Atomic assault on the senses

This is the new 3.5R, a sharper, track-focused edition of the supercharged lightweight Ariel Atom, says Sam Philip in Top Gear. And is it fast? Not really.

“‘Fast’ doesn’t even begin to describe the furious, screaming, mass-free manner in which the 3.5R gathers speed. Neither does ‘rapid’, ‘warp speed’ or ‘oh dear, I appear to have left my face behind’.”

From rest, you’ll get to 60mph in around 2.5 seconds, and 100mph will be behind you in less than six.

Driving it is “such a furious assault on the senses that you spend the first few full-bore bursts of acceleration caught in a strange emotional limbo, simultaneously cackling in delight andwhimpering in terror, unable to process the maelstrom of speed and noise and horizon and bees piling straight into your face”. It is “one of the great motoring experiences”.

It’s hard to come up with enough superlatives to describe the car, agrees Kirby Garlitos on It might lack in aesthetic appeal, but it more than makes up for that with a driving experience unlike any other.

“Weighing just 1,220 pounds, the Atom’s skeletal structure lends itself to the kind of unnerving performance that makes test driving the car tantamount to a near-death experience.” This is “as good as it gets for speed seekers”.

Price: £54,000
Engine: 2.0 litre, supercharged
Power: 350bhp
Top speed: 155mph (limited)
0-60mph: 2.5 seconds