It's difficult to put it into words, it's that good and it's that exciting! The Sunday Times
The Ariel Nomad is not a car - it's a dune buggy on amphetamines
immediate, and terrifically fast
Here's an Ariel Nomad, wearing an R, which you'll have already correctly assumed means its a fast one. The standard one, with 235bhp, is capable of 0-60 in 3.4secs, this one... accelerates like a ball bearing in a pinball machine. Ariel already offers a supercharger kit for the standard Nomad, taking the 2.4 litre up to 300bhp, but if you want a full house track toy...
capable and fun
Every summer, your thoughts no doubt turn to treating yourself to a sporty motor - perhaps ones that lets you get the wind in your hair. There's a raft of punchy open-tops on offer, but one of the sportiest of the bunch lets you get the wind in your eyes, mouth and shorts as well. Yes, its the Ariel Atom...
This force is kind of addictive
It accelerates like a ball bearing in a pinball machine. Anyone in a supercar who clocks ‘off-road buggy’ had better be on their game, because up to 100mph they’re likely to lose out. This force is kind of addictive as there’s zero lag in the supercharger and you’re always in the powerband, so every time you clog it you strain your neck. It’s a special engine.
intuitive and involving
You won't believe any car could be as fast across open ground as this, and if you opt to leave the engine in the most powerful setting, you'll be braver than most. But then and shortly thereafter, something else will occur to you: for all its additional pace the new Atom 4 is actually a far easier car to drive fast thanks to its all new chassis.
Its a totally absorbing machine
The Ariel Atom has succeeded where so many of its ilk have fallen short. Beating the truly great and considerably more usable Mclaren 600LT Spider into second place by a clear margin, this West Country marvel simply stunned us all. Some were visibly stuck for words to describe it; others on reflection settled for “exhilarating”, “visceral”, “absorbing” and “raw”. Nobody awarded it fewer than 22 points for its showing on the track, and nobody placed it outside of their top three overall. Incredible.
Our testers handed it an ultra rare 5 star score
Verdict * * * * * Track slayer is unrivalled for built in quality and dynamic character Having played the renegade on the ultra-lightweight sports car scene for so long, the Ariel Atom has now become a key part of the establishment it once sort to disrupt. Such progression doesn’t happen by chance and this car is so typical of how cleverly its maker has developed it over the years to retain what makes it so special. In a visual sense the Atom remains an appealing car to anyone who likes the idea of being able to see their car working. It’s also so deliciously simple that it makes modern ideas of perceived quality and more meaningful built-in quality one and the same consideration. A turbocharged engine has boosted the car’s usability as well as its roll on performance with little entailed compromise, while Ariel’s other chassis and suspension tweaks have proven well worth making. The Atom retains so absorbing a dynamic character that it can be enormous fun on both road and track, when so many of its rivals simply can’t do both. Outstanding.
as capable as any 4x4 I could want
Everyone came back in, shiny eyed and exhilarated, raving about it.
Hoooooooly cheek flaps, only an Atom does that – boosts you down the road with such viciousness that you hit the limiter while your brain struggles to compute and your left hand tries to grab another gear. You slot in the precise, mechanical gear lever when the boost is high and the response is instant and conclusive. So the Atom has lost none of tactility in the corners or violence on the straights, but it appears to have gained a maturity none of us were quite expecting. Suspension that absorbs the bumps not pinging off them, and even more grip and more predictability when you breach those limits. You ask it questions and wait for the answers, and that’s what makes the it so brilliant – driving one is a conversation and no two laps need to be the same. So well set up, so controllable up to and beyond the limit.
chassis and dynamic set up of such exquisite quality
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Ariel likes doing theings big manufacturers can't.
every machine is a work of art
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is a magical blend of stiffness and compliance
Helmet on, garage door up and out we go. The wind is incredible and I notice it passes straight through the car's skeleton. Needless to say I start with the turbo set at 1, but the Atom is still effortless in its overtaking, casually slicing past traffic with a lightly squeezed throttle. The ride, thanks to the new suspension, is a magical blend of stiffness and compliance, communicating the surface details without feeling harsh or jolting. Likewise is the steering - a slightly slower rack combines accuracy with a new composure. Soon I have the turbo up to 3. The Atom 4 is a magnificent achievement for such a small team: more resolved and cohesive than before, it’s a work of madness and genius in equal measure.
