Ariel Atom 4R Launched!

Evolution is a funny old thing because sometimes it can feel a little like a revolution. The Atom has evolved over the years, gaining power and ever more sophisticated components in a seemingly obsessive quest to build the ultimate driving machine.

Quaife ‘box

When the first Ariel Atom R was introduced to a slightly unbelieving world, the the headline figures quoted by Ariel seemed to be almost other worldly. 350BHP and 330Nm of torque, 0-60 times ‘approaching 2.5 seconds and 0-100mph in seconds.’ The use of the Sadev 6 Speed sequential race gearbox with pneumatic paddle shifts was said to allow upshifts in less than 40 miliseconds, downshifts in less than 50, 5 of which could be strung together in less than a second. And this was nearly 10 years ago, in 2014.

Ariel Atom 4R rear wing

So what has the turbo charged 4R bought to the party and how much dust does it leave the 3.5R to eat?

Let’s start with the ‘box. As with later 3.5Rs, Quaife are the manufacturer of choice, offering longer service intervals than the very race orientated Sadev units. Like the Sadevs of old, the Quaife is capable of 5 downshifts in under a second. The new unit includes a throttle autoblip on downshift for additional control. And just like the 3.5R, the sequential box is a cost option.

The base price for a new Atom 4R with 400BHP out of the box is quoted as £64,950 ( plus VAT). That gets you a pretty special car, complete with a sports cat and decat pipe, AP Racing brakes with 4 pot calipers and track biased pads, Bilstein MDS 2 way adjustable dampers, the seriously sexy new side pods that contain the new cooling package, a manual 6 speed ‘box, a black alloy wheel and tyre package using Avon ZZS rubber, standard Atom 4 wing mirrors (big), areo screens, black powder coat on the chassis and the 4R sticker set. It remains to be seen if anyone actually buys one in such a spec – our guess is probably not.

Ariel Atom 4R

Let’s look at two areas where the 4R is very different from the 3.5R (ignoring for a second the well documented change from a supercharged Honda unit to a turbo charged one). First up is the optional aero. This time round, the carbon fibre front and rear wings have been painstakingly refined, using a specially developed CFD model and are now said to provide balanced and real down force with a minimal drag penalty. No figures are quoted currently. Aero on the 3.5R did not benefit from CFD aided design, but it does make the car look very intentional, in a formula car kind of way, which is worth 700ths of second any day of the week.

The other area of serious evolution (yes we’re skipping over the revised suspension platform of the 4) that is interesting and, just a little bit controversial, is the addition of driver aids. A swift scan of the options list for the 4R reveals that ‘Driver Assistance’ is available, from the 3 stage turbo boost controller and traction/launch control available on the ‘standard’ 4, to the new for the 4R, ABS. This offers 12 switchable stages, allowing the driver to adapt the profile for differing types of surface and grip and may well be a game changer in terms of ditch/hedge/armco avoidance. It does come at a price however, reported to be just under twelve thousand pounds (including his majesty’s duty), but it may well be a price many find well worth paying.

Ariel Atom 4R cockpit

With 400BHP, 368lb ft of torque, the seriously improved (over the 3.5) mechanical grip and ride quality and the upgraded cooling, the 4R looks to be revolutionary. The big question is ‘what’s it like to drive?’ Which is one we are keen to answer as we look to bring a 3.5R, a 4 350 and a 4R together for a back-to-back comparison. In the meantime, we’ve been busy with the spec sheet – let’s just say that our ideally specced machine is approximately twice the basic list price. Which given the promised performance still makes this seem like a bit of a Somerset bargain!

Posted by Steve Wind-Mozley

Steve has ruined many cars over the years, modding them trying to get them to go around circuits quicker. Luckily Ariel did a pretty good job with the Atom, so now he mostly makes excuses about why he is not faster. He's a tech marketing bod so he loves a good game of buzzword bingo.