Life isn’t easy for small carmakers, but it can be easier when they find good partners. British firm Ariel has one in Honda, which has supplied engines to the company for the past 16 years, and will continue to do so into the future.
The two companies say they will renew their engine-supply arrangement, which is good news for anyone lusting after Ariel’s admirably minimal Atom and Nomad. Ariel says it just completed its 1,500th Honda-powered car in 16 years. The company works out of a small shop in Somerset, England, and notes that it would take Honda just a few days to build that amount of Civics at the Japanese firm’s massive U.K. plant in Swindon.
Starting in 2003, Ariel has used multiple four-cylinder Honda engines in its cars, which are defined by a tubular exoskeleton structure. The firm started out with a 2.0-liter engine from the previous-generation Civic Type R, and eventually added a 2.4-liter engine as well. The latter is used in U.S.-spec Atoms and the off-road Nomad. A handful of Atoms were also sold in the U.S. with a General Motors Ecotec four-cylinder, and then there was the Atom 500, which featured a custom-built 3.0-liter V8.
Base Atom models use a mostly-stock version of the 2.0-liter engine, with an Ariel-specific software tune and exhaust. It produces 245 horsepower out of the box, but there are also options to supercharge it to 310 hp or 350 hp. In top form, Ariel says the Atom will do 0 to 60 mph in 2.7 seconds, and reach a top speed of 155 mph. And, as Jeremy Clarkson famously found out, it will also destroy your face.
U.S. importer TMI AutoTech offers Atom models with the larger 2.4-liter engine. The Atom 3 produces 230 hp and does 0 to 60 mph in 2.9 seconds, while the turbocharged 3S boasts 365 hp, and 0 to 60 mph in “less than 2.8 seconds,” according to the company. The naturally-aspirated version is also offered in the Nomad, which is basically an off-road version of the Atom.
And who knows where things will go from here. The current Honda Civic Type R uses a new turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 305 hp from the factory. Imagine what Ariel could do with one of those.