Ariel Reveals Atom 4R at the 2023 Goodwood Festival of Speed

Anyone who enjoyed watching Top Gear before Jeremy Clarkson punched a producer will remember his epic review of the Ariel Atom. At the time, it started "at under £20,000" and delivered 300 bhp, thanks to its supercharged Honda Civic Type-R engine. Sixteen years later, Ariel revealed a new version of the Atom at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. The Atom 4R counts on 400 bhp and starts at £64,950. Damn inflation!
Ariel Atom 4R 18 photos
Photo: Ariel Motor
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Henry Siebert-Saunders places the 4R as an evolution of the 3.5R. The Ariel director said that his team is pretty proud of all the changes their "ultimate driver's car" achieved in this new iteration. The new list of features makes anyone who is fond of driving want to confirm if he is right about Ariel's latest creation.

The Atom 3.5R weighed only 550 kilograms (1,212.5 pounds) and was so impressive that the Avon and Somerset Police – close to Crewkerne, where Ariel's factory is located – used one in a motorcycle safety initiative: it was the only vehicle able to keep up with superbikes. The machine could accelerate from 0 to 100 kph (62 mph) in 2.6 seconds and reach a top speed close to 250 kph (155 mph). It also used a 2-liter Honda engine.

In the 4R, Ariel increased power and torque by around 25% just with a new cooling system and a new air intake. According to Ariel, it managed to improve engine cooling by 55%, with a right-hand side pod alone increasing the intercooling area by 75%. When you consider that the regular Atom 4 delivers 320 bhp at 6,500 rpm and 420 Nm (309.9 pound-feet) at 3,000 rpm, the 4R gets really interesting. By the way, the torque of this special derivative is 500 Nm (368.78 lb-ft). Ariel did not inform us at which engine speed the maximum power and torque happen, but that's probably at the same rotations as the Atom 4 or pretty close to them.

Ariel Atom 4R
Photo: Ariel Motor
The sequential 6-speed gearbox used in the driving machine comes from Quaife, a company focused on motorsports equipment. Its pneumatic paddle shift electronic system enables the driver to make five downshifts in less than a second, while upshifts can be made at full throttle and with no clutch use.

With new generations, the Atom got a bit heavier, reaching 595 kilograms (1,311.75 pounds) in its latest iteration. The 4R managed to save 26 kg (57.32 lb) just with lightweight carbon brakes and wheels. They use carbon-ceramic discs with machined aluminum bells and AP Racing 4-piston calipers. The British company did not disclose the total mass of the Atom 4R, but it certainly does not exceed 569 kg (1,254.43 lb), which is pretty close to what the Atom 3.5R weighed.

Curiously, the more powerful 4R could not repeat the same acceleration numbers as its predecessor. The 4R goes from 0 to 100 kph in less than 2.7 seconds. Although that could include any number from 0 to 2.6, this was probably how the company chose to frame this performance figure in a way that did not disappoint those expecting it to match the 3.5R times. Prospective owners will likely focus on the top speed: 170 mph (273.59 kph). The Atom 4R also reaches 100 mph (161 kph) in 6.5 seconds.

Ariel Atom 4R
Photo: Ariel Motor
Since we talked about brakes, Ariel seems happy to announce that the Atom 4R is the first to offer a switchable ABS. It presents 12 positions that allow the driver to select the sensitivity in "wet, dry, or changeable conditions." The Atom owner may also decide that they want no assistance whatsoever, switching ABS off. Traction and launch control are also adjustable.

Being so focused on track performance, the Atom 4R comes with 6-point race harnesses for the driver and their only passenger. A full track-timing system can be incorporated into the dash system. Despite that, the machine also offers a reverse camera to help the driver park when they are not concerned about going ahead as quickly as possible.

The aero package you can see in the images is optional, so it will make the starting price higher for those who think it can be useful. Ariel ensures that is the case: it has been developed with TotalSim to provide high downforce without hurting intake efficiency. The company said they offer only a small drag penalty, which is probably to blame for the slower acceleration times of the Atom 4R compared to the 3.5R. The mudguard's raised section prevents lift and contributes to more downforce on the tires.

The suspension also gives future owners some choices. It uses the standard pushrod system Ariel developed but comes with Ohlins TTX36 dampers. It can also come with optimized Ohlins springs if the buyer is comfortable with spending a bit more on the car. Ariel promises no two vehicles will be the same, with them being built to individual specifications by a single technician. If you think it through, it is probably an affordable machine for everything it offers.
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About the author: Gustavo Henrique Ruffo
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Motoring writer since 1998, Gustavo wants to write relevant stories about cars and their shift to a sustainable future.
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