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Ariel unleashes its madcap Nomad buggy
Is Ariel the coolest carmaker on the planet? It’s increasingly looking that way. They only make one actual car, the Atom, but it’s a belter. And it’s going to be joined in the range by this, the Nomad.
OK, so it’s not a car in the traditional sense. Yet it’s still somehow recognisably an Ariel. And an outrageously fun-looking one, at that.
It’s described by Ariel as “a modern buggy designed for the rough and tough of the wild but just as home in the city”. The thought of commuting in a Nomad strikes us as a strangely irresistible one.
It’s shorter than a Renault Twingo, while at 670kg, it’s around 200kg heavier than an Atom, but it’s still little more than half the weight of a Ford Fiesta.
At its heart is a Honda-sourced 2.4-litre four-cylinder VTEC engine, here tuned to produce 235bhp at 7,200rpm, while serving up 221lb ft of torque, which is more than you’ll find in the bonkers-fast BAC Mono.
The result is a 0-60mph sprint of 3.4 seconds and a 136mph top speed. We can’t possibly describe the engine as well as Ariel puts it in its own bumf. “Be it crawling over rocks, executing that Scandinavian Flick at full throttle or just powering away from the lights, this engine delivers.” Has there ever been a more exciting sentence in car advertising material?
It’s a proper thing, the Nomad, with its bronze-welded steel tube chassis structure, outboard suspension - with big-brand craftsmanship from Bilstein, Eibach and Öhlins - and some brilliantly fat, knobbly tyres. There’s even a winch on the options list. The gearbox is a delightfully uncomplicated six-speed manual.
It looks like a remote-control buggy made real, and its 71° approach and 82° departure angles make a Land Rover Defender look small-time. Ariel talks up its track ability, and you can have a GPS data logger and MSA-approved fire extinguisher, but in truth it’s on rally stages and across deserts where the Nomad will really shine. Expect plenty of amateur Dakar entries to come off the back of its arrival…
So says Ariel’s Henry Siebert-Saunders, head of Nomad development: “Competition has always been an ambition for the Nomad since Day 1 of the project, and, like the Atom, we know from experience that it directly improves the breed. It’s early days, but I want to see Nomads competing in as many forms of motorsport as possible, from local club racing to international level.”
We’ve not wanted a go in anything quite as much since the 6x6 Mercedes G63 AMG. And happily this is considerably cheaper, starting at around £30,000. The ability to completely personalise it - wheels ranging from 15 to 18 inches are just the tip of the iceberg - could quickly bounce the price up, mind.
Over to you, then. Is there anyone cooler than Ariel right now?