You need to keep both hands on the small, perfectly placed, Alcantara suede steering wheel of the Atom 4 to guide it confidently, even at everyday speeds. The rim is quite heavy – but it feeds back information from the front contact patches in a wonderfully lucid and meaningful way that’s the perfect introduction to the deliciously involving, analogue driving experience you’re diving into, fingertips first.
The car’s steering ratio doesn’t feel particularly direct, rather very intuitively paced, and is well-suited to a small, light, naturally agile car. It also communicates load brilliantly as you add lock, giving you supreme confidence as the front sidewalls begin to flex; and letting you know, as that load ebbs and flows, whether the grip level underneath you is rising or falling. Come good weather and bad, then, you’ll always know where you are with this car.
Ariel has evidently calmed the propensity of the Atom’s steering to kick back over bumps and to tramline slightly, and so only at low speeds and over particularly sharp edges do you feel the need to tighten your grip on the wheel. And yet, whatever speed you’re travelling at, the sense of intimacy with the Atom’s lightly loaded front wheels remains truly striking. On track, as the tyre temperature builds, it’s almost as if you can feel the carcasses warming in the palms of your hands.