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Overall verdict

The Top Gear car review:Ariel Atom

Overall verdict
Exceptional thrills and looks, but don't think that it's an everyday car.


One of the purest, most vivid driving experiences on the road


If it rains, you look like a berk. Quite possibly a drowned berk


What is it?

One of the purest – and coldest – driving experiences on the road. The Atom is a racing space-frame with wheels and an engine, and not much else, which means it’s stupidly light, shockingly fast and skin-searingly exposed. The use of a Honda engine means the Atom is reliable, and the build is engineer-spec. No mass production here. Favoured by track-day folks who like to drive to and from, the Atom is surprisingly usable and comfortable on the road, but you have to tog up like a biker or your ears will fall off. 

The latest versions are the revised Atom 3.5 models, using a Honda VTEC in various stats of tune – including a 350hp version in the track-focused 3.5R. It’s the fastest real-world Ariel ever built. Maybe one of the fastest road cars ever built: certainly you’d swear it is from behind the wheel…

Continue: Driving

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