Ariel's new 500bhp Atom is finally here; it's quicker to 100mph than a Bugatti Veyron

Ariel is gunning for Bugatti's Veyron hypercar with its long-awaited 500bhp V8-engined version of its minimalist Atom 3.

The new machine, unveiled this week after a two-year-long development process, has a power-to-weight ratio of 909bhp per tonne - more than 50 per cent better than that of Bugatti's creation, and even slightly ahead of a GP2 single-seater racing car.

The Atom V8 goes on sale early next year, priced at £150,000. Only 25 will be made.

See Autocar's exclusive studio pics of the new Ariel Atom V8Read Autocar's first drive of the Atom V8

Prototypes are still undergoing final testing, but it's already been proven that the V8 Atom can accelerate from 0-60mph in under 2.5sec and from 0-100mph in well under 6.0sec.

Ariel's targets are 2.3sec and 5.4sec respectively, eclipsing the class-leading Veyron. The Atom V8 uses a US-built, 3.0-litre, 32-valve Hartley V8 engine, originally developed from two Suzuki motorcycle engines grafted together, but much developed since.

It will be available in a choice of two power outputs: a relatively docile 475bhp version intended for easy road use and a 500bhp race version with a much more aggressive throttle map, aimed mostly at track use. The 475bhp Atom has a top speed of 170mph, while the race version can reach 200mph.

Read Autocar's first drive of the Ariel Atom 3 300

The V8 is redlined at 10,500rpm in the road-track model and 10,600rpm in the race-road and both use the same six-speed sequential Sadev gearbox. Capable of flat-shifting, the gearbox also has electro-pneumatic paddle-shifters to soften‚ gearchanges and make them tolerable for road use.

Ariel's Tom Siebert, who has done much of the Atom V8 development driving, says the car can cope "perfectly well" on the road, and even through city traffic.

The Atom V8, recognisable for its gold chassis and wheels, a new, all-enveloping carbon engine cover and twin side pods to contain ancillaries like oil radiator and air compressor, uses a near-standard Atom tubular chassis with extra bracing around the engine bay. Every car will have a full set of Ariel's aerodynamic wings in carbonfibre, optional on lesser models.

Read more on the development of the Ariel Atom V8

The V8's double-wishbone suspension is similar in geometry to the existing models but the suspension arms are made in aerofoil-section chrome-molybdenum tubing. The dampers are special, Dutch-made, ultra-adjustable Intrax units with remote reservoirs, and the car also trials a new quick-change system that allows owners to change spring rates.

The brakes are twin-pot Alcons front and rear, with different grooves and other mods to provide more initial bite. The tyres are soft-compound, X-rated Toyos: 205/50 R15s in front and 245/45 R16s behind.

The seats and driving position are standard, but there is a more comprehensive Race Technology instrument pack that is configurable and has a built-in data logger. Atom designer Simon Saunders says he‚s proud of the new V8's class-busting performance.

"I believe it‚s the role of little firms like ours to go where the big companies can't or won't," he told Autocar. "It's almost our duty."

Steve Cropley

See all the latest Ariel Atom reviews, news and video

Our Verdict

Ariel Atom
The Ariel Atom is superbike-fast, and as exhilarating as cars get

In every form the Ariel Atom delivers thrills as exhilarating as any car can deliver. And there’s no greater recommendation than that.

Join the debate


8 September 2010

Well, if you must look like a towering cock, you might as well have a lot of fun doing it! (and of course, compared to a Veyron owner, you'll look like a man of taste and finesse..)

8 September 2010

Comparing this to a Veyron? You're off your trolley. Can we compare this thing to a superbike, then?

8 September 2010

what are x rated toyo tyres? like R888 but more dirty?

8 September 2010

Can't see an extra 25bhp making the difference between 170mph and 200...

Also, will this thing really be drivable in any meaningful sense? I mean the 300bhp one is already bonkers! A 150k price tag for what can't be all that much extra real world performance.

8 September 2010

this one looks like it has downforce. and to make best use of that lots of power helps.

. just looked at the photo of the tyres they are standard R888 not "x-rated".

got those on my city car.

8 September 2010

[quote MHanna]

Can't see an extra 25bhp making the difference between 170mph and 200...

[/quote]Me either. Never driven one but I do know someone that has and he reckons even quarter throttle (in the 'standard' lo-po version) is enough to make your breakfast reappear.

8 September 2010

I think when you take into consideration this is a precision piece of equipment, the fact the engine is nothing short of amazing and the fact this car will accelerate like nothing before it, I feel the cost looks more reasonable......... The world record for 0 - 62mph on a production car looks set to be smashed and I feel the Bugatti SuperSports 0 - 100mph looks either in danger or could be equalled. As for the Top Gear track well I'd say 1 min 14.5 seconds if they can get the power down with a dry track. I do not feel they will have any problem selling the 25 cars. I will look forward to Autocar's test of this car as I am sure they will have a press car so Ariel can show their skills off. An amazingly small but skilled car company that makes amazing little cars.

8 September 2010

I can't help but think about the Caparo T1. I know that car suffered some technical problems, but setting those aside for a moment, it struggled to get that power down cleanly . From where I sit I really wonder if the car has enough weight to put that power to good use. I've never driven one of these lightweight specials, but I cannot help but think I'd be reluctant to drive one on the road in a spirited way the way one might in a 911 turbo or something similar.

8 September 2010

I think I've just had a Gentleman's trouser accident....

8 September 2010

Nice move Ariel, but not exactly what I would have dreamed for.

A car with superior lightness deserves an engine with equally extra ordinary compactness, simplicity and explosive power: turbocharged Renesis wankel rotary engine.

A bloke in the US called Diasio has succesfully developed a racing car called Diasio 962R powered by such powerplant developing 435 hp, mounted amidships just fore of the rear axle and coupled with Hewland sequential transaxle.

I am sure lots of prospective customers would love to see similar power plant package installed on an Atom. Why deal with complexity of a small V8 while you could have two rotors wankel with dramatically reduced moving parts?


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