Ariel is a very crazy company. Founded in 1902 as motorcycle manufacturer in Great Britain, the name was resurrected some years back to produce some of maddest street-legal track cars called the Atom. Think motorized scaffolding and you come close to what Ariel builds. The past couple of years have seen the company expand to building motorcycles. Now the company is now taking on the off-road buggy with the Nomad.
The Nomad follows the same minimalistic approach as the Atom with a visible tubular steel frame - that is laser-cut, CNC-machined, bronze-welded, and phosphate and powder-coated - , an engine mounted in the back, and a bare bones interior. Where the Nomad differs from the Atom is a fully adjustable wishbone suspension which uses long-travel Bilstein shocks and Eibach variable springs. This allows the Nomad to have up 12 inches of ground clearance, and a 71-degree approach and 82-degree departure angle.
Power will come from a Honda-supplied 2.4L four-cylinder that Ariel has tuned to produce 235 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque. This is paired up to a six-speed manual transmission and limited-slip differential. Tipping the scales at 1,477 pounds, Ariel claims a 0-60 MPH time of 3.4 seconds and a top speed of 125 MPH. A set of 9.5-inch rotors front and rear help keep the Nomad in check, while wheel choices range from 15 to 18 inches.
The frame will be covered by composite body panels to protect passengers in the completely waterproof interior.
Ariel says the Nomad will go into production for the UK this spring with a starting price tag of £27,500 before taxes (about $42,000). Ariel goes on to say they are in discussions with their North American partner, TMI Autotech to build the Nomad here.
Press Release is on Page 2
Ariel Motor Company announce the launch of the latest addition to the Ariel family – the Ariel Nomad.
A brother to the now iconic Ariel Atom, the Nomad shares the same Ariel family genes as well as the proven Atom recipe of light weight, high performance and ultra reliability. But where the Atom is to road and track, the Nomad is to road and off it.
Outboard suspension, raised ground clearance, long travel dampers, damage resistant body panels, washable interior and a host of options tailor the Nomad to go off road to places that an Atom and most car owners couldn't or wouldn't consider. Ariel's mission to put the fun back into driving takes another big and dirty step.
The Nomad will be shown for the first time at the UK International Autosport Show and will made in low volume, alongside the Atom, at the Ariel factory near Crewkerne in Somerset. To be manufactured in similar quantities to the Atom, at up to 100 cars per annum, production of the Nomad begins in Spring 2015 with orders being taken immediately.
For power the Nomad continues to build on the long standing relationship between Ariel and Honda, that began with the Ariel Atom and continued with the Ariel Ace motorcycle released in 2014. Featuring the 2.4 litre 4 cylinder K24 iVTEC engine the Nomad combines the ultra dependable, high volume drive train from Honda with Ariel's particular low volume production skills and bespoke build system. The result is a highly individual and exclusive vehicle but one with the reliability and provenance expected in today's market.
As with the Atom and the Ace, the unique way that Ariel build vehicles allows each Nomad to be exactly tailored to individual customer choice and personalised for their own particular use and taste. With an emphasis on the advantages of low volume production and the particular benefits that this gives the customer, the Nomad demonstrates the positive aspects of Ariel's size and approach. No two Nomads will be the same and each one will be made to customer specification - a quality that is only possible with Ariel's hand built production.
"There are things that we can do at low volume that you simply couldn't contemplate with mass production." said Simon Saunders, Director of Ariel. "We understand niche markets and we understand customers' demands completely. Everything we have learnt from the Atom has gone into Nomad and it shows. Nomad is Atom's tough brother and a continuation of our 'SERIOUS FUN' philosophy. If we can put a smile on people's faces, on road or off it, we have done our job".
From an ultra cool road car or a 21st Century take on the dune buggy, to a high performance, off road competition vehicle, the Nomad is the third Ariel to put the passion back into driving.
