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How the Ariel Atom Works

        Auto | Exotic Cars

Inside the Atom Engine
Driving is Elemental

Most production vehicles try to eliminate cockpit noise completely. In an Atom, the driver is exposed to the roar of the engine and the face-rippling force of the airflow, much like the rider of a motorcycle or a speedboat. This can be disconcerting, especially for first-time drivers, which is why a helmet is highly recommended.

Check out the Ariel Atom site to watch a video of "Top Gear" host Jeremy Clarkson test-driving an Ariel Atom.

Unlike Formula One racers with monstrous V10 engines and systems tuned to conform to strict rules, the Atom was designed to be accessible -- and drivable -- by anyone. It is fundamentally no different than the Honda Civic parked in your garage. It has:

Let's take a closer look at these systems to see what makes the Atom tick.


Image courtesy Brammo Motorsports / Ariel Atom
CAD illustration of the engine


Image courtesy Brammo Motorsports / Ariel Atom
A close-up of the North American Ariel Atom's GM
Ecotec engine.

The Engine
In Europe, the Atom comes standard with Honda's four-cylinder iVTEC engine -- the same engine used in Honda Civic and Civic Type-R models. This might seem a bit pedestrian, but the Honda iVTEC, with a displacement of 1,998 cubic centimeters and a power output of 220 horsepower (280 horsepower with tuning), is considered by many to be the best four-cylinder production engine in the world.

In North America, the Atom comes standard with a General Motors Ecotec engine made in Germany. This is the same engine GM uses in the Chevy Cobalt SS and Saturn models, and it doesn't lose anything in the translation. Available in both 2.2-liter and 2.0-liter supercharged versions, the Ecotec engine delivers between 140 and 300 horsepower, depending on the specific package. At the low end of the performance spectrum, what Brammo considers its "budget" model, the Atom could keep up with a Porsche 911 Turbo. At the high end of the spectrum, the Ecotec-outfitted Atom just might be the fastest car in the world.