For two decades Ariel has been creating pure driving machines
But once you build speed, the dichotomy of this car soon becomes clear: it is insanely quick yet, all the time that you are enjoying what must equate to a £150,000 - £200,000 driving experience for £40,000, the word that keeps springing to mind is refinement. It’s so much smoother at any speed that driving is far easier throughout the rev range, and everything – handling, braking, steering, throttle – is simply superb, the absolute pinnacle of what any enthusiastic sports car driver could possibly demand. You would expect that, though. Indeed, while no-one would claim that it is the most practical thing on four wheels, what is most remarkable about the Atom 4 is not how well it goes quickly – they all do that – but how well it goes slowly.
A new level in lightweight
This is a lightweight that's grown up. Just look at the thought that's gone into it: it has strong headlights, the new dash is brilliantly logical and easy to use, the fit and finish is immaculate; there's an auto-immobiliser that never needs come out of your pocket; its tractable around town. This is a more complete, polished and capable car, a new level in lightweight.
The Atom 4 is a delight
This Atom has a better power to weight ratio than a McLaren 540C – on its lowest boost setting. So even 220bhp provides acceleration unlike that of almost any car you’re likely to see on the road. The 260bhp middle setting offers searing, otherworldly thrust while the full fat 320bhp will just make you laugh and your passenger cry.
Still utterly brilliant.
A deeply impressive machine
it indulges you in every way
Winner - Lightweight of the Year 2018
538bhp per tonne, 0-100 in 6.5 seconds. So what impresses me most is how docile and tractable it is at low revs, how easy to potter around Bristol. No stuttering on the throttle, no petrol smells, awkward clutch or weird throttle calibration. It’s as well engineered as a VW Golf, without the cast of thousands involved in its creation. British lightweights are often criticised for their dated appearance, their lack of technology and advancement. Well, here’s one that’s different, that is distinguished enough to alter the way we look at the whole lightweight class. It’s the same as before, but fresh and modern. It’s the biggest advance in Ariel’s 20 year history, so yeah, a revolution. A Very British Revolution. This one made in Somerset.
To say I love this car would be an understatement
The most exiting thing to come out of the West Country
On the road, it's a ruddy cheeky riot, how you imagined driving would feel when you were a kid pushing Corgi F1 Models accross the kitchen floor. Wrapped in that spindle of scaffold, you feel part of the machine itself, part of the very road, ensconed within the guts of the car, Honda Engine blaring behind your head, rally-spec suspension chuntering away just beyond your feet. Off the road, its even better, absorbing anything the countryside can throw at it, always coming back for more.
Possibly the best performance car in the world
The Ariel Atom 4 is a rare delight. It's a driver's car in the British tradition, and is as much a part of these islands' motoring heritage as an E-Type, MGA or Blower. When you compare Ariel's £40,000 asking price with the cost of owning these or any other classic, joining the Atom 4's two-year waiting list seems like a very sensible thing to do. This really is an exceptional automobile – among the best cars Britain has produced this century.
The Nomad is one relentless hoot to drive
I think what we love most about the Ariel Nomad is not its mad apperance, certifiable performance or back to basics approach to absolutely everything, it is that it's a car no normal car company would ever have created. Not only is it a car you can buy for less than 50Grand, its one you can enjoy for years, so long as its maintained properly, when you come to sell, you should get almost all you money back too.
The Atom has grown up: still blindingly quick, but with an added measure of civility
There's just always loads of oomph to exploit a chassis that has made a step change from former Atoms; less skittish, less wild, less inclined to fall into oversteer in the manner of, say, Caterhams or a Toyota GT86. This might sound daft, but on the road it also feels not unlike a 488 GTB in its handling stance: firmly pliant, evenly balanced, willing to turn, able to be straightened on the throttle, and resistant to roll. At a stroke, the Atom has become a car that rides and steers in a more sophisticated way than before.
Brilliant, unsurpassed, All but flawless
Every nowand again we experience something that's completely new and know that things have just been redefined. Driving along a West Country road, wathcing a Nomad's wheels bob up and down and yet feeling no deviation to the body is exactly one of those. The dampers were very trick I know, but I'd never experienced suspension control like it.
The best driver's car I've been in this year
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It’s a heck of a leap, and a great driver’s car.
