Released in 2018, the fourth generation of this extraordinary vehicle was completely redesigned, with only the fuel cap, brake, and clutch pedals being carried over from the previous model.
At the base of the Atom 4 stands an all-new bronze welded multi-diameter tubular exoskeleton chassis conceived in-house by the Ariel engineering and design team.
The raw interior gains more space and legroom thanks to the redesigned chassis. The twin-seat unit from previous versions has been replaced with a pair of lightweight individually adjustable single seats, and a full-color TFT screen has been mounted behind the 12-inch (305 mm) race suede-covered steering wheel.
For the suspension, the new car retains the double unequal length wishbones configuration with inboard, pushrod operated dampers borrowed from open-wheel race cars, but the geometry of the entire system has been drastically improved.
The carmaker offers two optional suspension packages that feature motorsport-derived Bilstein MDS double-adjustable dampers or state-of-the-art Ohlins TTX three-way adjustable shocks. The latter are usually found on single-seater, prototype, or GT race cars.
Under the rear cover, we find the heart of the Atom, a Honda K20C turbocharged 2.0-liter (122-cu in) four-cylinder i-VTEC direct-injection engine borrowed from the Civic Type R. It uses a new exhaust system which features a ceramic honeycomb, palladium/rhodium-rich catalytic converter and an 8.4-inch (215 mm) stainless silencer.
Power is delivered to the rear wheels through a six-speed manual transmission that uses a lightweight aluminum-alloy casing.
For an extra $8,000, customers can choose to drastically upgrade their Atom 4 with the Performance Package that boosts engine power to 354 hp, adds a three-stage variable boost controller, high-performance radiator, race-spec ECU tuning, adjustable traction control, de-cat performance exhaust system, and a limited-slip differential.
Conceived by Coventry University student Niki Smart with input and funding from various automotive industry companies such as British Steel and Tom Walkinshaw Racing, the car was first unveiled at the British International Motor Show in October 1996.
Initially powered by a naturally aspirated 1.8-litre Rover K-series engine, it was a resounding success that led to mass production four years later.
Since the second part of 2020, the Atom has been manufactured under license in North America by TMI Autotech, Inc. in Alton, Virginia, and is available for a base price of $75,000.