Today I’m reviewing a car with no roof, a lack of carpet, the absence of a windscreen and a severe case of “whoops I forgot to put my body panels on.” The seats are made from plastic and the last time anybody saw a dashboard this basic was back when man still hunted mammoth. So as you can guess its not a Rolls-Royce, Bentley, or even a Ford Focus but as the old saying goes “less is more.”
Enter the Ariel Atom 300, the purest driving experience money can buy. This particular car has a 300BHP supercharged engine from a Honda Civic Type-R in tandem with an aerodynamic package. In this specification I would perhaps say the ideal driver would be Batman or if his imperial star-destroyer broke down, Darth Vader. Now 300BHP doesn’t sound very much at all by todays standards but factor in that the Atom weighs less than half a ton and all of a sudden that British built pile of scaffolding puts Porsche, Ferrari and Lamborghini to shame in the blink of an eye. It’s power to weight ratio is greater than that of a Bugatti Veyron (481BHP/ton) accumulating to 600BHP/ton! By forgetting what creature comforts are this Atom 300 will do 0-60MPH in 2.7 seconds and go onto a top speed of 155MPH. On paper this may well be the David amongst Goliath’s but how does something lighter than a garden shed behave out in the wild?
Well the lack of refinement is the first thing that will hit you as you trundle off down the road. It is a strange sensation being able to lookthrough the entire body of the car and see the road skip past underneath. Before the Ariel Atom I never really understood windchill factors that the weathermen keep going on about but I have now created a simple equation to help us all out. Moving at over 9MPH+no windscreen= BLOODY COLD. But thankfully the Atom has a box of toys to take your mind off the nonexistent heated seats.
As that supercharger winds up with its ever increasing scream only silenced at the dawn of a new gear, you work it out, you know exactly what this car is about. Its purpose was never to cart you from a to b neither was it to simply make cars costing four times the price think twice. You can feel it, you are so connected to the car being able to literally feel the road under you and see every components reaction to your input. This is not so much a performance machine but one of the best forms of ergonomics I have ever come across. But enough of this philosophical rubbish because thats not what you really want to read about, you want to know what happens when the heavy foot gets involved.
Opening the taps unleashes the most biblical acceleration I have ever experience. The supercharger screams as the air intake above your shoulder attempts to devour your brain via sucking it out your ear. Yes the gear leaver may appear to be something you would find on a 4 year olds toy but in this car it is your best friend. Each new cog generating more grunt and absolutely unrelenting speed. Around the corners this car with its added downforce changes direction faster than a kite being flown in a hurricane. Various organs rearrange themselves as this nimble mosquito just makes you breathless. The adrenalin surge that this machine can create is more than enough to make you forget all abut the cold and make you feel like Lewis Hamilton. The breaks are something else to compliment because after you have finished with the Atom rearranging your face, one good dose of the anchors should relocate your facial features and the pulp that once was your large intestine.
For just over £35,000 is there any other performance car that can claim what this Ariel Atom does? The answer you are looking for is NO. Yes it is less practical than the supercars it has vanquished, and being less practical is quite a task, but this is engineering pure and simple. Add a bag of lightness and the whole world goes by in a supercharged blur. Wow now that is an incentive for the obese to loose weight, maybe they should start putting that slogan on the side of salads.