There’s fluidity to it as you mooch, part throttle, turbo spooling and sucking in air like somebody is doing the vacuuming just behind your left shoulder, and shushing on the overrun like a PA announcer gently quietening a rowdy awards crowd. The Atom 4 is ludicrously fast. It’s quick enough in position one on the turbo map, but flick it through to three – you might as well get used to it – and the urgency and response are astonishing.
No pomp and ceremony here, just brilliant things being done brilliantly
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cornering speed moves to another level
The new Ariel Atom 4, the fourth generation of the high performance sports car launched in 1999, is the fastest standard version yet and has bdeen entirely rebuilt from the ground up. The Atom 4 uses the latest Honda Civic Typr R turbo engine delivering 320bhp and gets a new chassis, suspension, steering, brakes and body work with significant aerodynamic improvements as well as new seating and instrumentation.
with a few clicks on the dampers, you can change it from track car to trophy truck
‘Just clear thinking, attention to detail and zero tolerance of corner cutting’
The philosophy behind the Nomad is simplicity itself
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When you put your foot down, no car can keep up
This is the Third Pillar. I've got luxury covered, I've got practicality covered and I've got absolute insanity covered with the Ariel Atom. When you drive a car you want to feel alive, you want to feel a sense of fun, slightly out of control, of andrenaline building inside you. That car gives you that feeling like no other vehicle in this room, as far as I'm concerned.
The fit and finish is factory MotoGP-spec and the quality is incredible.
On fast sweeping A-road nothing touches down. It can hustle this bike. A glorious V4 soundtrack, supple Ohlins suspension and a sporty riding position. Get in the groove, work the engine and feel the suspension doing its thing. The Ace can cover ground on a twisty B-road make no doubt about that. It’s well-built, stunning to look at and classy with it. But more than a piece of eye candy which everyone wants to know about whenever you stop, the Ace works as fast, practical roadster you could ride to work every day if you fancied it.
The Ariel Nomad is dynamically one of the most remarkable cars in the world
The car’s got that sensationally pliant, eerily settled ride, which seems only to encourage you to go faster over every bump you cross. I’ll be picking the dirt from my glasses and the stones from my shoes for days to come, but how many other new cars could brighten a dark month as brilliantly as a Nomad. What else that’s remotely comparable could turn on such charm in as many different settings and scenarios? What rival is this complete, this well engineered, this usable and this much fun?
A bright orange “Honey I Blew Up The Tamiya Truck” for the streets.
It drives over the landscape with wanton abandonment just like the toy car you pushed around the kitchen and Euro NCAP tested against the skirting board. There’s no doubt in my mind that it’s the most entertaining driving instrument on the planet. It’s an utterly mad gem that moves you in a way other cars simply can’t
A wonderfully involving car to drive
There is already a big grin on my face and I’m surprised at how well the Nomad is coping with the bigger hitsgiven its diminutive size. Although the heightened levels of feedback were initially a shock to the system, it is actually very nice having so much information. If a Nomad was your first foray into the world of gravel driving I can imagine that would be a real reassurance.
Matt is still discovering pockets of Saharan sand about his person
If there’s one manufacturer that sums up the blue-skying, ideas-showering, thinking-so-far-outside-the-box-you-can’t-even-see-the-box-anyomore ingenuity of the British motor industry – even more than Mclaren, even more than Jaguar – it’s surely Ariel, the tiny Somerset outfit behind the fizzog-reshaping Atom.
Visual allure matched by outstanding dynamic performance
There’s nothing that compares to a Nomad. No extreme sport, no outdoor pursuit, no off-roader, or sports car, or combination of the two. It’s a unique and utterly magnificent proposition
Even though the off road capable Ariel is more than capable of scaring a sports car from standstill, the big grins are available at 50mph not 150mph. And the back roads around the Highlands make the point. These are not forgiving country lanes full of softish hedges and pillowy ploughed fields. These are rock and drop-facades with the feeling that if you take liberties, mercy will be in short supply. And yet, with the Nomad there’s an ability to deal with disastrous roads that makes you feel a bit giddy. The unbreakable immortal sense of not needing to slow down for potholes or thumping subsidence or, I don’t know, ditches and hump back bridges. Single track and sighted. You can cut the odd corner and watch the suspension punch skywards and suck back down. Bumps that would have you braking and wincing in a hot hatch are smothered into faint concussions. Flick through the six speed manual and rev with abandon, and you’re greeted by the cruel whoop of the supercharger just behind your left ear, underlaid by a hiss of induction roar and a vague burr of exhaust. So many modern sports cars leave you feeling that the least important or reliable component in their technical war game. Not so for Ariel. This is no domesticated, gelded thrill. This is a company that makes cars that are as much about the driver as the car.
