Since 2003, Ariel has offered the Atom with Honda's high-revving 2.0-litre K20Z4 four-cylinder engine, used in earlier iterations of the Civic Type R. In the Atom, the normally aspirated engine develops, with the help of an Ariel-tuned ECU and exhaust, 183kW in standard trim.
Customers may also opt for a supercharged version of that engine with either 231kW or 261kW of power. The most powerful version is capable of propelling the lightweight Atom from 0-60mph (0-97km/h) in under 2.7 seconds and onwards to a top speed in excess of 250km/h.
According to Simon Saunders, founder of Ariel Motors: "Our customers are hugely passionate about driving so the engine is everything. When we tell new customers that it’s a Honda they simply nod and move on to the next question. They just know that it works. Switching to Honda engines is one of the best decisions that we’ve ever made."
When the Atom was launched in 2000, it was powered by 89kW and 142kW versions of the 1.8-litre Rover K Series engine. In 2010, the company sold a limited run of Atoms powered by 354kW 3.0-litre and 373kW 3.2-litre V8 engines, both of which were developed in-house.
The announcement overnight coincides with the departure of the 1500th Honda-engined vehicle from Ariel's small factory in Crewkerne, Somerset. The milestone has taken 16 years to reach; Ariel says that this is partly down to the fact that it takes eight technicians between 100 and 200 hours to build each of its vehicles.
Honda will also continue supply to Ariel with a 175kW 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine for use in the recently unveiled Nomad off-roader (above). Similarly, the Ariel Ace motorcycle is powered by a 129kW 1.2-litre Honda V4 engine.