In 2008 Ariel upgraded their seminal design with new suspension geometry and a Honda K20Z engine. Called the Atom 3, it replaced the outgoing model with its K20A engine.
Development of the Atom is very much an evolutionary process with input taken on board from journalists, road testers. race drivers, suppliers and customers. The Atom 3 therefore features not only the new Honda Type R engine but a host of detail changes throughout the car More performance, smoother engine, better interior space, improved suspension and better driver comfort all contribute to make this third generation of the Atom the best so far. Visually the Atom 3 is immediately identifiable by the latest chassis with new diagonal side rails and the return to a twin outlet exhaust, but these are only the surface details that identify the numerous detail changes to the Atom.
Chassis: The chassis features a new diagonal side structure, designed to give more interior space particularly at elbow level, together with a slightly wider chassis at shoulder level. Overall width of the chassis has been increased by
60mm with elbow room being improved by 100mm. while track and overall width of the car remains the same. Although every tube in the chassis has been changed the car retains the original Atom look but now offers even more interior space than the original.
Engine: The Atom 3 continues the association between Ariel and Honda with the latest version of the Honda Type R engine. The 2.0 iVTEC features balancer shafts and Ariel have changed engine mounts to incorporate more isolation into the chassis so the new installation offers considerable improvements in NVH as well as the general improvements that come with latest Honda technology. The Atom 3 will continue to be available in standard normally aspirated form and supercharged to 3Q0bhp, with the latest engine offering more torque low down. Fly-by-wire throttle, new gearchange, fuel system, air intake, ecu and twin outlet exhaust are all part of the changes to Atom 3 and demonstrate the thoroughness and attention to detail present in the Atom 3.
Gearbox: Again the latest Honda 6 speed close ratio gearbox is used from the Type R with latest baffling and internals, modified gear ratios and now with the option of a Quaife Limited Slip Differential.
Suspension: The Atom 3 retains the inboard, pushrod operated damper system, but with changes to bellcranks and dampers. With enormous input from Bilstein the new car features the option of new 10 way adjustable dampers with latest valving and needle roller bearings in bellcranks. Already known for its unique ride qualities in a low volume lightweight car the Atom now lakes this a staae further with performance increases dynamically on road as well as on track.
Body: Aesthetically the Atom remains unchanged, although nearly every panel on the car has been slightly modified. Considerable aero work in both CFD (Computer Fluid Dynamics] simulations and time on the road testing has lead to a simple deflector option to reduce pressure on the head when driving at speed. The new seal also lowers the driver and passenger in the car to give more comfort at speed and lower the centre of gravity plus the option of two seats for different sized drivers.