Before we get into the actual meat and potatoes of this review, please know that the absolute absurdity of the Ariel Atom 3 is not lost on us. It starts out as a sordid collection of mild steel tubing and a somewhat unassuming 2.0-liter K20Z four-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed manual, both pulled from the Honda parts bin. Throw in some fiberglass and a smattering of carbon fiber, four wheels, two lightweight racing seats with four-point harnesses, a steering wheel and some pedals, and that's just about it, save the optional windshield.
Getting into the driver's seat of the Ariel Atom is an interesting exercise. The car has no doors, no roof and no hood. It's like climbing into a four-wheeled jungle gym. Because of that, it's necessary to step on the driver's seat (wipe your feet, please) after throwing your leg over the high, unmovable latticework of tubes that make up the Atom's basic structure. However, once you learn the routine, it's not too difficult, and the payoff – something we've been aching to sample for more than a few years – is assuredly worth the effort.
So with visions of Jeremy Clarkson's misshapen face dancing in our brains, we unleashed the clutch in the Ariel Atom 3. And promptly stalled it.