Five judges, each with 50 points to distribute per car, and we still end up with a two-way tie. But on countback and by dint of two versus one first places awarded, the Atom becomes one of those rare cars that successfully defends its winner’s position at Britain’s Best Driver’s Car.
Frankel said: “It would be hard to overstate my admiration for this car. The way the Atom 4 dealt with the conditions was one of the most impressive things I have ever witnessed in three decades of Handling Days.”
It was a recurrent theme. We all thought that an Atom would mate less well with late October than vehicles with a roof, or at least a heater, or perhaps bodywork, but none of it. “Another lightweight might have been the spikiest thing in the pit lane,” said Saunders.
But with its dampers slackened a little – which doesn’t even require a spanner – the Atom was a treat to drive in any weather, gliding bumps, communicating brilliantly and finding unexpected reserves of composure and ability. A truly immersive experience at any speed but, on circuit, capable of a surprising turn of speed with tremendous docility.
Disdale summed it up nicely: “I loved the fact that it was an almost totally analogue experience. You get out exactly what you put in. On the road, it’s a thrill at any speed.”
And ultimately, for me, that’s what separates the Atom from the rest. Matt Prior
Britain's best affordable driver's car: Toyota GR Yaris
Only one car really surprised anyone at Handling Day this year, either on the windy moors of south-west England or in the dripping-wet confines of Castle Combe. Others certainly delighted, excited, flattered and frazzled. But only the brilliant GR Yaris suddenly hit the big time.