Limited-edition Atom to cost £80k and feature more power, a paddleshift gearbox and revised suspension

Ariel is poised to launch a new limited-edition version of the Atom two-seater, called the 3.5R.

It's set to feature a suite of extras including a paddleshift gearbox, some suspension improvements and a new engine chargecooler that contributes to a power upgrade of around 10 to 15 per cent.

The car, which features a unique livery, will cost around £80,000 and will sell alongside the existing manual Atom 3.5 – which continues in production and was itself a gentle upgrade of the Atom 3 that launched about a year ago.

“We’ve seen a growing demand for paddleshift cars over the past year or so,” said company boss Simon Saunders. “One of the big successes of the Atom V8 was its paddleshift. People who drove it were impressed with the speed and ease of gearchanging, and felt it particularly suited the Atom’s character. We’re reacting to that.

"For the 3.5R we’re using a Sadev six-speed gearbox, not exactly the one we used for the Atom V8 but similar, with the same Geartronic control mechanism. We’ve just finished our track testing, and all indications are it’s very quick indeed. At a recent Donington test day we were passing everything down the straights and through corners, including slick-shod touring cars.”

Ariel's Atom 3.5R continues to use a Honda Civic Type R engine, but its supercharger gets slightly more boost, made possible by its new chargecooler. The upshot is a power output of around 350bhp, up from 310bhp.

The biggest change to the 3.5R suspension is a standard set of Öhlins TTX dampers, which have in-line internal reservoirs rather than the familiar remote reservoirs. Saunders claims they provide top class body control and improved ride quality. Overall gearing, and wheel and tyre sizes are unchanged, but the 3.5R runs special Kumho high-performance tyres.

Ariel is putting finishing touches to the 3.5R’s livery, but is taking orders for the new car now and expecting to deliver the first examples by the middle of the summer.

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Our Verdict

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

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