New Ariel Atom 4R revealed: extreme 400bhp Atom priced from £64,950

Following in the wheel tracks of the 3.5R, the Atom 4R gains an uprated Honda engine and aero modifications for ultimate track performance

We’ve never found the scintillating 320bhp Atom 4 wanting for speed, but Ariel has turned up the wick to produce the most powerful iteration since the V8-powered Atom 500. Called the Atom 4R, the track-oriented model builds on the 4’s tubular steel chassis and Honda engine with bespoke suspension hardware, a higher power output and an extensive aero package for improved track performance. 

Priced from £64,950 plus taxes, the 4R gains a new intake system and a tuned 2-litre turbocharged engine derived from the Honda Civic Type R to generate 400bhp and 368lb ft of torque – both of which are uplifts of around 25 per cent. The power increase has been made possible thanks to a redesigned cooling system and a larger air-to-air intercooler, which are housed within the 4R’s sidepods. As with the standard Atom 4, the 4R offers three switchable boost maps with varying levels of power.

To make the most of the extra grunt, Ariel has installed a six-speed Quaife pneumatic paddle shift gearbox for full throttle, clutchless upshifts. It also features an auto-blip function on the way down the gears with stunning shift speeds; the driver can pull five downshifts in less than one second. 

An optional aero package, developed using CFD (computational fluid dynamics), adds downforce across both axles while maintaining an even aero balance at high speed on track. The additions do carry a slight drag (and presumably weight) penalty, but the Atom’s manic performance remains intact: the 0-62mph sprint is completed in just 2.7 seconds, with a top speed of 170mph. With so much power and torque sent to the rear tyres, the Atom’s acceleration from rest is largely limited by traction, and the full effect of the upgraded Honda engine is likely to be felt at higher speeds.

A selection of carbonfibre parts – including the bonnet, airbox, light covers and mudguards – trim weight, while carbon ceramic AP Racing four-pot brakes and carbon wheels save a combined 26kg of unsprung mass. The 4R’s aero-optimised wishbones and aluminium uprights are also lighter than the standard items, and buyers can choose between road or track orientated spring rates for the Ohlins suspension. Bespoke Ohlins TTX36 dampers are fitted at each corner, with optimised valving for the 4R.

Despite its spartan, lightweight ethos, the Atom 4R is available with a suite of electronics that includes launch control, adjustable traction control and a 12-position ABS system, as well as a track timing sensor with onboard cameras. There’s a rear parking camera too, which feeds to the digital dashboard while reversing.

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