The Ariel Nomad is a fantastic all-terrain dynamo. We’ve seen the open-cockpit smile-machine tackle tarmac, dirt, potholes, jumps, and race tracks built for both on-road and off-road tomfoolery. We haven’t seen it embrace snow, however, probably because of that open cockpit that makes it so exciting in warm weather but a bit chilly when air temps dip below freezing. That didn’t stop Top Gear from getting all snowy with it, and frankly, we’re insanely jealous because it looks like wicked fun. And also, wicked cold.
It’s the classic fish-out-of-water story, but this time there’s more to the hook than just some shock factor. A two-wheel-drive sports car never comes to mind for conquering a snowy mountain pass, especially one without doors or a roof. But with a good set of tyres and a driver comfortable with opposite-lock antics, the Nomad’s ground clearance and rear-engine layout actually make it surprisingly capable in the white stuff, as the video above demonstrates.
Gallery: Ariel Nomad in the snow
The climb takes place in southern France at Mont Ventoux, which might be familiar to cycling fans. It’s part of the Tour de France, and is rather legendary for its tough climb to the 1,900-metre summit. As far as mountains go it’s certainly not the tallest, but the view from the top is properly breathtaking. And since the road is technically closed in winter, the Nomad adventure isn't plagued by tourists.
That’s probably a good thing, since the climb pretty much involved using both sides of the road with massive snowy powerslides at every corner. Also, remember when we said the Nomad could be good with the right tyres? We’re rather surprised to see a set of Yokohama Geolanders fitted to the car instead of something more snow-oriented. It’s certainly a capable all-terrain tyre, but perhaps the plucky Ariel wouldn’t have become lodged into a snow drift had a proper set of snow tyres been called to duty.
In any case, this video has us seriously reconsidering our definition of a snowmobile.