it looks so much fun
It looks so much fun it scarcely seems possible, a crazed designer’s scrapbook doodle made real, in steel, rubber and glass. Despite driving only its rear wheels, because the Nomad is light , has its engine over its driven wheels and can be specified with some very serious off road tyres, rally specification dampers and massive suspension travel there are very few places where it cannot follow a purpose made off roader. And this is only the start: Ariel are already putting the finishing touches to the supercharged Nomad, a move that will render the car even madder than it looks. Because with a car like this, even too much of a good thing can only be better.
100-200 hours painstakingly hand-crafting one vehicle at a time
The way this car takes you from zero to hero in not very long at all makes it something truly brilliant
The lightweight had astonished us with its ability to ride Norfolk roads like its bumps simply weren’t there. We loved the space and time it gives you to set it up for corners, thanks to that smoothness. And it’s the Nomad’s attitude, that joie de vivre, that would serve the Nomad best in the Dales and because the Nomad simply wants you to have fun.
The Ariel gets to 100 in 6.1 seconds and 120 in 9.2
The Ariel Atom is to blame. For years we ran a competition called 0-100-0, an acceleration and braking test for cars that was, as the name suggested, a sprint from rest to 100mph and back to rest again. In the earlier years there was an unpredictability to the results. Lightweights and supercars vied for supremacy, while race and rally cars set non-production records. And then came the Ariel Atom with a supercharger strapped to its engine, and with it the unpredictability ended. What’ll be the quickest? It’ll be the Atom 300. Again. So we canned it.
Slinging a leg over the Ace Sport revealed a quite different riding position than the girder-fork GT I’d ridden one year earlier: more inclined thanks to the taller seat and the clip ons which are mounted to the tele fork legs above the tripleclamps. It’s not too extreme a sporty stance and definitely not tiring, even with the extra body weight on your arms and shoulders. Yet in spite of the taller seat you do still feel a part of the bike rather than perched on it, ensconced in the plushly upholstered seat.
We went to Sweet Lamb simply to find out if a Nomad really could stay with the pace of a purpose built rally car. And the answer is yes it can. And it can beat it.
It seems silly to sit here and write this, but the Nomad seemed to be going visibly quicker, more punctuated than ever by periods when you’d hear the revs go off the clock simply because the car was no longer connected to the ground. Our hearts were pumping hard just watching, so God knows what it must have been like inside. And when I looked at the stopwatch I thought I must have pressed the button at the wrong time. It said 1:25.8. So I consulted the two others also timing the run, both part of the Rally Hire team. Their watches said the same. So the Nomad beat the Group N Mitsubishi EVO IX by 1.5 seconds.
Brazenly bespoke, thundering and FAST
The Ace’s six piston radial brake package allows you to trail brake hard and deep into a bend and still feel the Ohlins forks eating up bumps and ripples in the road surface on the angle, with no trace of chatter even if you wind up turn speeds to race level velocity. Job done on the Ace’s handling guys.
it excels on another level
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It looks capable of surviving a forward roll through a war zone
The Nomad is a wonderful and novel experience. The exaggerated way you can manipulate the car’s weight distribution feels endlessly fascinating. And yet the way the suspension travel has been blended with precise controls means the whole thing has a deftness and immediacy that is very unusual. An automotive action man as much as a Tamiya buggy. Whatever the toy box analogy, the Nomad really does feel like the most tremendous plaything, and I can see it becoming a necessary addition to any garage.
Phyiscs bendingly brilliant
Powering through the network of connecting gravel roads the sheer amount of grip on offer is staggering. On tighter corners a tug on that giant one-armed-bandit limb of a handbrake tucks the nose in, but to really string the faster bits together you need to get the weight moving and set the car up for each curve. So you tread on and off the accelerator like a 19th century seamstress going full chat on her sewing machine, getting the front tyres to tuck in and sending the back free as you come off the gas and jink the wheel simultaneously. The Nomad is a fascinating machine.
