At its peak in the back of the Atom 3.5R, Ariel’s old K20Z four-cylinder supercharged Honda engine produced 243lb ft of torque just above 6000rpm; the new K20 turbo makes 310lb ft at half that crank speed – in a car weighing so little as to make such a gain in accessible torque feel very significant indeed.
The upshot is that the world’s fastest piece of mobile scaffolding no longer needs to be driven with much gusto to feel like a performance heavyweight. Leave it in fourth gear and the Atom 4 will go from 30-70mph in just 4.2sec; as quickly, but for a solitary 10th of a second, as a 715bhp Aston Martin DBS Superleggera will. Taking on long dual-carriageway-born distances, the Atom can overtake with real urgency from both low revs and high.
And, predictably enough, it gets off the line rather smartly as well. The Atom now comes with optional-fit electronic launch control, although its use is equally optional; if you prefer, just dial the traction control down to zero, select second gear, wind engine revs up to the static limiter automatically imposed at 5000rpm, and then choose how much wheelspin you want by the vigorousness of your clutch action. Even when bypassing first gear altogether, you can still get wheelspin as the turbos really spool; but get the juggling act perfected and this £40k car will hit 60mph from rest as quickly as a £200k exotic.