Designed by the in house Ariel team the concept of an 'off road Atom' has been nurtured for some time, fuelled by owners who have occasionally contemplated an 'Atom with knobbly tyres'. Although sharing a certain amount of proven Atom components, as well as its minimal design philosophy, the Nomad has been designed and engineered for the specific task of on and off road driving as well as having fun at all times. Tested on WRC stages, rock falls and off road race tracks, as well as proving grounds and race circuits, the Nomad has proved itself in all manner of environments and in varying climatic conditions.
With a longer term ambition to compete off road, Ariel are considering the possibilities of rallying the Nomad as well as looking at Rallycross and Autocross possibilities. Competing in the 2 wheel drive class of Rally Raids is also a long term ambition for the Nomad. Said Henry Siebert-Saunders (Henry S-S) of Ariel, heading up the Nomad development, "Competition has always been an ambition for the Nomad since Day 1 of the project and, like the Atom, we know from experience that it directly improves the breed. It's early days but I want to see Nomads competing in as many forms of motorsport as possible, from local club racing to international level."
Each Nomad will be handbuilt by one Ariel technician in an individual build bay, as with the Atom sports car and the Ace motorcycle, giving customers an even closer relationship with the creation of their own car. They can visit the factory to see their vehicle in build and discuss their Nomad directly with the technician building it, making this one of the most personal and bespoke vehicles in the world. Only when an Ariel technician is satisfied and has personally road tested it will the Nomad gain his personal build plate. Kelvin Marshall, chief technician on the Nomad prototype build and test cars, said, "We get to know our customers personally and we want everything to be perfect for them. You put a lot of yourself into every Ariel you build so it's a lot more than just building a car for an unknown person – it's like gaining another member of the family."
Options allow customers to specify their Nomad exactly so that it becomes their Nomad and theirs alone. This tailor made aspect of Ariel is unique at this end of the automotive industry and allows Ariel customers to personalise their Nomad for their particular use. Different tyres, wheels, competition parts, engine tuning and suspension components are available focussed to off road and on road performance, as well as windscreen, underbody protection, lamps, bumper bars and winches. Full weather equipment for winter and off road conditions will also be available.
As with other Ariels, the Nomad is also upgradeable over a period of time. Owners of Nomads can return their vehicles to the factory where upgrades, modifications and new options can be fitted to change it for different uses or to modify the specification at any time. Like altering a tailor made suit this is a system that has been incredibly effective with the Atom, where owners have kept their cars for many years changing them as their priorities or interests alter.
Performance of the Nomad has been aimed at a mix of road and off road performance with inlet and outlet manifolds tuned for power and torque combined with fuelling and mapping via a Hondata ECU. Performance figures are similar to a standard Atom but necessarily restricted by specification and tyre choice. 0-60 takes around 3.5 seconds and a top speed of 136mph are standard for the car.
Central to the Nomad is the recognisable Ariel perimeter space frame, again with form following function and an aesthetic derived from the engineering demands of the vehicle. Now an Ariel signature, the multi diameter structural steel chassis is created with laser cut components and CNC formed tubes which are bronze welded by hand. This mixture of modern technology with British craftsmanship is pivotal to Ariel's philosophy and gives a quality only achievable in low volume production. With built in roll over protection the chassis offers a full safety cage for very high levels of occupant safety as well as enormous structural rigidity. Phosphated and powder coated to customer choice of colour the Nomad chassis gives high levels of visibility off road as well as retaining the individual Ariel aesthetic.
Engine and Transmission
The Nomad retains Honda power, so successfully used in the Ariel Atom and more recently the Ariel Ace motorbike. Chosen for its power, torque , flexibility and advanced technology the 2.4 litre 4 cylinder unit used in the Nomad uses the same architecture as the Honda Type R found in the Atom, but with performance characteristics highly suitable for use in an off road vehicle. With the longer stroke, Honda iVTEC system plus tuned Ariel inlet and exhaust systems the engine gives 235bhp and 300 Nm of torque - as much as a supercharged Atom. Driving through a Honda 6 speed gearbox with Limited Slip Differential the Nomad has passenger car driveability on road but massive ability off road. Although only two wheel drive, the light weight of the Nomad at 670 kilos allows it to outperform 4 wheel drive vehicles in many situations as well as limiting mechanical complexity. Further options of different differentials are available according to the use the Nomad is put to.