Daring yourself to venture up into the higher rev zone induces more excitement, anticipation and adrenaline than most other cars put together.
Daily Mail - Chris Evans
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It's more fun when you're muddy
It’s practically impossible not to grin like an imbecile in the Nomad. And after a day of subjecting it to challenges ranging from gravel tracks to near swamp that the British Army uses to practice the recovery of bogged armored vehicles, we can report that the Nomad has off-road pace to rival a Baja racer.
Philosophy beyond the metalled road
The Nomad is a revelation: a pukka, beautifully finished sandrail/buggy/track car car that excels regardless of the situation in which you use it. Plenty of out testers would pick a Nomad to play with on circuit before they’d consider a dozen high-profile sports cars and super cars, and that’s not even the Nomad’s home turf. Get it on the road, where it’s also sensational, or loose ground, where it’s best of all, and it excels on another level. The key to it is that it’s not just technically accomplished and not just huge amounts of fun; it’s both at the same time. No other car lets you take so much joy from so few components.
Nomadic sensory overload
The Nomad is how you imagine driving would feel when ypou were a kid pushing Corgi F1 models across the kitchen floor. You feel part of the action, part of the very road itself, ensconced within the guts of the car, Honda engine behind your head, suspension working just beyond your feet. A joy on road, track and field, this car transforms any landscape into a personal playground.
Theres nothing quite like the Ace
Build quality and refinement is a revelation for a low volume machine. The chassis is at once utterly stable and solid yet has steering that’s light and precise and it’s all finished with a serene gloss only Ariel and Ohlins can give you. As a lump of metal it’s exquisite, while the riding experience is a real-world thrill. For performance and prestige, the best British bike yet built
I can't wait to plan an adventure in one
One of the biggest thrills of driving is the sense of adventure you get. Everyone remembers the heady buzz of freedom and possibility on their first solo drive after passing their test. And I think one of the reasons that the Nomad appeals so much is that it rekindles that sense of freedom. With its off road ability, the driving possibilities extend beyond the confines of tarmac and a whole world of opportunity is opened up. The canvas for going sideways is suddenly ten times broader.
I love it. I’ve got to get me one of these.
I find myself imagining I’m some giant remote-control Baja buggy and it’s like I’m reliving my childhood all over again. I dreamt of this when I was little, of being able to insert myself into a Tamiya Frog racer: now here I am. It’s magic. There’s no low range gearbox but the places the Nomad can get to will astonish you, as will the manner in which it does it. It’s wonderfully supple and confidence inspiring. I love it. I’ve got to get me one of these.
Doctor, I have a problem
Doctor, I have a problem. It’s almost a month since I drove an Ariel Nomad and I’m still obsessed. I lie awake at night wondering whether, if I sold this, pawned that, gave up the other, I could afford one. Just for a while, just so that its remarkable driving characteristics were always waiting at the end of the garden. But more than that. I can’t stop thinking that the Nomad’s suspension points to a different way, a better way. A way where compliant suspension is cherished and nurtured, where a car’s body movements are not just allowed but encouraged. Where dips crests, potholes and road lumps are isolated from a car’s cabin yet it remains brilliantly composed and perfectly damped.
The Atom is almost impossible to fault
And the winner? It has to be the car from Somerset. Ariel’s perpetual pursuit of the perfect Atom has really paid dividends with the 3.5R. The way it melds shocking performance with subtle control is quite incredible. The 3.5R is breathless, hilarious, controlled, precise, exilerating and is so enthralling that, when you’re in it, real life seems to just melt away. Nothing makes you smile quite like this fierce, frantic little car.
It’s the Atom’s off road brother and you want one
Where the Atom is for road and track, the Nomad is for road and off road. So you don’t need to have these vast 235/75R15 mud plugging tyres, but instead, should you prefer, some all season rubber or maybe a set of 18s with low profile tyres. Ariel is also working on a sand set-up, with narrow front tyres and huge paddle rear tyres, ideal for scaling dunes. The perfect one-car garage?
British & Brilliant
Like some of the best motorcycles ever built the Ace is powered by a V4 and the Ace emits a full blooded 1200cc V4 growl. Close your eyes and you can imagine Joey Dunlop in the distance, bearing down like a guided missile on a factory Honda. The fuelling is flawless and there are no peaks or dips in the power curve. Famed for obsessive attention to detail in its cars, Ariel has lavished the same level of love in creating its first two wheeler. Ariel motorcycles is well and truly back.
