The Ariel Nomad Is Back With 305bhp Of Ford Turbo Power

The ultimate automotive toy gets an overhaul, and it’s nearly all-new
Ariel Nomad 2 - side
Ariel Nomad 2 - side

There’s no logical reason for the Ariel Nomad to exist, but boy are we glad it does. In a world where cars across the board have gotten very serious, this mashup of Atom and dune buggy has been designed for no purpose other than stupid-grin-on-your-face fun.

In pursuit of some more of that fun, the Nomad’s just received a second generation, called – get this – the Nomad 2. No, seriously – it may not look it, but nearly all of this car’s different from the old version. Chief among those changes is the engine. Out goes the old car’s Honda K-series unit, and in its place sits a 2.3-litre Ford EcoBoost turbo four-pot – the same one you’ll find in the soon-to-be-dead Focus ST.

Ariel Nomad 2 - front, road
Ariel Nomad 2 - front, road

Driving the rear wheels through a standard six-speed manual or optional six-speed sequential ’box with paddles, that engine’s fitted with a three-stage switchable ECU that allows power to be turned up or down. In its spiciest setting, it’s making 305bhp and 382lb ft of torque, and given that it doesn’t really have any bodywork, the Nomad 2 weighs just 715kg. The result is 0-62mph in 3.4 seconds and a 134mph top speed.

The tubular chassis is all new, and over 60 per cent stiffer than the old car. The scant bodywork that is draped over it is made of either strengthened polyethylene or composite, while if you’re planning on running around somewhere particularly sunny or rainy, you can spec a ‘bikini roof cover’. The whole car is longer and wider than before and has bigger side apertures for a slightly less embarrassingly inelegant entry and exit procedure.

Ariel Nomad 2 - front, off-road
Ariel Nomad 2 - front, off-road

It may just look like a lot of tubes, but there are some genuine aerodynamics at play here. That visor on top of the windscreen acts as just that – a sun visor – but it also features fins to channel cold air into the big snorkel intake, which in turn feeds it to the engine and intercooler.

Naturally, it’s underneath where all the really fun stuff’s happening. Completely overhauled, longer-travel suspension has been tuned to incorporate anti-squat and dive measures, keeping everything more level and controlled under hard acceleration and braking.

Ariel Nomad 2 - interior
Ariel Nomad 2 - interior

As standard, it gets bespoke K-Tech dampers with dual-rate Eibach springs, but that’s only the beginning of the available suspension trickery. At the top of the tree are full off-road race-spec two-stage Bilstein dampers with remote reservoirs.

The braking system is enlarged by 40 per cent over the old car, and there’s some fun to be had here too: there’s the option of both an on-the-fly adjuster for brake bias and a full rally-style hydraulic handbrake, because really, what’s the Nomad for if not massive skids? Three different wheel options can be combined with tyres ranging from full off-road items to track day-friendly ones.

Ariel Nomad 2 - rear
Ariel Nomad 2 - rear

The inside (what there is of it) gets new TFT instruments, and even has a backup camera – quite possibly the only car with such a thing that’s also designed explicitly to be hosed out.

The Nomad 2 costs from £67,992 – a lot for a toy, but just consider the depth of engineering in this thing. That’s only the beginning – Ariel offers over 100 options, so there’s potential to spend a lot more.

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