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Ariel Atom 4: No Doors, No Roof, and the Heart of a Civic Type R

U.S. production of the wild Atom 4 finally begins.

Greg FinkAuthor

Despite its familiar looks, the Ariel Atom 4 shares only three parts with its predecessor: the clutch pedal, brake pedal, and fuel cap. In other words, this is an all-new iteration of the company's famously analog sports car. 

Although Ariel initially announced the model more than two years ago at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, the British brand is finally kicking off production of the two-seat Atom 4 in the United States. Fortunately, it seems the American-made model mirrors its overseas counterpart.

Civic Duty

That's good news, too, because this 1,350-pound rocket features a new chassis that's 15 percent stiffer than before and a mid-mounted 320-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four from the Civic Type R hatchback. Ariel claims the Atom 4 hits 60 mph in 2.8 seconds, clears 100 mph in 6.8 seconds, and eventually tops out at 162 mph. We're sure it feels quicker and faster than that, too, due to the Atom 4's lack of doors or a roof.

Looking for even more of a kick? Then opt for the $7,995 Performance package, which adds an extra 30 horses to the Atom 4's stable courtesy of an upgraded ECU, a three-stage boost controller, and a revised exhaust system. The package also includes an upgraded radiator, limited-slip differential, and adjustable traction control system.

It's not just straight-line speed the Atom 4 improves upon, either. Suspension upgrades, as well as a set of staggered 16-inch front and 17-inch rear wheels (optionally available in carbon fiber for $14,995) and tires help the open-topped Ariel carve through corners more precisely. Additionally, a revised steering rack and a set of four-piston calipers that clamp down on 11.4-inch rotors at all four corners further improve driver confidence.

Atomic Interior

While the Atom 4 is no less raw than those Atoms that came before it, the two-seater is far more comfortable. Credit a two-inch longer wheelbase that translates directly to the passenger area. With more space to stretch out and an additional inch of width, the Atom 4 ought to comfortably fit those of more generous proportions. 

Like its exterior, the Atom 4's insides are decidedly barren. Still, the car features a color TFT screen that displays various data, including the shifter's current gear position and shift lights. The screen also displays the feed for the car's available $495 backup camera.

Barebones Price

High-performance vehicles often wear high sticker prices. The Atom 4 is no different, and the base model stickers for $74,750. If you consider the fact the Atom 4 lacks the typical creature comforts of cars costing a fraction of its price, then you might view this sum as rather exorbitant. However, if you take a minute to consider the Atom 4's performance capabilities and frill-free driving experience, then you might just view the open-roofed Ariel as a downright bargain.