Think you know fast?
Almost the earth comes alive
I wrap my fingers round the twist grip and wrench my wrist back. The front lifts and the pipes bark as I shifty into third and the Ace flies forward. As the trees flash by my mind struggles to imagine how this road would have looked 80 years ago and think of Lawrence’s words At 80 or so, I feel the earth moulding herself under me. It is me piling up this hill, hollowing this valley, stretching out this level place. Almost the earth comes alive, heaving and tossing like a sea. That is a thing that the slowcoach will never feel. It is the reward of speed. I could write you pages on the lustfulness of moving swiftly. In speed we hurl ourselves beyond the body. Our bodies cannot scale the heavens except on a fume of petrol. T. E. Lawrence
Off-road Ariel and a new kind of fun
Ariel’s stunning new Nomad on and off roader launched at Autosport International will offer an entirely new type of all-terrain high-performance driving when it hits the market this summer. Nomads will be bought for recreational driving on and off road but the car has credentials to achieve success in rally competition.
Dynamically styled, cleverly engineered, beautifully built and enjoyably powerful
That reduced weight combined with crisp fuelling, helps give the Ace thrilling and controllable acceleration. It's a fine bike for gentle cruising or attacking B roads. Handling is sure footed and stable with the girder front suspension, well controlled by a single Ohlins shock, plus abundant grip and fierce braking via the 6 piston Nissin callipers. The Atom has already earned Ariel a mighty reputation and many enthusiastic customers. The Ace is good enough to match that achievement bringing one of Britain's motorcycling marques back to life in considerable style.'
Ariel Nomad could be Rally Homologated
The new Ariel Nomad could be used for rallying in the United Kingdom and elsewhere. The Somerset firm has received numerous enquiries about the car, which was debuted at the Autosport International Show at the NEC. The company are going to be looking at different rally classes, single venue events as well as Cross Country Championships, trials and other off road events. Discussions are to be progressed with the MSA as well as one make series as with the Atom Cup
To say the Atom revels in these conditions is an understatement. There's so much feel and progression from both ends of the car, so much precision in the power delivery and just the right rate of response from the steering, you're always prepared for what the car is doing. And if you like to drift, well, the Atom will do it to your hearts content. The weather should have ruined this test, but instead it made it. Not necessarily because you'd want to drive an Atom in weather more suited to filming Noah but because even in these conditions it shone like the sun. Whether you're stood admiring it, or in the eye of the storm driving it, the Atom 3.5R is worth every penny.
push the throttle and I'm simply somewhere else..
A flawless demonstration of poise, feel, accuracy and simple blinding pace
You can drive it like the racing car it very nearly is - holding the brake way past the turn-in point, then using that seamless flow of power to cannon it away from the apex with just a touch of understeer, transmitting to easily held oversteer at the exit if you want it. A car we've always loved can take its rightful place among the finest handling cars of its or any other era.
We're sure excited about the Ace. Bravo
I love this Atom
Over the last few years I've enjoyed every Atom I've driven, but this one has the perfect set up and is improved in every area. It exhibits little understeer and the transition into oversteer is smooth and precise, and the brakes work brilliantly. The more rigid chassis and improved damping have really brought the appeal of this mad, manic little car into sharp focus, and given the perfect platform to an engine with astonishing torque and top end fury. I wasn't even concerned about lap times at all because I just wanted to stay out and enjoy every element of it.
And now he's fully connected to the synaptic steering of the Atom, things get markedly faster on open roads with no limits outside of built up areas. 'It's good now - just tiny inputs to the wheel, miniature increments. You can drive it like a pussycat and do 35mpg or put your boot in and it's madness. It's so light it'll pull sixth gear down to 30mph and it fuels really cleanly. I haven't laughed like this in a car for ages,' John says. 'The noise is amazing. It feels as though it'll suck you through the airbox and eat you. On track it would whip the Fireblade and I don't think there's anything else around £35K that can blow your head off like this.' McGuinness gently coerces Honda's Beth to strap herself into the passenger seat for a wee jaunt up the hill. After mild protestation she obliges and the duo scream away up into the afternoon. When the orange machine hurtles into view again they're fairly travelling. McGuninness keeps it pinned until he has to brake for our turning. Both emerge in fits of laughter. 'That was over 150mph,' says John, 'I couldn't work out if that was Beth screaming or the noise of the supercharger.'
