Currently reading: Ariel Atom V8 unveiled
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.

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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

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jer 9 September 2010

Re: Ariel Atom V8 unveiled

250bhp from each bored out Suzuki 1.5L bike engines is optimistic. Must be at the crank and I'd think it could be a bit grenade if used in anger.

Peter Cavellini 9 September 2010

Re: Ariel Atom V8 unveiled

It'll beat a Veyron to 100mph, but after that?, well, do i have to type it?, course not!

hamishl 9 September 2010

Re: Ariel Atom V8 unveiled

Leslie Brook wrote:
Whenever I watch those 300BHP World Rally Cars, I can't help thinking how hampered they are by all that extra weight and complexity. If only they were 2 wheel drive, they'd be sooo much faster

That's a different application (i.e. a World Rally Car is unlikely to have full traction available to it's two rear wheels, due to the nature of the surfaces it is driven upon). A formula one car doesn't struggle for traction either (in the dry at least), which leads me to believe that this car's biggest foible may be those skinny rear tyres (compared to an F1 car, again, but then the power to weight would be similar to an early 90s Tyrrell or Footwork, wouldn't it?).

Although, I suppose if they can hit 60 in under 2.5 seconds, they don't really need either.