What we see in today’s episode of Patrolhead’s Corner may at first look like someone building it at home in his own shed using an angle grinder with the lights off, but it’s actually, Latest model of aerial motors. Indeed, the small British company responsible for such gems as the Atom and Nomad cars is behind this… thing. It’s called a hypercar, not a typo by yours truly. The aerial hypercar is an engineering exercise not only in its looks but also in its power. well could not Power it up, as it can come with a very hot optional extra! Care to learn more? Lean back, put your feet up (it’s Saturday!) and read.
When I first discovered this a couple of days ago, I wasn’t exactly surprised by what I initially saw. To me, it seemed pretty bonkers, but as I learned more, my curiosity got the best of me and eventually it won me over. Behind this wild exterior is a very powerful electric drivetrain, and while it may look like just another absurdly powerful EV hypercar, the Ariel wouldn’t be an Ariel if it didn’t have a few tricks up its sleeve!
Inside Cars & Bikes
It’s best to talk about Ariel as a company first. Ariel was a small British sports car and bike manufacturer built on the foundation of the Ariel Company from the late 1800s. Ariel built the Ordinary in 1871, the first metal bicycle. Designed by Richard Starley, the Ordinary featured a revolutionary steel frame, patented spoked wire wheels and rubber tires. Aerial bicycles were produced well into the 1930s. In the early 19th century, Ariel also began producing motorized vehicles with the tricycle (1898) and quadricycle (1900) and the Minerva motorcycle in 1901. Ariel also had a crack at a Grand Prix race car and actually won. Second Brooklands race. Later, the company went on to produce a range of motorbikes, but by the mid-to-late 1960s, the company was completely dead.
The name was revived for the prototype in 1996 by Simon Saunders with input from Stewart Grand Prix (which became Red Bull Racing), TWR, Ford and Aston Martin. That prototype would become the basis for the Ariel Atom we know today, which was officially launched in 1999, with first deliveries beginning in 2000. The revolutionary car that started with the dream of building a new Lotus 7 has a girder-like exoskeleton. And very few body panels. In a true exercise in less is more, the Ariel proved that light weight is still key to producing an agile high-performance car. The Atom is basically little more than a chassis, four wheels, two seats and an engine. No windshield, no doors, no roof and only minimal amenities in creature comforts. By 2003 the second generation Atom was introduced, a 220bhp 4-cylinder engine derived from the Honda Civic Type R. It famously rearranged Jeremy Clarkson’s facial features in an episode of Top Gear;
In 2010 Ariel went a little nuts and put a 500bhp V8 engine in the Atom, a car that weighs a ridiculous 550kg. That car held the Top Gear lap record for two years before it was bested by the Mercedes-AMG GT-R. The third generation Atom was introduced in 2013 and a year later, Ace Motorcycles brought back the Ariel. It has a similar chassis to the Atom with a girder front fork and multiple configurations available. Packed with a 173bhp Honda 4-cylinder engine, it’s a bike away! A year later, Ariel Motor Company would take the Atom off-road concept when they launched the Nomad. Built around the same style chassis, the Nomad has upgraded suspension, an engine between 235bhp and 335bhp and weighs less than 700kg. Although the top speed is listed as 200kph (or 125mph), the Nomad takes less than 4 seconds to hit 100kph. And the road
The Ariel Hypercar
That’s all well and good, but it’s time to take you into the future of aerial motoring with the Hypercar. Again, the spelling of hypercar is not a typo, as it is an acronym for High-Performance Carbon Reduction. In short, it is nothing less than an ultra-high-performance electric sports car. Although we’ve seen a few of them, the hypercar does things a little differently.
Most notably, it will feature a fully enclosed cockpit, a first for an Ariel. So we have a roof, doors and windshield, which means you’re at least protected from the elements. But there’s more to the hypercar’s body shell, as it looks like a mini-Batmobile gone mad. There are all kinds of cuts and slashes, big air intakes and exhausts, and even vertical stabilizer fins through the entire bodywork. It looks really mental and I can’t decide if I like it or if it’s a bit too much, although I imagine it follows the form in this case. And while it’s technically a prototype, the aerial bodywork is intended to hit the production rather than an actual one.
Full carbon fiber bodywork sits on a bonded aluminum chassis, covered by removable front and rear subframes. The car only seats two people, with lightweight carbon fiber bucket seats in Alcantara. You get access to the cockpit with butterfly doors, everyone’s favorite supercar party trick. Thanks to a braking system by AP Racing, you also get fully adjustable suspension all around and much-needed stopping power. The lightweight wheels are fitted with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres.
So, in short, everything Ariel does focuses on extreme performance by using lightweight materials, high-tech components and, of course, big power. And the hypercar certainly has big power! Since it’s an EV, the exterior hides a battery pack and two or four electric motors. With this setup, you can choose to have only the rear wheel with 590bhp or go all out and have a motor with 1,180bhp at each wheel. The range is only 150 miles or about 220 kilometers when running on full electricity, but there is an option to fix that.
I’ve already hinted at it in the title of this Petrolhead Corner episode, and technically speaking, it’s nothing more than a range extender, powered by an original working turbine engine from an Ariel Cosworth to charge the battery pack on the go! It doesn’t improve the performance stats one bit (other than the range, duh) but it makes for a very interesting conversation, right? Who doesn’t want to brag about having an actual turbine powering their car, like a Houmet TX or Jaguar C-X75? And I know a turbine spinning up to 110,000rpm isn’t powering any wheels, but it’s pretty cool.
However, the Ariel hypercar weighs 1,500 kg or less, and with that monstrous 1,180 horsepower, if you go for all-wheel electric drive, you’ll hit 100 km/h in just 2.09 seconds. Accelerate! With torque vectoring, a technology used in cars to adjust torque levels through the drivetrain to achieve optimum performance, it takes less than two seconds. Zero to 160kph (100mph) takes just 4.4 seconds (or less than 4 seconds with torque vectoring). I can’t imagine what it feels like when you floor the throttle! Top speed is quoted as “only” 250kph (155mph), but in everyday use, it’s much higher, really. No prices have been revealed as of now, but when the hypercar goes into production, it will cost a pretty penny!
For more information, please visit Ariel-Motor.co.uk.