Ariel Nomad 2: second-gen on-road / off-road hilarity machine breaks cover | CAR Magazine

Ariel Nomad 2: second-gen on-road / off-road hilarity machine breaks cover

Published: 09 July 2024 Updated: 10 July 2024

► All-new Ariel Nomad 2 revealed
► Tougher, faster, sharper; still bonkers
► Shares just three parts with the original

So, you’ve got a 911 Dakar – that’s cute; Ariel has developed a second-generation Nomad, and it would appear to take the whole lifestyle all-roader thing to an entirely different level. Officially labelled the Ariel Nomad 2, the extent to which this has been re-engineered compared with the original is rather extraordinary.

In fact, we found ourselves chuckling the whole way through the official literature as yet another juicy detail was revealed. They’ve done what? Of course it’s got that now. And, why wouldn’t you want one of those options? Looking somewhat like a Tonka Toy version of the Nomad 1, the Nomad 2 shows every sign of being one of those brilliantly British blends of madness and genius.

Where do we start?

Let’s go for the chassis – which is now formed from larger tubes, powder-coated in the colour of your choice, and 60 per cent more torsionally rigid than the original. The wheelbase is longer, the openings to get in and out are larger, and the whole thing functions as a roll cage to which various accessories can be bolted.

These include mountings for a couple of bikes, a spare wheel or waterproof luggage; the inevitable light bar; and a pair of removeable illuminated whips for more serious off-road adventures.

Ariel Nomad 2 - rear, driving on-road, with luggage

The scoop on the roof feeds air to the engine and the intercooler – separately – and has been optimised using computational fluid dynamics. Filtration is similarly dialled to the max avoid engine contamination; there’s even a ‘vacuation’ system to remove moisture and dirt, and the option of WRC-spec filtration material.

The panels you can see are – like the original – made from the same material as traffic cones. Which is the equivalent of saying they’re basically indestructible. Option the Warn Axon winch and you get a special bumper and matching rear bar, plus additional underbody protection.

It might not look like it, but the whole car has been aerodynamically considered as well.

What about the engine and suspension?

The Nomad 2 uses an Ariel-tuned version of the 2.3-litre turbo engine that’s more familiarly found in the Ford Focus ST. This comes with a choice of three maps that can be adjusted on the fly. Stage one is 260bhp / 284lb ft, stage two is 302bhp with 333lb ft, while stage 3 releases the full 305bhp and 382lb ft – the last doesn’t sound like much of a upgrade over the middle setting, but Ariel says torque is ‘considerably’ increased right across the rev range.

Ariel Nomad 2 - front, driving on-road

With a kerbweight of just 715kg, the result is 0-60mph in 3.4sec and 134mph – though Ariel doesn’t say if those figures are with the standard six-speed manual or the optional paddle-actuated six-speed Quaife sequential. Amusingly, you can also option the Nomad 2 with a hydraulic handbrake; Ariel wryly says this is for off-road use only.

Speaking of going off-road, the Nomad 2 runs unequal length double wishbone suspension and outboard coilovers. It has more travel than before, and a set of approach and departure angles many dedicated off-roaders can only dream of: 48 and 64 degrees, respectively.

Ariel Nomad 2 - off-road angles

The longer wheelbase (+48mm) and wider track (+50mm), together with revised geometry that includes anti-squat and anti-dive considerations, promises an even more rounded driving experience than before – though perhaps also less of the lurid angles that looked so good in the previous photography. Grip, especially off-road, is said to be enhanced, and the steering, just two turns lock-to-lock, claims improved precision and communication thanks in part to castor adjustments.

Because of course it does, Ariel offers three different choices of spring and damper. Standard are specially made K-Tech aluminium dampers with Eibach dual-rate springs. Three-way adjustable Ohlins TTX with remote reservoirs are next-up, with two-stage full-race Bilsteins offered for hardcore off-road enthusiasts.

Ariel Nomad 2 - interior, steering wheel and dashboard

Similarly, there are three wheel options: standard 16s, forged 18s and beadlock 16s for the really rough stuff. Tyre choice ranges from everyday to extreme off-road to trackday specials – ‘covering the broad spectrum of Nomad 2 use scenarios’ says Ariel.

The brakes are 40 per cent bigger, offer the option of front-rear bias adjustment from inside the cockpit and have ABS calibrated for off-road use, as is the cockpit-controlled launch and traction control system. Ariel uses stainless steel braided lines for the brakes and the clutch as standard.

What else do we need to know?

Well, the price – which starts at £67,992 including VAT. But there are over 100 options, so no two of these are likely to be identical. Each is built from the ground-up by a single technician, and Ariels typically hold their value incredibly well, so think of it not as expensive but an investment.

The interior is a hose-out affair with no material trimming at all, and the Nomad 2 comes with a full data-logging system as well as a specially built TFT instrument cluster by AIM Technologies. There’s also a reversing camera; don’t laugh – if you’ve done the harnesses up properly, as you really should in one of these, you won’t be able to turn around to look over your shoulder. Besides, the engine intake and other gubbins are immediately behind you.

Ariel Nomad 2 - side, driving off-road

Final word goes to Ariel director, Simon Saunders: ‘Making lightweight cars handle compliantly and comfortably on the road is an artform as suspension loads and forces are so low. Making the same car capable of reliably and repeatedly jumping the crest of an off-road hill at more than 100mph takes this to another level. If you then add in loose surfaces, mud, water, and perhaps some ice, you’ll appreciate the extremes that we have dealt with.

‘The Nomad 2 is, even to us, a truly remarkable car.’

Having spent several month living with a first-generation Nomad long-termer, you know what? We believe him…

The all-new Ariel Nomad 2 makes its public debut at the 2024 Goodwood Festival of Speed on Thursday 11 July.

By CJ Hubbard

Head of the Bauer Digital Automotive Hub and former Associate Editor of CAR. Road tester, organiser, reporter and professional enthusiast, putting the driver first