Speaking to Ariel boss Simon Saunders yesterday about the Atom V8 engine got me thinking.

Because it is a small engine for an eight cylinder, made using parts of motorbike engines, in the back of my mind I thought it would be useless for application in anything that is not a featherweight track day car.

But Simon told me it would produce around 300 lb ft of torque, which isn’t huge for a V8 but perfectly acceptable for a normal performance road car. The new VW Scirocco R has 258 lb ft for example.

This got me daydreaming about a mainstream application for a normal car. A saloon or even a hatch with a 500 bhp 3.0-litre 32-valve V8 is a crazy idea but it is certainly a mesmerizing prospect.

Would it work? I don’t see why not, and the fact the engine is light at 90kgs would certainly help. And perhaps it’s not as unlikely as it sounds.

Who would have thought a few years ago the hot hatch to beat in 2009 would be a 300 bhp front-wheel drive Ford Focus?