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#99129 - 16th Jun 2005 12:05am Ariel Atom
Scooby Offline
Forum Veteran

Registered: 9th Nov 2003
Posts: 5327
Loc: Birkenhead, Wirral.
Ariel Atom


Model: Areil Atom 2 (220bhp)
Engine type: Four-cylinder, 1998ccV12, 5935cc
Power: 220bhp @ 8200rpm
Torque: 145lb ft @ 6100rpm
Transmission: Six-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Acceleration: 0-60mph: 3.5sec (estimated)
Top speed: 135mph
Tyres: (front) 195/50 R15, (rear) 225/45 R16
Fuel: 27mpg (estimated)
Weight: under 500kg
Price: £24,000
Verdict: A blast of fresh air - motoring at its frenzied best
Rating: xxxxx

None of the buttons could possibly go wrong in this car because ó apart from the one used to start it ó it doesnít have any. Mind you, it has no bodywork either. Those tubes you see are its chassis, so what we have here is the worldís first exoskeletal car. A sort of beetle-cum-Pompidou Centre. What we have here is also a lesson in how cars work, because as you drive along you can actually see the mechanical parts moving around.

From the driverís seat you can see the steering system, the brakes, the inside of the wheels and the double-wishbone suspension absorbing the bumps. What you cannot see are the wasps and the bees, until you smash into them at 90mph. Also, because there is no mirror, you canít see yourself, which means you have no idea what the hurricane is doing to your face. As you can see from the pictures, itís doing quite a lot. After only a few minutes my normally florid complexion had begun to resemble Florida. And you know what? I didnít care because this car ó if you can call it that ó is motoring nirvana.

Because there is no bodywork (actually, because there is no anything) it weighs less than 500kg, which in automotive terms is an ounce. It makes a Lotus Elise look like Terry Wogan. You could fit such a thing with the engine from a motorised pepper grinder and it would go like Apollo 8, but in fact it uses the VTEC motor from a Honda Civic. And not the weedy 190bhp unit from the Type R either, but a full Japanese-spec version with 220bhp. So that means youí re getting 440bhp per tonne, and thatís about 100 more than you get from a Lamborghini Murciťlago.

Obviously it has lousy aerodynamics, so the top speed is around 135mph, but the time it takes to achieve this is simply mind-boggling: 0-60mph, for instance, is dealt with in just 3.5sec.

If that sounds scary, theyíre working on a supercharged version that wonít ripple your face so much as tear it off.

Weíre talking motorbike performance here, and real motorbike thrills. But because the Atom has four wheels it wonít fall over when you leave it alone, you donít have to wear a helmet, and rubber fetish clothes are not de rigueur.

Of course, when I first drove the Atom it was a lovely sunny day. The thermometer was nudging 80F and I was on a track, kissing the apexes perfectly because I could actually see the point where the wheel touches the road, and holding power slides until I was bored with them. Honestly, I felt like a toddler whoís just seen his first zoo animal.

But the acid test would come on the road, so I tweaked the suspension to make it a bit softer ó you only need a spanner ó and ventured into the real world.

Because the Atom looks like a racing car, it seems at home on the track, but in a village it causes people to drop their shopping. And out in the countryside it is every bit as much fun as the photographs suggest. It is Absolut motoring at its frenzied best.

Maybe the frontís a little bit floaty and maybe the brakes could be a touch more powerful. And maybe I should have put on a full-face helmet because running into a cloud of dust kicked up by a passing juggernaut at 60mph really hurts. But with the engine air intake trying to suck my left ear off, and the wind wreaking Jamaica-style havoc with my hair, I kept bursting into spontaneous laughter. You would too.

Of course you wouldnít want to have a crash because this car has never had any impact tests carried out. Thanks to Britainís unique Single Vehicle Approval system, small car firms can bypass all the European Union regulations, and thatís why we have so many such firms in this country.
Ariel is one of the smallest. Started up in Somerset four years ago by a former teacher, it has only seven employees who make just 30 cars a year.

