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Off-Road Exoskeleton: Ariel Motor Launches Nomad 2

The Ariel Nomad 2 takes the original pared-down off-roader, and then gives it more power, a stronger chassis, and even more serious suspension options. Think of it like a 305-horse RWD UTV.
Ariel Nomad 2(Photo/Ariel Motor Company)
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There’s a new Nomad in town. U.K.-based Ariel Motor has just launched the second generation of its stripped-down off-roader, and just about the only thing it shares with the first one is its philosophy: Deliver serious bad road fun.

Ariel Motor Company first launched the Nomad in 2015. Like the company’s Atom sports car, it wasn’t much more than two seats, a tube frame, and an engine. The Nomad 2 isn’t much more than that, but Ariel says it is better than ever.

Ariel Nomad 2 Gets Stronger Chassis

Ariel Nomad 2
(Photo/Ariel Motor Company)

The Ariel Nomad 2 starts with a new tube chassis that the company built with larger diameter tubing. Bigger tubes make the car 60% stiffer than before, but more engineering analysis and lessons learned from the first one helped the company keep the weight down.

Ariel learned about more than just making the car stronger. The Nomad has a larger opening for getting in and out. The wheelbase is longer, too, so there’s more space once you’re inside.

Nomad 2 Snags Ford ST Engine

Ariel Nomad 2
(Photo/Ariel Motor Company)

But the Nomad 2 isn’t about cabin space and comfort; it’s about going fast on rough terrain. So, the old Honda engine has been replaced by a 2.3L turbo-four from Ford. It’s the basic engine used in the Euro Focus ST, but Ariel tweaked it to make 305 horsepower — and a frankly stupid 382 pound-feet of torque.

Why is that much power a little bit stupid? Because the Nomad 2 only weighs 1,576 pounds. What you had for breakfast is enough to make a difference to the power-to-weight ratio, which can hit 0-60 in 3.4 seconds. Ariel lets you turn it down, though. A switchable ECU lets you pick 260 horses or 302 instead, with lower torque at each setting.

Nomad 2 has a bigger radiator to handle more extreme temperatures. It has a rock-protected intercooler with roof-mount ducting and a dual filter system for the engine air intake. It holds more gas, too, and Ariel says it can now go 550 miles on a tank.

Bad, Badder, Baddest Suspension Offerings

Ariel Nomad 2
(Photo/Ariel Motor Company)

Ariel really shows off its suspension, which has even more travel than the first-generation model. K-Tech dampers with Eibach springs come standard, but Ohlins TTX dampers with external reservoirs and three-way adjustment are on the options list. If you’re planning some really extreme off-roading, Ariel offers a Bilstein full-race system.

The ultra-minimal Nomad doesn’t have many body panels, but most of the panels it does have are molded-in-color polyethylene. Ariel says they’re almost unbreakable. A few panels, like the cargo covers, have carbon fiber options instead of the standard polyethylene.

Short overhangs and almost no bodywork give the Nomad 2 impressive off-road numbers. It has a 48-degree approach angle and an amazing 64-degree departure angle. Ariel doesn’t quote a ground clearance figure, but looking at the photos and some tire size math suggests there’s a foot or more.

It also carries a digital dash with data logging and even comes with a backup camera.

Get It Muddy, Hose the Ariel Nomad 2 Out

Ariel Nomad 2
(Photo/Ariel Motor Company)

There isn’t much of a cockpit, but it is designed to be functional. There are drain holes in the floor so you can hose it out. The Nomad 2 also doesn’t have any fabric trim to hold water. Also, the seats are hard-shelled and based on the ones in the latest Atom. They can accept a crotch strap for really serious or race use.

At least for now, the Ariel Nomad 2 is not legal for the road in the U.S., though it is in most of the rest of the world. But that’s one of the Nomad’s best features: It doesn’t need roads.

This little buggy is designed to be happy on dirt, gravel, sand, and any terrain you can throw at it. It’s only two-wheel drive, but at least Ariel offers a winch in case you send it a little too hard.

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