Ariel Atom overall verdict

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Ariel Atom overall verdict

Driven November 3rd, 2011

Rated 1 out of 10

One of the purest driving experiences you can get. And your exposure to the elements just completes the thrill. OK, so your eyes may fall out, but this is worth it.
Comfort
‘Comfort’ is pretty relative in something so blatantly as extreme as the Atom, but in terms of ultra-hardcore track-biased weaponry, the Atom is surprisingly useable. They don’t break down (simple set-up, Honda engine, no bodywork) and even though the seats are just plastic mouldings, you can go a long way before our bum gives up. One reason to eat all the pies – the fatter you are, the more padding you have.

Performance
Startling. Insane. Terrifying. All are powered by Honda 2.0-litre units. There used to be a lovely 180bhp K-series car, but that’s now gone, superseded by a pair of VTEC screamers in 245bhp and 300bhp guises, the latter being supercharged. The 245 will hit 62mph in just over three seconds, the 300 in just 2.7, with both topping out well over 140mph – but you won’t want to play that game unless you’re fully kitted up. There’s not much like it out there – though the 300 is pretty much only a tool for the experienced track-attacker.

Cool
Either achingly cool or blatantly try-hard. You have to respect the commitment, but if you’re just popping to the shops, the Atom looks a bit attention-seeking. On track it’s best to know what you’re doing or you look like ‘all the gear, no idea’ brigade.

Quality
Top stuff from Ariel here. There isn’t much in the way of equipment, but the general finish is so well sorted that Ariels are a joy to play in. And that Honda motor just loves abuse. There’s not much better you can do if you want track thrills.

Handling
The Atom is a pretty friendly car – albeit one that can bite pretty hard if you get injudicious with the throttle or a bit cautious with a big mid-corner lift. The good thing about the Atom is that the spread of ability can please both a beginner and someone with more experience – you can scare yourself witless no matter who you are. There are faster cars – few are as much fun.

Practicality
Are you blind? And do you have pockets in your jacket? Because that’s all the storage space you get in an Atom.

Running costs
Hard to quantify. Insurance is relatively high, especially if you get yourself to track days, but the car is light, easy to maintain and good on fuel if you aren’t hammering it.


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