When talking about fun off-road, most people think about big 4x4s or maybe lifted Jeeps, but there’s a class of off-roading vehicles out there that while not seen very often are tons of fun and look pretty cool, too. The idea of an off-road buggy is far from new, and dune buggies have been around for quite some time, but the new Ariel Nomad is as close to a dune buggy as a trophy truck is to a Toyota Hilux.
If the name Ariel sounds familiar, it’s probably because of the company’s most well known offering, the Ariel Atom. This speed demon with a skeletal structure weighs nearly nothing, and is best described as a supercar minus all the pesky body panels. Ariel’s latest…thing…is the Nomad. The Nomad uses a ladder frame chassis similar to the one in the Atom, but beefier. Every Ariel frame is bronze-welded and amounts to the world’s most integrated roll cage. The Nomad uses additional reinforcements throughout the “body” of the buggy, making it as tough off the road as any truck you can think of.
Starting with the engine, the Nomad uses a 2.4l Honda 4-cylinder i-VTEC power plant with chain timing DOHC. The engine is rear-mounted for space and weight distribution concerns. This is good for 235 hp at 7200 RPM, and while that may not seem like an enormous number, remember that the Nomad weighs approximately nothing.
Mated to the engine is a 6-speed close ratio gearbox with an aluminum alloy casing and a hydraulic clutch. Feeding the engine is an indirect multi-port grouped fuel injection system. There’s twin fuel filters between the 13 gallon fuel tank and the engine to assure nothing bad gets passed from the tank to the engine, and for the spark you’ll find an electronic coil-over plug ignition system tied to a Hondata engine management system.
The chassis is where the Nomad really shines though. As mentioned above, every frame is bronze welded by hand, which are works of art in of themselves. The frame is then powder coated and aluminum bulkheads are attached.
As for suspension, the Nomad has double unequal length TIG welded fabricated wishbones, lightweight fabricated uprights, outboard Bilstein dampers, and alloy steel Eibach coil springs, all of these in both the front and rear. There’s a rack and pinion steering system installed into every Nomad that the buyer can choose to be left or right hand drive.
Getting all this speed stopped can be tricky, but the Nomad has it covered. Each wheel has a 240mm ventilated disc that slow the Nomad down thanks to twin master cylinders that are fully adjustable for front/rear bias. There’s even a parking brake installed.
Inside the Nomad
Not that there’s much difference between the interior and exterior, but the Nomad has two individual seats inside that are composite woven cloth with 5 position adjustment. Each seat has a E approved 4-point quick release full racing harness too, for obvious reasons.
There’s no stereo, no video infotainment system, and barely a dash at all. Even with a small dash, you still get all the gauges and warning lights, including and LCD digital display, speedometer, tachometer, water, fuel, odometer, trip as well as the standard brake, oil, and beam indicators.
So what does all this mean for performance? Well, the Ariel Nomad can get from 0-60 mph in just 3.4 seconds, with the 0-100 mph time only 8.7 seconds. The Nomad has a limited top speed of 125 MPH. Could it go faster without a limiter? Possibly. Do you want to go faster than that off-road in a skeleton frame? Probably not.
The Ariel Nomad is small, fast, and possibly the most fun you’ll ever have off road. The Nomad will cost you around $46,500 USD, but can only be ordered from Ariel UK. If you’re looking for off-road fun and are a little bit crazy, then the Nomad is the perfect ride for you.