David versus Goliath battles are always an enticing proposition, because they offer the chance to watch scrappy underdogs take on their bigger rivals. Evo has set up just such a battle with its latest drag race between the minimalist Ariel Atom 3.5 Supercharged (Ariel Atom 3 pictured below) and the plush Porsche Panamera Turbo S.

The two cars couldn't be more different. The Atom personifies Lotus founder Colin Chapman's well-known axiom: "Simplify, then add lightness." Most of the car doesn't even have a body; it's just an exposed frame with a 310 horsepower supercharged Honda four-cylinder mounted behind the driver. On the other side, there's the Panamera Turbo S. In the latest version, it packs 570 hp and 553 pound-feet from its 4.8-liter twin-turbo V8 and it features all-wheel drive. Of course, all of that comes with a significant weight penalty.

Off the line, the differences are even more apparent. The Atom doesn't have any of the Porsche's technological wizardry, so launching it challenges the driver to build the revs and let out the clutch just right. The car screams like a banshee as it goes, though. The Porsche is the exact opposite. Its launch control system lets the driver hold down the brake, get on the throttle and accelerate away in just the right way.

So which wins out in the standing kilometer (3,281 feet) – the tiny Ariel or the powerful Porsche? This might be a David and Goliath battle in terms of size, but it isn't immediately clear in terms of accelerative ability which is which. Scroll down to watch the video and find out how it all shakes out.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 27 Comments
      ScottT
      • 7 Months Ago
      I always wondered whether an Atom could beat a Panamera to 6/10's of a mile.
      Clipper44
      • 7 Months Ago
      This video is all about context.. forget about it being a stupid matchup. The Ariel is built for nothing but speed and handling - and obviously lacks any creature comforts... it -should- be faster. What was most surprising is seeing a 4-door car with ALL the creature comforts being right on the Atom's tail. The styling is what it is with the Porsche, but good god that thing is brutally fast... and this vid puts that into context way better than it dragging another car in its class.
      johnnyhedwardsjr
      • 7 Months Ago
      Wow, big ups to the Panamera for keeping up with the Atom. You have to be reminded that this is a S Class sized 4 door luxury car FIRST, yet it's performance rivals that of the Atom. That's amazing. Too bad that it isn't really a looker. I hope they do better in the design department next generation.
      Kevin Gregerson
      • 7 Months Ago
      Atom would be a lot more fun to drive. Porsche is quick, and its definitely the daily driver of the two. But considering the price difference you could buy a great daily driver and the atom or two to bring friends for the price of the porsche.
        Snowdog
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Kevin Gregerson
        Is the Atom even street legal. I was under the impression, you bring it to the track on a trailer. I think you need to jump through hoops and get kit car registration to get it on the street.
          Snowdog
          • 7 Months Ago
          @Snowdog
          http://www.leftlanenews.com/new-car-buying/ariel/atom-3/# "Now, given the fact that the Atom 3 is not a federalized car suitable for road driving in the U.S., the car is still quite a pricey "track toy," but compared to building and operating a comparable race car, the Atom can be justified by some to be quite the bargain." So track toy vs real car.
          r_dezi
          • 7 Months Ago
          @Snowdog
          In the UK you can buy new cars that look like track ready race cars that are DOT street legal.
          graphikzking
          • 7 Months Ago
          @Snowdog
          Now lets try a Campagna T-Rex :) That is street legal and loads of fun! Yes it's not as good as an Atom on the track BUT it can be driven 1000x more since it's street legal. Something about driving your track toy TO the track makes it much more fun. I've trailered bikes to the track and driven them. It gets them nice and warmed up before you get there :)
      Jeff Gilleran
      • 7 Months Ago
      Both amazing machines.
      Georg
      • 7 Months Ago
      would be interesting to see if the Atom still can beat the Panamera if both drive with a Codriver.... At the Panamera a Codriver would have next to no effect... at the Atom (300hp) it would ruin completely the power to weight ratio.. Atom 456kg/1003lbs curbeweight = 649hp/to Atom 456kg/1003lbs + driver 75kg/165lbs ~ 531kg/1170lbs = 564hp/to (as tested) Atom 456kg/1003lbs + driver/codriver 150kg/330lbs ~ 606kg/1336lbs = 495hp/to
      • 7 Months Ago
      [blocked]
      bullitt2605
      • 7 Months Ago
      If there is an uglier way to spend $200k than the Panamera then I am not sure I want to know what it is.
      W1llth3thr1ll
      • 7 Months Ago
      Open wheeled racer vs 4 door luxo cruiser in a half mile drag race. Both great automobiles but this "contest" is beyond stupid.
      Jaybird248
      • 7 Months Ago
      Thanks to Colin Chaplin-like power to weight thinking, England beats Germany again.
        Georg
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Jaybird248
        not that we haveno light cars in Germany with power.... This compare was as pointless as it would be comparing a RR to a Weineck Cobra, the English (German owned) luxury sedan weights close to 3to and the 780 cui 1200hp Weineck Cobra under 1to The Weineck Monster would eat the Atom alive in the straight 2.3s 0-62mph(100km/h) 4.9s 0-125mph(200km/h) and 10s 0-186mph (300km/h)... just to compare the Atom need 11.6s 0-100mph
      AutoVido
      • 7 Months Ago
      I bet the Atom seems a thousand times faster than the Porsche, and nothing feels better when driving than a few perfectly coordinated (manual) shifts.
        mazeroni
        • 7 Months Ago
        @AutoVido
        That and the Atom with its huge scoop and exposed framework are flat out cool. Even if it had a smaller motor, say the 1.8 from the Lotus Elise, you would still have a huge laugh. Too bad they didn't race without a helmet and windscreen on the Atom.
        juststudent
        • 7 Months Ago
        @AutoVido
        except when big fat sedan passing you at 1 mile DX
      tmx
      • 7 Months Ago
      @Clipper44, I fully agree, it is about how ridiculously fast that Porsche luxury ocean liner still is compared to that skeletal Atom power boat. Pound for pound fun is definitely in Porsches favour!
        superlightv12
        • 7 Months Ago
        @tmx
        So you think an electronically assisted luxo-barge would be more fun to drive than a bare bones track car????
        Steve Hatchel
        • 7 Months Ago
        @tmx
        I've been to several open track days in Southern California. I took every opportunity to beg ride-alongs in other cars when other run groups were out on the track. Large, expensive technological triumphs were the least fun. Yes they were capable but there was less drama, excitement, and challenge to the driver to excel. Older Porsche 911s and Corvette Z06s modified to an inch of their lives, now those were a blast.
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