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Ariel Atom 4R v Caterham Seven evo25 edition – car pictures of the week

In evo’s Track Car of the Year issue, we put Ariel’s Atom 4R up against the Caterham Seven evo25 edition – these are our favourite shots

Few cars epitomise the thrill of driving quite like these two. The Ariel Atom 4R and Caterham Seven evo25 edition are as intense, uncompromising and rewarding as road cars come, and in evo’s Track Car of the Year test, we put them head-to-head against 13 other incredible performance cars.

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Straddling the line between the conventional road cars and pure-bred racers in our test, the 4R and evo25 edition represent two proven track day heroes in their best light. The Caterham is evo’s own long-term test car, and the ideal road/track spec for a Seven. It’s based on the 420R with a narrow chassis, a dry-sump 210bhp Duratec engine and adjustable Bilstein dampers from the 420 Cup – weighing in at just 612kg including 33 litres of fuel, it’s the lightest car at TCoty. 

The Atom is heavier and more complex – in relative terms, at least. It’s still a featherweight at 725kg (with fuel), but it gets a 400bhp turbocharged Honda engine and a Quaife pneumatic paddleshift ‘box, with multi-stage traction control and ABS. Suspension is by pushrod-operated Öhlins coilovers, and our test car came fitted with ultra-light carbonfibre wheels. 

How does all that feel? ‘The Atom has always been unlike anything else to drive,’ said Richard Meaden. ‘The web-like structure and exposed front wheels somehow create an illusion that you’re as close to the front axle as you are to the rear in the Caterham. The 4R’s turbo engine huffs and flutters, but there’s steel behind the respiratory chorus, as you’d expect from a car with more than 600bhp-per-ton.’

The Caterham isn’t as ferociously accelerative as the Atom, but it’s still completely absorbing in its own way. Through Cadwell Park’s fearsome Coppice corner it carries an apex speed of 103mph, just 1.7mph shy of the aero-honed Atom. Can either take the 2024 Track Car of the Year crown? Pick up an issue of the magazine in-store or via the evo shop to find out. 

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