► Ariel’s road-centered Nomad R
► Supercharging and road tyres
► Moreover a £20k sequential ‘box
Visualize the fury of a ghost train distilled into a highway-lawful automobile: the mechanical clunks and whines from carriages, screaming riders, groaning skeletons lurking spherical darkened corners, stunning pneumatic bursts, the adrenaline that tingles your toes and somersaults your belly as you plunge into compressions.
That’s how it feels to drive an Ariel Nomad R over this tumbling North Devon landscape, clinging on just as really hard as you are smiling. Include a disclaimer to the windscreen about dodgy tickers, poor backs and being pregnant, and a wearisome queue ahead of currently being seated, and this is an automotive Alton Towers.
Let us again up a bit…
The common Nomad buggy’s been about since 2015 as an all-terrain, all-climate different to Ariel’s unique observe-focused Atom, if nonetheless rear-wheel generate and with its engine guiding the driver. There is additional ground clearance, a right windscreen and wipers, and a structural net of steel tubing extends protectively up and about the occupants. The Nomad is Ariel exhibiting how a maker of sports vehicles should basically establish an SUV.
This R model requires people fundamentals, but it ditches the 2.4-litre motor from the US-spec Honda Civic (235bhp, better at torque than searing revs) and its six-velocity manual gearbox, and drops in the Atom 3.5 R powertrain. That includes an Eaton supercharger and demand-cooler added to the incendiary previous K20Z3 Civic Kind R engine, as very well as a 6-speed Sadev sequential gearbox, like you’d discover in a rally car or truck. It makes 335bhp and can rocket from zero to 62mph in a claimed 2.95sec.
Ariel has dedicated to making only 5 Nomad Rs, but exclusivity is not its justification for the around £40k leap above other Nomads. It is hardware. Henry Siebert-Saunders points out that the gearbox on your own adds £22.5k, then the cost-cooler program is extra than £6k, then it is a load of added hrs to assemble.
‘We absolutely are not just adding digits to the selling price tag,’ he says. ‘In reality it’s the opposite – we retain the cost as reasonably priced as possible, nevertheless I recognize which is a daring statement at this cost.’
So the Nomad R sits involving the Nomad and the Atom: a lot more rapid-road-concentrated than the frequent Nomad, significantly less track-capable than an Atom. Driving to Ariel’s base in Somerset this nagged at me.
So, it’s a lot less laser-focused than other Ariels?
From the seat you can pore more than the engineering detail like you might a Tamiya design car – seeing the steering shaft barrel-roll the place it satisfies the rack close to your toes, glancing forward to the gold Öhlins dampers that are adjustable for bump and rebound and inclined between unequal-size double-wishbone suspension. There’s space to spare, and a effectively-sorted, purposeful driving situation, although I’d want padding on the metallic by my ideal elbow.
Slide the brief-release steering wheel around the steering column’s splines, tighten the four-issue harness, push the rubbery start out button to wake the engine and then engage the clutch – since it is a levels of competition-spec auto ’box you nevertheless require to dip the clutch at a standstill, and you use it for upshifts in the course of mild driving. Gears are selected by a solitary paddle to the ideal of the steering wheel: pull to go up a gear, bat absent for down. I pull up and set off the variety of metallic-on-steel clank you could hear in a forge. This is standard, and shortly we’re off, generating our way north through Somerset.
Apart from the powertrain, much of the Nomad R is as per the typical Nomad, but the super off-roady Fox shocks are off the menu, for the reason that such suspension vacation is inappropriate in a highway-focused car. Instead you get specially tuned Bilstein shocks as typical, with the choice of Öhlins suspension, fitted to our check car together with Yokohama A052 tyres with pastry-sample tread and uprated Alcon brakes from the Atom V8.
So outfitted, the Nomad R has an altogether far more critical character than the Nomad Auto not long ago had on prolonged-time period loan: extra grip, less roll, and a journey which is firmer if still extremely substantially tolerable – you can see the front wheels parrying bumps that your bones really don’t come to feel, and the exaggerated roll oversteer I brace for at the initially pair of roundabouts does not materialise.
Let’s get driving
With this transmission, it does not notably love trundling by way of city or at the rear of website traffic on B-roadways. There’s sporting transmission whine, the accelerator flicks amongst on and off, and you’ll devote significantly time easing it via gears on the clutch right after acquiring the paddle as unresponsive as an over-bold tombstoner. The R strains impatiently, determined for velocity, so if you do substantially bumbling, you’re much better off with the more peaceful 2.4-litre motor and standard transmission.