Donít worry, though, about buying a car from something that isnít even big enough to be labelled a cottage industry. The engine and gearbox come straight from Honda and are bolted in place, so itís extremely unlikely theyíll go wrong. And you canít worry about the trim falling off or squeaking, because there isnít any.

It really is just a chassis, an engine, four wheels and a surprisingly comfortable plastic seat. Oh, and a front-mounted boot that is easily big enough for a small bread roll. The only really complex part, it seems, is the adjustable suspension. But as itís supplied by Bilstein, you donít have to worry about that, either.

I think the best thing about this car, though, is the way it looks. Itís as cool as a Philippe Starck juicer, as tempting as any of the brushed aluminium toys you find in an airport gadget shop. But unlike rechargeable underwater currency converters, I doubt youíd ever be bored with what it can do.

In terms of sheer thrills, the Atom is easily a match for the Porsche Carrera GT, and that makes its £19,999 starting price (for the 160bhp version) look almost ludicrously low. Thatís yet another reason why I have no hesitation in giving the Atom five stars.

Which brings me back to the DB9, one of the few others to have been awarded this accolade. With its computerised traction control switch repaired using Blu-Tack and gaffer tape, I turned off the electronic nanny and set off once again.

Compared with the Atom, it felt huge and stodgy, but against other leather-lined luxury expresses it was magical. I honestly do not know what Evo is on about, because with the back-end freed up it was transformed into a growling, balanced, grand-touring wonder car.

I still think itís perfect, but after my introduction to one-cal motoring, I do wish it was just a little bit simpler.

by Jeremy Clarkson of The Sunday Times
In a word, gobsmacking!
Now thats a Car thumbsup

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#99130 - 16th Jun 2005 12:06am Re: Ariel Atom
dikky5 Offline
Wise One

Registered: 11th Jul 2004
Posts: 869
Loc: Pensby
i want 1. but damn. that aint a car. its a cars skeleton
ve vill not stop untill ve go sidewayz!!!!

Check out My Members Car Profile : Click me watch this space for a bavarian beast!!!!

#99131 - 16th Jun 2005 1:18pm Re: Ariel Atom

Looks mad, the figures speak for themselve though, would be good fun smile

What about them car/motorbike things that have 2 front wheels and one back wheel? i got no idea what they're called.

#99132 - 16th Jun 2005 2:12pm Re: Ariel Atom
maverick Offline

Registered: 11th Nov 2003
Posts: 751
Loc: wallasey
Bet that would be fun to drive, you would be picking the flies out of your teeth, thats if you did not wear a helmet.

#99133 - 16th Jun 2005 2:44pm Re: Ariel Atom

Like this mav?

At least you'd be safe if you span off into pond raftl

#99134 - 17th Jun 2005 1:33am Re: Ariel Atom
jimbo4x4 Offline
Forum Master

Registered: 3rd Mar 2004
Posts: 2912
Loc: Bebington
They're cool, will have one or something similar when I win the lottery smile

#99135 - 17th Jun 2005 7:46pm Re: Ariel Atom
scoop Offline
Wiki Addict

Registered: 18th Nov 2004
Posts: 7238
Loc: Leuchars
They also do with with a V8!! Albeit just a 2.6 or 1.8 or something, as its 2 hayabusa bike engines nailed together. Its mint, slightly quicker but not that youd really need the extra as i think the type R engine is good enough

#99136 - 17th Jun 2005 8:46pm Re: Ariel Atom
Dazza Offline
Forum Master

Registered: 10th Nov 2003
Posts: 2899
Loc: Birkenhead
Like my favourite quote goes
'0 - 60 quicker than you can **** the bed'
My website: www.TeamFord.co.uk

#99137 - 17th Jun 2005 9:00pm Re: Ariel Atom
scoop Offline
Wiki Addict

Registered: 18th Nov 2004
Posts: 7238
Loc: Leuchars
2.6 or 2.8 v8 sorry. The 'busa is a 1.4 V4 isnt it? Anyway this ariel is mint. Get one jay


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