The latest street rocket ship from Ariel has 1,180 horsepower and carbon bodywork, is electric, and has an optional 110,000 rpm turbine engine if you need a charge. The Hipercar might be ugly, but it sure has our attention.
Ariel Motor Company has just absolutely transformed its image. From a maker of barebones ultralights to the builders of this. It’s called the Hipercar and it makes nearly 1,200 horsepower from four electric motors with a battery pack setup that comes from high-performance legend Cosworth.
If you’ve heard of Ariel before, it’s probably for the Atom or the later Nomad. They’re both tube-frame ultralight specials, the former aimed at tearing up track days and British back roads, and the latter at point-to-point off-road rally raids.
With almost no bodywork, it’s the Atom that famously had TV presenter Jeremy Clarkson’s face flapping in the breeze like a Boxer with its head out of the window.
Hipcar: Ariel Discovers Body Panels
The Ariel Hipercar is the polar opposite of that. Sort of. It has a fully enclosed cockpit, for goodness sake! Just, well, take it easy on the stylists. There is some aerodynamic function, but remember that this is a company that (prior to now) worked its hardest to avoid putting a body on a car.
Hipercar is short for High-Performance Carbon Reduction, a nod to the car’s near-complete carbon fiber construction that slashes its curb weight. With four electric motors and a 62.2kWH battery, it weighs in at 3,408 pounds — a monster for an Ariel, a feather for an electric hypercar.
Four Electric Motors Provide Massive Power
You can configure the car with two motors where it makes 590 horses or with four so you get 1,180. Each inboard-mounted motor is built by Equipmake with integral inverters and a single-speed step-down gearbox, and makes 295 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque.
The four-motor car is also all-wheel drive. And thanks to the drive and torque vectoring system, Ariel expects 0-60 mph times to start at 2.09 seconds, and drop with improvements to under 2 seconds.
Electrical power is stored in a Cosworth 62.2kWH pack that’s heated and cooled for battery life, and to make sure it can keep on delivering maximum performance on the track.
Optional Turbine Generator
Ariel says 150 miles of range is available (on the generous WLTP cycle). But if that’s not enough, there’s a range-extending turbine motor. The optional Cosworth CatGen Micro Turbine shoots near-fire from a Batmobile-like exhaust, spins at a fixed 110,000 rpm, and generates 35 kW of electricity when it’s running.
The car’s electronics switch it on and off to top up the battery as needed, and the turbine weighs less than 110 pounds. Because it’s a turbine, it can run on many different fuels; Ariel calls emissions “negligible.”
Suspension Setup Includes Adaptive Dampers
While it wears carbon bodywork, the tub is still bonded aluminum. It has removable subframes should your track excursions end up causing some more serious damage when you suddenly find the limit just a hair shy of your current driving talent.
The suspension setup is from the same staffer who designed the latest Ariel Atom’s kit. The wishbones are aluminum, the sway bars are adjustable, and the car gets Bilstein adaptive dampers made exclusively for the Hipercar. AP Racing six-piston front calipers handle stopping when the massive regenerative braking capability is worn out.
Ariel Hipcar: Not Inexpensive!
Ariel wasn’t ready with pricing but did say that a Hipercar with four-wheel drive and the range extender will hit the road for under 1 million pounds sterling. That’s around $1.15 million, depending on the day you count your greenbacks.
The production Hipercar won’t arrive for another 28 months, but Ariel points out — rather cheekily — that that’s about the same as the current lead time for an Atom. Some orders have already been taken for this electric grin machine, and Ariel will be happy to take more.