What is it?
The Ariel Atom 3 Mugen is a variant of Ariel's Atom to slot between the base 245bhp version and the 300bhp Supercharged. Tuned to 270bhp by Mugen (Honda's family-founded but independent tuning arm), it's also more track-focused than the other pair, which are ostensibly road-biased cars.
The Mugen wears the springs and dampers of the V8, has four-pot brake calipers, ventilated discs and a limited-slip differential while there's the V8's digital dash on the inside (I say 'inside', but you know what I mean). Production is limited to 10 units and they all get the natty red/white colour scheme (a flip of the colours available).
What's it like?
Mugen has performed the initial tuning on the 2.0-litre Type R engine, with Ariel's final tweaking making its delivery suit the lightweight flyer. It revs to about 8600rpm, where it also makes peak power, and that's good enough, so it's claimed, for a 0-60mph sprint in around 3.0sec. I can believe it.
Getting this sort of power from a naturally aspirated lump hasn't come without some compromises though. While a 'normal' Atom is easygoing at any speeds, there are two at which the Mugen is happy: pottering around at low revs, where the engine's docile enough but you'll not like the ride. Or there's the zone beyond a 4000-5000 flat spot where, you'll be unsurprised to learn, it's much better. Much, much, better.