On 13 years of testing I've never ridden a bike that grabs so much praise
Increased pace puts the chassis in a different light again. On well surfaced A roads it scribes super-stable arcs, composed and accurate, and any sense of firmness disappears over the bumps and wriggles of a B road as the suspension swallow the road. The Ace turns readily yet never with any trace of flightiness, steering easily and precisely with an ever present sense of composure
Making a great car even greater
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But as with the Atom, thanks to Ariel's unique bespoke build system not seen before on a series production motorcycle, which will permit each motorcycle to be tailored to individual customer taste, no two Aces will be the same. From low-riding Cruiser, through Streetfighter and Roadster versions, to hard edged Supersport variant, each Ace is entirely unique, tailored to suit the individual tastes of each customer.
An epic battle...
…quite simply, one of the most exhilarating experiences available within this stratosphere.
We mere mortals shall never know the chilling cocktail of fear, adrenaline and raw acceleration felt by Felix Baumgartner as he stepped from the platform of this balloon 24 miles above the Earth and plunged towards terminal velocity at shocking pace. But for a close approximation, try a full bore launch in the facelifted Ariel Atom 3.5 down a Somerset road. It is, quite simply, one of the most exhilarating experiences available within this stratosphere. The Atom serves up the most visceral espresso shot of pure acceleration this side of a superbike, an addictive, cortex-melting high that transforms you into a speed-hooked junkie.
the factory are the best I have dealt with, bar none
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Giving customers what they want is the essence of the Ace
Ariel has done a fantastic job with its first bike. The engine sounds throaty and muscular, it goes like stink, and the ride and handling feel incredibly stable and predictable. There is no singular, definitive Ace because the new bike has been conceived as a Mr Potato Head of interchangeable options, a 3D configurator that allows you to choose between a cruiser or a sports bike or something in between. Ariel has truly carved out a niche of their own.
There's no car on the planet that's quite like the Ariel Atom.
The Atom's most stunning feature is its chassis with its fat curved tubes and neat welding that looks like its been done by a brain surgeon during a weekend off. If you like bikes you'll love the Atom. But what I love is the Atom's lovely detailed bits and bobs. The pedals, suspension units and brackets are as sexy as those found on the best superbikes. I love it.
They've split the Atom: what a blast
It's catchable and exploitable and these Atoms are FAST.
The first round is on Silverstone's full grand prix circuit, around which I initially thought an Atom might feel a bit lost. Not a bit of it, as it turns out. There's so much poke in an Atom that I'm only selecting sixth gear twice, towards the ends of the longest straights, and certainly not getting near the end of the Atom's acceleration. The increased negative camber, meanwhile, means the car really squats onto its road legal Yokohama tyres when cornering. Better than the set up, though, is the fact that, by crikey, these cars are good fun. I'm pleased with the results but more so with the sheer fun of it all.
Undoubted visual allure matched by outstanding dynamic performance
Trailbrake hard and deep into a bend and still feel the girder fork eating up bumps and ripples in the road surface even when leant over, with zero deflection or fork stiction to combat under heavy braking, and no trace of chatter even if you wind up torn speeds to race-level velocity. It holds a line and feels utterly predicatable. This outstanding handling and braking, with switcable ABS, is another of the new British bike's supreme qualities.
Dynamically the Atom is sublime.
Dynamically the Atom is sublime. The Atom's driver can relax and really get involved in enjoying the handling, which is the kartiest I've ever known on a car with number plates. The latest Atom 3.5 is where the affordable track car thrill benchmark currently resides - and that's all that matters in this ownership equation
Very brave, very Ariel
Riding the girder-forked Ariel Ace feels as though you're holding the front axle in your hands, in the way there's such clear and comprehensive feedback from the front Dunlop's contact patch. Think of it as a comfortable gentlemen's express with outstanding acceleration and beguiling top gear roll on. It's a package that allows its undoubtede performance to be coupled with an ultra-flexible delivery.
It's incredibly rewarding.
The ultimate factory custom
A lovely sports car even better.