On the motorway the Nomad R begins to settle. It rides comfortably, and the windscreen and silvers of weather defense give shockingly very good shelter from the wind. In reality, on the baking sizzling working day we take a look at it, it is invigorating to fall a hand warm from gripping the saucer-sized suede steering wheel out into a cooling breeze.
Efficiency does not so a great deal develop as explode, and the gearing is astonishing: the R will do 60mph in equally first and sixth, cannot stretch outside of 121mph, and it’ll pull 5000rpm at 80mph in sixth. Fall these varieties of ratios in any car and they’d perk up acceleration at typical driving speeds no conclude, but the Nomad weighs just 670kg and generates 335bhp, which means 500bhp-for every-tonne, identical to the rabid Ferrari 488 Pista.
When I give it a couple of squirts of throttle, the supercharger yelps with a significant-pitched shriek and the acceleration hits in volleys of violence, compressed into these kinds of staggering bursts of energy and battering via pneumatically activated gearshifts that I simply cannot thoroughly increase it for additional than a handful of seconds at a time. It’s as although you are two or 3 gears reduced than you in fact are, and so immediately does the R blitz toward the 7600rpm peak that the normal thrill of listening to a VTEC motor rise to a climax is gone, replaced by a primal hurry additional akin to bungee leaping. Yet the R cruises fortunately, and because everything’s loud, the speedy-spinning crank does not appear these an situation. I’m much happier here than I would be in an Atom.
This is a buggy with a dynamic target to make a athletics motor vehicle experience flabby, and it’s an Ariel which is more at home blatting about the gnarled imperfections of a British B-highway than an Atom. Ignore about that midway-household compromise I feared, simply because it feels like it could have been developed for this highway.
The unassisted steering is sneezy-immediate at 1.7 turns lock-to-lock, and the turning circle is very poor, so enjoy those restricted hairpins. When you actually pile it into the apex, there’s the kick-back again you need to hope from a technique this unfiltered. A lot more placing is just how obediently it follows your instructions, no make any difference the cambers, curves or imperfections. The suspension’s doing work really hard, ironing it all out, leaving you the unflustered very little spirit-stage bubble in the centre.
Though there’s no problem of the R’s general performance, it stops brief of emotion excessively rapid, even while there’s no balance regulate to catch talent shortfalls. It’s simply because the chassis is so well sorted and there are these kinds of deep reserves of mechanical grip that you can really use all the energy (at the very least in our bone-dry take a look at circumstances), and due to the fact the comparatively modest 243lb ft of torque is on the best shelf in a bag at 5500rpm. You never perform the Nomad R tough by incident.
Equally, there is no Ab muscles, but in a auto so mild, with this kind of powerful brakes (optional additional impressive stoppers, recall) and with tyres that bond to this sizzling, abrasive floor like chewing gum to the sole of your shoe, it appears unlikely you’ll lock them. When you do brake hard, the absence of mass and the reality so minor of it is found at the front suggests pounds transfer wields much less of a destabilising influence about the Nomad than you get in a ordinary efficiency vehicle. I would not especially want to, but you could make this equipment quicker nonetheless, and I imagine it’d cope pretty well.
Do far more miles and the dread of uncorking so significantly efficiency commences to raise. It is so driveable that you believe in you can perform the Nomad hard into corners. You can squeeze the throttle generously and early to revel in the grip readily available (and hear the supercharger whoop when the tyres just start out to fizz and the revs flick). Or brake late so the Nomad rotates fluidly as a result of the apex while continue to the gummy grip and unflustered body management maintain physics at bay with an outstretched palm. Then it is the next straight, the spit of a 40-millisecond upshift, the mechanical smack of a downshift, then leaning really hard on a brake pedal with its best weight, twisting the steering and throttle, much more throttle, griiiiiiin.
These miles, up on the moors, is where I genuinely click on with the Nomad R. Use it like this, or for sprints or hillclimbs or even trackdays, and you are going to struggle to experience far more reward from nearly anything else on 4 wheels. But before you make that contact, we have to have to discuss about the Nomad R’s £77k selling price.
Ariel Nomad R: verdict
I feared that the Nomad R may well be neither fish nor fowl, as properly as very expensive, but the group at Ariel have the most amazing way of turning barking mad concepts into brilliance. And as I unbuckle the harness and reluctantly hand the immobiliser critical back again, I ponder if this isn’t the Ariel I covet most of all.
Check out out our very long-expression examination of an Ariel Nomad