Giving the Nomad a star rating here is redundant, really, because the tally typically indicates the interior’s quality versus its rivals, and the Ariel has none.

What it is like – almost precisely the same, in fact – is the Atom, which means two seats, a whole heap of metalwork, a gearstick, some pedals, a formidable-looking steering wheel and a tiny, button-festooned instrument cluster behind it. The chief difference on our test car, and the reason for a few extra buttons on the dashboard (such as it is), is the windscreen, although even this is optional on the Atom.

Nic Cackett

Nic Cackett

Road tester
Listing the features of the Nomad’s spartan cabin is like cataloguing the innards of a Challenger tank: what’s there is less interesting than what it does, feels and looks like

Naturally, listing the features of the Nomad’s spartan cabin is like cataloguing the innards of a Challenger tank: what’s there is less interesting than what it does, feels and looks like. In this, an Ariel product is unlike much else you’ll ever get into.

This fact is made patently clear by the entry procedure, which can be achieved quickly only via a feet-first dive through the side or else a clamber over the top, followed by freefall into the seat.

Neither is outrageously difficult, but you do rather suspect that, like a new pair of skinny-fit Diesel jeans, the Nomad isn’t going to be the right shape for everyone. That also goes for the seats, which do tend to punish the spinal column of anyone not blessed with the figure of a 1950s air stewardess.

Nevertheless, if you can make your peace with both, Ariel’s austere cockpit is a splendid place to sit. The £1794 addition of the windscreen means that a helmet isn’t necessarily required (although we’d recommend sunglasses, given the breeze at speed or the splatter potential elsewhere), which, in turn, means that without realising it, your mindset is tweaked from go-faster tunnel vision to panoramic fun-a-scope.

The layout and the brilliantly exposed mechanical nature of it all do the rest. Better still, it looks just as good plastered in muck and sweat.

Top 5 Lightweights

  • Ariel Nomad
    Ariel Nomad is powered by a tweaked 2.4-litre normally aspirated Honda engine

    Ariel Nomad

    1
  • Morgan 3 Wheeler
    The new Morgan 3 Wheeler is a characterful, evocative and terrifically fun car to drive

    Morgan 3 Wheeler

    2
  • Caterham Seven
    The Caterham Seven is the essence of a stripped-down sports car

    Caterham Seven

    3
  • Ariel Atom
    The Ariel Atom is superbike-fast, and as exhilarating as cars get

    Ariel Atom

    4
  • Zenos E10 S

    Zenos E10

    5

Find an Autocar car review

Explore the Ariel range

Driven this week

  • Ford Focus RS Mountune FPM375
    First Drive
    20 January 2017
    Does an official Mountune upgrade of 25bhp and 30lb ft, improve the already rampant and rather magnificent Ford Focus RS?
  • Audi S5 Sportback
    First Drive
    19 January 2017
    The Audi S5 Sportback is more bruising GT than practical sports car, but it makes sense for those wanting a fast executive saloon in coupé get-up
  • First Drive
    18 January 2017
    Despite receiving a cosmetic and mechanical refresh, Lexus's compact executive saloon still fails to provide much driving involvement
  • 2017 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV 5h review
    First Drive
    18 January 2017
    Big-selling plug-in SUV gets a light refresh in the face of new challengers to offer decent economy but only average driving dynamics
  • Mini Countryman Cooper S
    First Drive
    18 January 2017
    All-new bigger Mini continues to make a curious, flawed crossover hatchback, though it’s more compelling to drive than some and more practical than it used to be