Ariel's knowledge and experience of making lightweight vehicles handle in on and off road environments as well as competition has been used to give the Nomad compliance on the road whilst maintaining wheel contact and suspension travel off it in many varying conditions. Double unequal length and adjustable wishbones are mounted on high-angle metalastic rubber bushes with high grade outer ball joints, giving road comfort and meeting strength requirements for off road conditions.
The Nomad features outboard aluminium dampers, in contrast to the inboard units on the Atom, to give the suspension travel and robustness required, Developed in conjunction with Bilstein, known for their skill in lightweight vehicle suspension, the low friction, monotube design has been valved to give road comfort but also off road and on track performance. Complemented by Eibach variable and two piece springs, which can specified to suit customer preferences, the visible suspension is another Ariel trademark giving functional beauty and easy access for adjustment.
Dependant on tyre and wheel specification the Nomad has over 300mm (12") of ground clearance, a front approach angle of 71 degrees and departure angle of 82 degrees.
Designed for very high speed off road driving as well as low speed crawling and normal road driving, the suspension has various options to suit whatever purpose the Nomad is being used for. Customers have the option of different dampers and springs, tailored specifically for the Nomad and tuned for the varying conditions it will be used in.
Brakes, Tyres and Wheels
Braking is via an adjustable front/rear bias system featuring a choice of two piston and four piston calipers. Ariel's long association with Alcon Components continues with the Nomad which features ventilated discs and light alloy calipers to minimise unsprung weight. Proven repeatedly on track and performance challenges the brakes offer ultimate stopping capability and driver control. All Nomads feature Goodridge stainless braided hose as standard equipment and for off road plus competition use there is the option of an in line hydraulic handbrake.
To give ultimate performance the Nomad is available with a wide range of Yokohama tyres, suited to the particular use or conditions. Choices of high speed road, All Terrain and full Mud Terrain right through to Gravel/Forest Rally and Sand/Paddle tyres are all available with rims in 15" and 18" to suit, in both alloy for both off/on road use and magnesium for road use only.
Bodywork is a mixture of materials carefully selected for use on the Nomad and its driving environment, both on and off road. Contactable body components, including front end, rear covers and mudguards are rotationally moulded in self coloured, toughened polyethylene plastic - the same process and material used to make road cones and boat fenders. The ultra tough material gives outstanding fit and finish but is virtually unbreakable, flexing and springing back rather than breaking. Other components are self coloured composite, plus carbon fibre option, with Twintex composite for light weight and protection.
The interior, with individual lightweight seats is designed to be simple and completely weatherproof so that the Nomad can be driven in any conditions and then hosed out afterwards. The windscreen option with a twin wiper system gives forward protection whilst a full weather equipment option completes the package for use in off road or bad weather conditions, covering sides, rear and roof. "It's a bit of a moment for us," said Henry S-S, "it will be the first Ariel that has a roof and doors! Although they are zippable roll up units as weight and simplicity was of particular importance."
Instrumentation is via a Race Technologies LCD dash, also found on the Atom. The instruments feature programmable gearshift lights plus multi screen information that can be set up and scrolled through by the driver. A further option is the addition of a data logger that can show real time performance as well as log to an in built Compact Flash card.
Hella halogen headlamps and LED indicator, side and tail lamps form part of the Nomad road pack with additional spotlamps and LED markers, for off road use, available as options. All Nomads can be road registered in the UK and are available in left and right hand drive for export. Discussions are underway with North American Licensees, TMI Autotech, to build the Nomad in the USA.
Nomad prices will start at around £27,500 in the UK plus VAT, with a comprehensive option list to allow each car to be tailored to order.