Engine options, speed, acceleration and refinement

How accelerative your Nomad is depends on the options you fit to it. It can be had on race-track-specification Yokohama rubber if you like, and one customer has ordered his Nomad for track-day use only.

But that seems a touch incongruous to us, and the Yokohama Geolander rubber our test car arrived wearing seems a decent compromise between road and rough.

Thus equipped, full of fuel and with two road testers on board, it accelerated from zero to 60mph in 4.5sec, which is slower than Ariel’s claim in optimum conditions but a more than respectable result for a car making 351bhp per tonne, weighing 735kg and wearing these aerodynamics. By any standards below a supercar’s, the Nomad is blinking fast.

In-gear performance is similarly impressive, too. We’re getting extremely used to turbochargers, but it’s lovely to find and experience a normally aspirated engine as flexible as the Honda unit in the Nomad. It will pull in sixth gear from less than 20mph, and even that gear will take you from 50-70mph in 7.7sec.

Of course, this being a Honda engine, it’s better still if you’re prepared to work it hard. In third gear, the Nomad can accelerate from 30-70mph in only 4.7sec, and if you put in that effort, you’ll be rewarded with terrific high-rev throttle response and a biting, rasping sound to go with it.

The 2.4-litre engine, which revs to 7600rpm and makes peak power only 400rpm before that, is neither as sonorous nor as smooth as the smaller-capacity Honda unit you’ll usually find in an Ariel, but it has the measure of nigh on all other competitor four-pots.

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What is just as slick as other Ariels is the six-speed gearbox’s shift action, which is easy, short of throw and notch-free. The clutch pedal take-up is progressive and the other pedals are well spaced and weighted.

Braking is better than the raw numbers suggest. Bear in mind that the Nomad has no anti-lock, so it’s not just a case of stamping on the middle pedal and holding on. But pedal feel is good and it’s easy to feel – and sometimes see – which wheel is inclined to lock first.

With a few practice runs and some adjustment to the dial, it’s simple enough to get a good set-up to leave the Nomad at for emergency braking.

A different setting might be preferred for track or off-road use, where the rears locking first can help the car to turn. More on that in a moment, though.