It looks like a go-kart, accelerates and corners like a race car, and has enough manners to drive on the street ... and it just got a little better. Ariel Motor Company revealed the Atom 3.5 this week, the latest iteration of its open-top, bare-chassis Atom sports car.
The Atom 3.5 takes a step forward from the Atom 3 in a number of ways. The naturally aspirated 2.0-liter Honda VTEC engine keeps the same output of 245-bhp, but the supercharged option is raised to 315-bhp via modifications to the intake, mapping and fuel system. The engine mountings have also been revised.
Taking a cue from its limited edition models, like the Atom V8 and Mugen, Ariel stiffens up the 3.5's tubular steel chassis. A new set of dampers works with the chassis modifications to deliver a more optimized combination of road comfort and track balance and traction. A new set of projector headlamps and LED turn signals and taillights ensures the improved ride can be fully enjoyed by night, as well as day.
Inside the tiny rig, a new LCD digital display provides the necessary information about speed, RPMs and the like. Those that are serious about pushing the car – and why would you buy such a car if you weren't – can add a data logger to the display to get real time data about lap times, G force and other measures.
Ariel doesn't mention any bottom-line performance increases, but with numbers like a 2.7-second 0-60 mph (97 km/h) and an 11-second 0-100-0 mph (0-161-0 km/h), the Atom has never been hurting for an upgrade in that department.