The Ariel Nomad R would not have the rubber or the wheel journey to go off-road. You’d shortly get beached on a small mound of earth, or the Yokohama Advan A052 observe day tyres would spin hopelessly on the moist grass or mud. Otherwise you’d merely rattle your self mindless as you skipped and crashed alongside the uneven terrain. The usual Nomad with its knobbly tyres, huge suspension journey and squishy rally-raid dampers is a born off-roader, however not this new mannequin.
As a substitute, the R is a Nomad for the highway and racetrack. That in all probability undermines your entire level of the Nomad, not least as a result of in the Atom, Ariel already builds some of the thrilling highway and observe vehicles cash can purchase. So, what is the want for this one? Within the phrases of Ariel’s Tom Siebert, “We simply wished to do one thing a bit bonkers”.
Two issues. First, that is fairly a press release from an organization that made its identify constructing two-seat sports activities vehicles that don’t have any bodywork – not to mention a roof – and which aren’t way more than a tangle of scaffolding poles welded along with a ferociously highly effective engine hung off the again. Second, solely within the fully unhinged world of Ariel is that purpose sufficient to place a brand new mannequin into manufacturing. You possibly can’t actually argue, are you able to?
With solely 5 set to be constructed, ‘manufacturing’ won’t be the best phrase. These Nomad Rs will probably be bought to pals of Ariel, to present clients who merely should have the total set. You sense the advertising and marketing technique for this automotive concerned little greater than Tom sending WhatsApp messages to a handful of mates, saying one thing alongside the strains of, ‘This factor is barmy, I will put your identify down for one! [exploding head emoji]’.
So, what precisely is it? The present Nomad chassis, taller than that of the Atom because of its overhead bars that do not fairly qualify as a roof, is unchanged. However you get road-biased suspension (the one you see right here is fitted with non-compulsory Ohlins dampers) plus semi-slick tyres and a very completely different powertrain, one higher suited to screaming away from corners than hammering by means of mud and gravel.
Whereas essentially the most primary Nomad makes use of a 2.4-litre naturally-aspirated Honda engine rated at round 240hp and the higher-spec mannequin a supercharged model of that very same unit with near 300hp, the Nomad R makes use of a smaller 2.0-litre motor, nonetheless borrowed from Honda and supercharged to elevate energy to 340hp. Gone too is the Nomad’s six-speed guide gearbox, as a replacement a six-speed Sadev sequential with an LSD and a traditional clutch pedal, which you employ just for getting the automotive rolling and bringing it to a halt. There is a small carbon fibre paddle behind the steering wheel that you simply flick and push away utilizing your proper hand to shift up and down the gears.
As on a Nomad, you additionally get a very well built-in windscreen – heated and with wipers and a wash perform – which implies you do not essentially should put on a helmet to drive the automotive. Though provided that we selected a mid-December day when temperatures have been forecast to rise no greater than 2 levels Celsius to check the Nomad R, I opted to put on my Arai. Full thermal underwear, too.
Assume tarmac rally automotive. To that finish, the gearing is so brief the Nomad R tops out at simply 121mph. Ariel reckons its consumers not care about high pace. They get way more of a kick out of the sort of punchy acceleration you solely get from stacking the ratios very tightly collectively. Gearshifts flash by in one-twentieth of a second and there is an auto blip on the way in which down. You needn’t elevate off the throttle pedal when altering up. Weighing lower than 700kg, the Nomad R is fearsomely accelerative – Ariel says it will crack 60mph inside three seconds.
Whether or not you drop your self in from above or clamber in from the facet, you end up cupped within the moulded plastic seat with the wheel shut and your legs outstretched. There isn’t any actual climate safety except for the windscreen, though two clear plastic panels run from the midpoint of the chassis to the entrance, retaining the worst of the wind and rain away out of your trousers. A four-point harness retains you pinned towards that arduous plastic moulding, which solely turns into unyielding after a number of hours.
The clutch pedal is unexpectedly gentle and the unassisted steering straightforward when you’re on the transfer. The electronically-controlled pneumatic shifter would not like half-hearted tried gear modifications – provided that you are exhausting on the throttle will it allow an upshift, at which level you hear a hiss-thunk from over your shoulder and really feel the brand new ratio bang in.
On a bitterly chilly day, the roads lined in a dew that will not elevate earlier than the following one comes down, plus tyres that keep exhausting and frigid, the entire lack of driver aids focuses the thoughts. There is no ABS, not to mention something that may stop you from spinning backwards by means of a hedgerow. And that may be an issue have been this not an intensely communicative automotive. You choose up delicate modifications within the stress met by the ball of your foot towards the brake pedal, really feel how a lot traction there may be by means of the throttle and sense the grip throughout the entrance axle by means of the steering wheel because it wriggles and writhes in your fingers, all 4 limbs flooded with info. Even so, in circumstances like these we had earlier this month, you drive the Nomad R alongside a winding moorland highway like a soft-bellied white-collar felony edging by means of the canteen at HMP Belmarsh – nervous and uptight, hyper-alert to the menace from all corners.
The linear, predictable manner wherein the supercharged engine delivers its energy and torque comes as a blessing. The clumsy torque dump you’d get from a turbo engine would make the Nomad R an actual handful, the rear tyres spinning hopelessly on the slightest provocation. As it’s, you recognize exactly how a lot throttle you’ll be able to chuck on the rear axle, trusting that ought to it break free, it will achieve this progressively. Superchargers and light-weight vehicles are a heavenly mixture, for there’s actual tractability and a muscularity by means of the mid-range, however nonetheless the sort of zingy high finish that is value chasing gear after gear.
The ratios are so tightly stacked you pull on that little paddle prefer it’s spitting out pound cash. The automotive surges forwards, soundtrack rising to a high-pitched, screaming crescendo that is virtually insufferable with out the exhausting shell and mushy padding of a helmet between your eardrums and the wailing supercharger. On the few drier patches of asphalt obtainable, I may lean on the Nomad R slightly tougher, feeling it roll in corners, dive underneath braking and pitch when accelerating. It is a finely-balanced machine with limits that you simply dance round, quite than again away from. It excites, thrills and frightens in equal measure.
There’s an edginess to the journey on bumpy sections of highway that neither the common Nomad nor the Atom exhibit. It is evidently set-up for very clean tarmac, be it public freeway or racetrack, though the adjustable dampers would offer you some freedom to tweak and hone the journey to your tastes. The actual fact is the decrease, lighter Atom is the higher highway automotive and a primary Nomad the extra compelling plaything, given its off-road credentials. As a substitute, consider it this fashion: what sort of Ariel assortment can be full with out essentially the most bonkers automotive it builds proper now?
SPECIFICATION | ARIEL NOMAD R
Engine: 1,998cc, four-cylinder supercharged
Transmission: Six-speed sequential, rear-wheel drive
Energy (hp): 340@7,600rpm
Torque (lb ft): 243@5,500rpm
0-62mph: 2.9 seconds
High pace: 121mph customary gearing, 136mph non-compulsory gearing