UK-based auto maker Ariel put its new off-road offering through its paces on various tracks in Wales, the home of British rallying
Development for Ariel’s new off-road buggy, the Nomad, began around four years ago. A tight-knit team of four worked on the project with other Ariel engineers contributing as necessary. It’s the first time the company has ventured into the off-road arena, and throughout the development, general manager Henry Siebert-Saunders had his own benchmark in mind: “On a personal note, I have a Land Rover Defender if the Nomad could do everything that [vehicle]could, it was another rung to our ladder, as it were.”
According to Siebert-Saunders, the Nomad’s suspension system was a focal point for the team and was developed in close collaboration with Bilstein and Eibach. “That, for us, was very new because we’re used to developing road cars, so it was one of the most difficult parts,” he says.
Testing was approached in the same way as for the Atom; a working prototype based loosely on an Atom was first built approximately 18 months ago. It had a slightly larger engine bay than an Atom and different suspension attachment points. The second prototype, which was more focused toward the final product, had more power and featured improvements to the suspension, in particular the wishbones.
Test runs were conducted at tracks predominantly in Wales on off-road routes, and were gradually built up in terms of the speed and aggressiveness of terrain. Wales was a natural choice of location due to its routes in rallying and is also logistically more convenient, as Siebert-Saunders notes, “Because we’re a small company, we can’t fly the car eight hours up to Scotland for example.” To test the vehicle’s off-road capability, the team fitted different tires and continually adjusted the damper and suspension settings. They considered varying road surfaces including gravel, mud, snow as well as jump scenarios.
Only minor changes were needed: “To get a decent area of vision for the windshield wipers to work well, we had to widen out the top rails a bit, so you can actually see out,” says Siebert-Saunders. “Debris ingress into systems was always a concern because of the nature of the exposed working parts, so while we didn’t encounter any problems, it became apparent that to be used in a serious motorsport application, protection would be required for some of the moving parts.”
Click here to see the Nomad in action.
Testing the Nomad equipped with gravel rally tires
Testing in the ‘Land Rover Defender’ off-road environment
The Nomad was also put through its paces in snowy conditions
March 12, 2015