Originally launched in the 1990s, the Ariel Atom is now an established motoring icon, turning heads both for its looks and the fact it is as exhilarating a car as you could wish to drive.

Two seats sit within the Atom's intricate steel latticework, and in this case the looks don’t deceive: there are no creature comforts to speak of, but performance is stunning and the handling sharp, whichever model you choose. While an optional windscreen makes it possible to drive without a helmet, that’s all the protection you’ll get from the outside world – and in the right conditions it’s better for it.

With success, Somerset-based Ariel has grown as a company, although total production is still only around 100 cars a year, a fact which maintains exclusivity and keeps residual values at an impressively high level.

Today, the range extends from a 245bhp base model of the car through to a 500bhp version, which comes with a supercar price to match. Without exception, each model offers a uniquely thrilling driving experience that is, at its best, unmatched for thrills and rawness this side of a superbike.

Top 5 Extreme track cars

First drives

Videos

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • First Drive
    3 March 2015
    Sharper handling, more refined and better-looking. Still a bit rough around the edges, mind, but now good enough to be a class contender
  • Car review
    27 February 2015
    The second pure Mercedes-AMG model is a triumph of engineering and design, and should have rivals from Porsche and Audi worried
  • First Drive
    27 February 2015
    Dual motors and a power hike give Tesla's electric family car supercar acceleration - and the rest of the package is as strong as ever
  • Car review
    26 February 2015
    Flagship performance C-Class is more than ever a true rival for BMW's M3, and impresses with both its breadth of ability and its practicality
  • First Drive
    26 February 2015
    The new Renault Megane GT 220 is essentially a toned-down version of the hallowed Renaultsport 275, but does it have the required DNA?