autoevolution

Body style: Convertible (spider/spyder, cabrio/cabriolet, drop/open/soft top)
Segment: Exotic
Production years: 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002

The extremely light Ariel Atom was the roadster that shook the supercar world with its amazing acceleration times and high cornering speeds.

Ariel took the light-weight concept to a different level. The British car manufacturer built a space-frame construction and added only what was mandatory on it, and everything started with a student project made for the Coventry University, in 1996, by Niki Smart, who later on became an exterior design manager for General Motors Advanced Design Team.

Smart built the concept with an exoskeleton design. The construction was inspired by the air industry. The designer added a nose-cone to improve the aerodynamic and protect the driver from winds. There was no windshield (although it was later on added as an option). Its headlights were barely visible between the wheels and the car's nose. In the back, the car manufacturer installed the taillights directly on the chassis. Everything was exposed to the wind: the engine, gearbox, suspension, and, of course, the driver. There were no doors nor a roof.

The driver sat on a very slim seat built as thick and heavy as the rules required, but they featured high-bolstered areas so the driver wouldn't slide out during high-speed cornering—the car supporter lateral accelerations of over 1 g. The instrument cluster featured two dials for the speedometer and tachometer and an LCD at the bottom.

In the beginning, the car was powered by a 1.8-liter Rover engine. Later on, the carmaker added more engines version, with the Honda Civic Type R K20 unit being the best known, especially with a supercharger on it which gave the Atom a 600 hp/tone ratio and a 0 to 60 mph (0-97 kph) time of just 2.9 seconds.

ARIEL Atom 1 1999-2002
ARIEL Atom 1 (1999-2002)
ARIEL Atom 1 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002
  1 gasoline engine
  • 1.6 DOHC 6MT (113 HP)
compare with...
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ARIEL Atom 1 1.6 DOHC 6MT (113 HP)

ENGINE SPECS  –  1.6 DOHC 6MT (113 HP)
Cylinders
L4
Displacement
1588 cm3
Power
83 KW @ 5000 RPM
113 HP @ 5000 RPM
111 BHP @ 5000 RPM
Torque
107 lb-ft @ 3000 RPM
145 Nm @ 3000 RPM
Fuel System
Multipoint Injection
Fuel
Gasoline
PERFORMANCE SPECS
Top Speed
130 mph (209 km/h)
TRANSMISSION SPECS
Drive Type
Rear Wheel Drive
Gearbox
5-speed manual
BRAKES SPECS
Front
Ventilated Discs
Rear
Discs
TIRES SPECS
Tire Size
185/60 R 14
DIMENSIONS
Length
134.3 in (3411 mm)
Width
70.8 in (1798 mm)
Height
47 in (1194 mm)
Front/rear Track
63/63 in (1,600/1,600 mm)
Wheelbase
92.3 in (2344 mm)
Ground Clearance
3.5 in (89 mm)
Aerodynamics (Cd)
0.4
WEIGHT SPECS
Unladen Weight
1005 lbs (456 kg)
Gross Weight Limit
1490 lbs (676 kg)
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