An Ariel Atom has everything you need to enjoy an intensely engaging, immediate driving experience and not a jot or kilogram more. The Atom still pootles around very benignly when you want it to at low revs and is ludicrously fast at higher speeds. A new LCD dash unit features, too, showing which gear you’re in. This is a handy reminder, because all the gears tend to do the same thing in a supercharged Atom: bring the horizon closer at a generally alarming rate of knots.
The key element is Britishness.
It's hard to believe that the Ariel Ace is a new bike. It's seemingly come out of nowhere, is made by a car firm, and yet it's already better than many established production bikes. It rides beautifully and, crucially, doesn't try to be too clever with ride-by-wire electronics and a gazillion riding modes at this early stage in its life. You can't go far wrong when you start with a Honda VFR1200 engine and electronics, so it's no surprise the Ace's lump is a peach, developing linear power, with glitch-free fuelling and a nice kick at the top end. The V4 sounds fantastic and it's nice to see this engine in something a little funkier than its usual home. Ride quality is plush and thanks to its girder front end the steering is light and direct, even when braking for some of Goodwood's more nadgery corners. The 'fork' is designed to dive too - so the front end feels completely normal. It's mesmerising to see the top linkage bob up and down. What's even more impressive than the way it performs, and its immense braking power, is the build quality and attention to detail. Ariel produces exciting, well sorted, critically acclaimed cars and now it's done exactly the same with two wheels. This is a really well thought out motorcycle and for a first release it's incredible and was a real highlight of this year's Goodwood.
No greater recommendation.
It's like wearing a suit that's got 4 wheels attached to it
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Wild, intense and unbelievably fast
My God, what an experience. I can't find the right words to describe the acceleration. My right foot was nailed to the floor, the gears whizzing by like bullets from an Uzi. It's so intuitive, so communicative, it's a car you can grab with both hands and wring out with all your might. Put it this way a few days later I was driving the Porsche 911 GT3, and it felt s-l-o-w. Here's a car that could ruin you for driving anything else ever again
The Atom WINS
There's a split-second wheelspin before the Atom seems to launch into the Large Hadron Collider. What happens next is extraordinary: violent burst of air heralds the pneumatically activated gearchange and then the Atom shoots forward in a pummelling barrage of G-force. The Atom is the fastest of four incredibly rapid cars, if you could drive a rollercoaster it would feel a lot like an Atom 3.5R
The V8 is brilliant to its core
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I’m enjoying it more than almost anything else I’ve had the pleasure of driving.
Wriggling through Somerset’s damp, pockmarked lanes gives me a much-needed opportunity to acclimatise to my new vehicle. I feel simultaneously a component of the landscape and of the machine – I’ve strapped myself deep inside the car, but there are no doors and no body panels, which means I can reach out and touch the glistening grasses that line the roadside. I’m driving a Nomad, a preposterous vehicle developed and built by Somerset-based firm Ariel. These are the same mechanical wizards that made the legendary Ariel Atom, a stripped-down track car with an exoskeleton and an impossibly low kerb weight. Now, they’re taking those same principles off-road.
It's the most fun car here - no question.
There's more to the Atom than outright pace, mind. This is a car that is rewarding at any speed on road or track, thanks to its slick gearshift and steering wheel that is loaded with feel. It can carry an inordinate amount of cornering speed thanks to its inherent balance. Where even the most keen among the rest of the nine squirm before settling, the Atom is darty, instant with terrific control of its body movements and capable of grip levels that nothing else here can match.
the most fun you can have on four wheels
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All you have to do is drive
A true British success story keeps on getting better and better. The new-for-2013 Atom 3.5 in supercharged form isn't for the faint hearted but be gentle into the corner and you can fully exploit the performance potential - which is vast in a car that weighs just 550kg and has 310bhp on tap - on the way out in a car that's intuitive and direct to drive and easy to be at one with. They may not look so different, but to feel what's new, all you have to do is drive.
Practical? Hardly. Fun? Absolutely.
This maybe the baby of the family, but it's a baby with a better power to weight ratio than a Ferrari F12. Rememmber that. Also be advised that it had the best gearbox here and because it's so much lighter than an Elise and has a limited slip differential, you can kick it around on the throttle and place it accurately. What I will tell you is that despite encountering the most relentlessly awful weather on a shoot in at least the last decade, the Atom was still the one I drove most and was the most sorry to leave.
...fast becoming a legend.
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0-60 in a heart attack
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