Think about it: no-one else in Europe could have built a car like the Ariel Nomad and convinced the rest of us it was a good idea. This is very much a minority car, the kind of machine you’d never quite see yourself owning. Then again, 10 years ago I’d probably have joined you in saying the same about an Atom - and then I finished up owning one for four very happy years.
It was striking over Christmas, amid the steady flow of car-nuts’ electronic messages that is nowadays a strong theme of every holiday or weekend, how consistently the theme of the Nomad’s enormous desirability ran through every message or posting.
It extended from members of the Ariel faithful - those who really know what it’s like to have a car with no body and not much of a windscreen - to those who usually only drive family estates, and I believe there’s one overriding reason for that: so high is the credibility of the tiny Ariel company from Crewkerne that the new Nomad is presumed to be a product of quality and high capability. Which is a big start for any new car that’ll sell entirely on its high 'gotta have one' quotient.
For me - a former Atom owner - it’s the pictures of the car testing that create the real responance. To that superb steering and taut chassis I remember so well can now be added the delicious feeling of long-travel suspension (just soft enough, Ariel says) plus the feeling of effortless torque at low revs. Change the road surface and it adds up to a completely new kind of driving, allowing a keen driver to investigate the subtleties of car control on low-grip surfaces rather than on a conventional track.
When viewed independently, the staple components of the new Ariel Nomad are nothing new. Brought gloriously together, they amount to an entirely new kind of driving.