This has been a pretty good year for cars. You’ll know that if you’ve read any of the other blogs posted here by my colleagues: it has been easy for each one of us to pick a ‘best’ car of 2015, and make a convincing case for it.
Subjectively, objectively, or by pure blind prejudice, it’s as easy to make a case for the Mazda MX-5 or Volvo XC90 as it is for the Ferrari 488 Spider, Porsche 911 GT3 RS or McLaren 570S. All are, ultimately, entirely fit for the purpose they were designed for. And that’s how Autocar rates cars: does it do what it’s supposed to do? Then it gets top marks.
The Ariel Nomad, then. What, exactly, is it meant to do? Ariel defines the car, of a fashion, as the Atom’s grubbier, dirtier brother. That it links it to the Atom at all is significant. The Atom is a road and track going sports car, which means it has a pretty narrow brief: it’s meant to go quite quickly and entertain its driver in the process.
The Nomad is meant, then, to do similar, only on a broader selection of surfaces than the Atom. Yes, it will entertain on the road and yes, it will even entertain on a circuit thanks to its truly remarkable suspension system. But it’s the Nomad's ability to go beyond smooth surfaces and still bring a huge smile to your face that is its trump card. To drive one on a loose track, slide it around, yump it and yank on its optional tall handbrake lever to spin it in its own length is the stuff of absolute hilarity.
If the Nomad’s purpose is to put a smile on your face, pure and simple, then it fulfils its purpose like no other car I’ve driven. Best car this year? As much fun as I’ve had in any car this decade.