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Sunday, 31 May 2015

Ariel Nomad Appreciation Post


I've written about the Ariel Nomad already - see here - but that was just the early info. Now we (read: other people) have videos of it. That's excuse enough to post about it again, because it's cooler than you... AND your car. Yeah, I said it. What are you gonna do about it, eh? Eh? Nuthin', that's what. Know why? 'Cause all you can do about it is be less cool than the Ariel Nomad. So there.

Sidenote: I don't know what Wye Fruit is but it is now awesome because it has been near an Ariel Nomad
A quick refresher for anyone who didn't click the link in the first sentence; one day Ariel decided to lift up one of their face-tearing Atom track toys and put big knobbly tyres on it for a laugh. The result was so fun they decided to turn it into a whole new model, and the Nomad is the result. This may seem like a strange direction for a rival to the likes of Caterham, BAC or Radical to take, but the people at the heart of Ariel live in the Somerset countryside and love motocross, mountain biking and Land Rover Defenders, so a life-size Tamiya buggy is actually right up their (muddy) street. Despite having the same exoskeleton aesthetic as the Atom, the only part that carries over to the Nomad is the dashboard. The chassis is completely new, the Honda 'K24' engine from a US-market Civic Si is a different lump to the Atom's supercharged 'K20Z4,' the suspension is outboard rather than partially nestling inside the chassis, and so on and so forth.

The naturally aspirated 2.4-litre engine is revvy, but tuned by Ariel for strong mid-range to make it better off road, so while it makes its maximum 235bhp at a heady 7200rpm, the peak torque of 221 lb/ft (300NM) - which matches that of the 2.0-litre Supercharged Atom - is found at a more reasonable 4300rpm. Because this is a proper no-bullshit car, the only gearbox you can have is a 6-speed manual with a clutch pedal. Deal with it. That said, you get a lot more choice with other important aspects of the car; there are four different sets of suspension components to choose from, depending on the size of the stuff you want to drive over. Road, mud, sand, rocks, snow, whatever. You also get to choose between 15" or 18" wheels with all-terrain road tyres, or snazzy body-coloured "rally wheels" with HUGE knobbly tyres (as pictured above) and those wheels can be shod in specialist tyres for varying terrains as well if you so choose. Regardless of suspension/wheel/tyre combo, you can also fit it with a bullbar and winch! And flags with LED lights at the top! And spot lights! And the windscreen is optional!

Spec lightly and the weight is a scant 670kg, or about as much as an Austin Mini, although it can climb to 750kg with serious options like heavy-duty suspension, full under-body protection and so on. It's rear-wheel-drive only, but with 35:65 weight distribution and a limited-slip differential, there's plenty of traction to punt such little weight up a grassy hill. Alternatively, you can spec it for track use, with FIA-approved harnesses and battery cut-off and such like, along with sports tarmac tyres. Whatever driving you fancy, the Nomad can be built for it. As long as you don't fancy warm, comfortable wafting around. Buy a Citroën for that. Oh, and your only choice of stereo is nature itself, accompanied by loud tyre roar above 50mph and a peppy four-cylinder growl as you chase the red line. On that note, 0-60mph is dispatched in just 3.4 seconds, 0-100mph comes and goes in 8.7 seconds and the top speed is a probably-very blustery 125mph, or 134mph on proper road tyres. I don't fancy proving either top speed without the optional windscreen...

The suspension can travel up to 250mm, about the same as a full-on WRC car, but there are two sets of Eibach coil springs per wheel, with soft, short ones for lumps and bumps on the road, and longer, harder ones for doing MAD JUMPS off SICK RAMPS when you feel like being awesome and doing awesome stuff. This double-action set-up combined with adjustable Bilstein dampers apparently allows it to ride well on road, with the extra lean giving you an even clearer idea of where that minimal weight is being thrown around. Yet reviewers say it steers just as sharply and accurately as an Atom. Win-win!!


It's difficult to comprehend this car being any cooler. The only thing Ariel can think of is to add a supercharged version to the range, which will be fantastic, but the Nomad is every 5-year-old's fantasy made life size. Comprising of little more than a climbing frame, body panels at each end made of the same hard-as-hell plastic as traffic cones and a growly yet reliable engine, it has an approachably neutral facial expression to make it universally appealing, an undeniable sense of adventure about it and the freedom to be customised to suit any kind of fun driving you can think of, be it B-road blasting, rally stages or just driving over stuff. Or even doing mad jumps. Go play on their configurator. You'll love it. Prices start at £33,000. It's worth it. I want it. You want it. Children want it. The child inside you wants it and will be endlessly thrilled if you buy it. Let us be thankful for its existence.




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