminum racing pedal box
  • Twin master cylinders adjustable front/rear brake bias
  • Parking brake
  • Cockpit Adjustable Brake Bias - Option
  • Track Compound Brake Pads - Option
  • 2-Piece Rotors - Option

Ariel Atom 4 Overhead View Photo 21/21   |   1,300-Pound Civic Type R-Powered Rocketship!

Chassis

  • Right or left hand drive
  • Bronze welded multi diameter ERW /CDS steel tube
  • Aluminum bulkheads
  • Phosphated, dual powder coated finish - Satin Black
  • Custom Powder Coated Color - Option
  • Removable Full Roll-Over Bar - Option
  • Tow Eye Kit Front/Rear - Option

Dimensions

  • Length: 3520mm
  • Width: 1880mm
  • Track: Front 1600mm - Rear 1615mm
  • Height: 1122mm
  • Wheelbase: 2390mm
  • Weight: 1,312 lbs

Ariel Atom 4 Wheel Photo 21/21   |   1,300-Pound Civic Type R-Powered Rocketship!

Wheels

  • Front: 16x7 Cast alloy - Silver
  • Rear: 17x9 Cast alloy - Silver
  • Carbon Fiber Wheel Package - Option
  • Custom Color Wheels - Option

Tires

  • Front: 195/50-R16 Toyo R888R
  • Rear: 255/40-R17 Toyo R888R

Ariel Atom 4 Windshield Photo 21/21   |   1,300-Pound Civic Type R-Powered Rocketship!
By Greg Fink
7 Articles

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