The new Ariel Nomad, the latest in ‘big boys’ toys’ for off-road fun, will set you back upwards of $NZ55,000 – that’s if you can get one of the ‘21st century dune buggies.’
The British company is making only 100 a year, each one weighing around 670kg and tailor-made from start to finish by a single technician.
The Nomad has already been nicknamed the ‘off-road Atom’ after the road-legal flyer that earned Ariel its reputation. It comes after the launch last year of the Ariel ‘Ace’ motorcycle and gets it first public outing at this month’s UK International Autosport Show.
The company says its ‘built to order’ programme means no two Nomads will necessarily be the same. “There are things that we can do at low volume that you simply couldn’t contemplate with mass production,” said Ariel director Simon Saunders.“Everything we have learned from the Atom has gone into Nomad and it shows.”
Like the Atom, the Nomad is built around a laser-cut, tubular steel frame which incorporates a safety cage. The two-seat cockpit can be wrapped in plastic panels for waterproofing. The dashboard is an LCD layout with programmable shift lights; headlights are Hella halogen units.
A fully adjustable wishbone suspension uses long-travel Bilstein shock absorbers and Eibach variable springs, giving the Nomad up to 30cm of ground clearance and a 71-degree approach and 82-degree departure angle.
Power comes from a 2.4-litre four-cylinder Honda iVTEC engine generating 175kW/300Nm and driving the rear wheels via a six-speed gearbox with an hydraulic clutch and limited-slip differential. Ariel claims a 0-100km/h time of 3.4 seconds and a top speed of 200km/h.
Helping to keep the power under control are 240mm disc brakes, adjustable for front/rear balance in wheel options ranging from 15 to 18 inches and shod with a choice of Yokohama tyres.
Nomad is rear-drive only, although Ariel says its power-to-weight ratio allows it to outperform all-wheel-drive vehicles in many situations. Optional differentials are available, it says, although it opts for rear-drive because of mechanical simplicity.
The company is looking at competing in rallycross events in the build-up to endurance races like the 2WD class of Rally Raids. Said Ariel executive Henry Siebert-Saunders: “Competition has always been an ambition for the Nomad since day one of the project. It’s early days but I want to see Nomads competing in as many forms of motorsport as possible.”