Skeletal tube frame and almost nothing else? Check. Some manner of go-fast forced-induction engine out back? Big check. Side-by-side seating in the form of barely-there racing buckets? Yep, those are there too. And how about a winch? Of course!

Most importantly, though, is it meant for off-road shenanigans? Most freakin' definitely.

Now picture what I just described. Got an image? Good. Are you picturing a UTV like Can-Am's Maverick R or Polaris' RZR Pro R? You are? Too bad, I was actually just describing Ariel's new Nomad 2, the second generation of the British company's off-road "car."

And it's that description and that "car" that I want to discuss today because, to me, the Nomad 2 sure as hell more closely resembles a UTV than your average Honda Civic. But is it a car or just a plated UTV? 

Honestly, I just don't know. 

01 Ariel Nomad 2 Driving
06 Ariel Nomad 2 Driving + Luggage
04 Ariel Nomad 2 Driving

As mentioned above, the Ariel Nomad 2 is the brand's second-generation off-roader, as it's been nearly 10 years since the first debuted. Only three things are carried over from the original, and those are the pedal box, the steering wheel, and the fuel cap. Everything else, however, is new. 

Gone is the old Honda engine and in its place, a 2.3-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder Ford engine out of the old Focus ST. Ariel's reworking of the motor, however, gives it an impressive max output of 305 horsepower and 382 lb-ft of torque. Surrounding that motor is an all-new exposed frame, the thing that Ariel's "car" offerings are famous for, as well as new suspension, off-road tires, and, well, everything else. 

But that's not what we're here to discuss. 

See, a while back, I drove an Ariel Atom, the Nomad's road-focused predecessor. And I now own a Can-Am Maverick X3, a go-fast UTV. The two, with their exposed frames, induction and turbo noises, and incredibly tactile dynamics offer essentially the same experience. At least in my opinion. And it's that which led me to the idea that the Ariel Nomad 2 isn't a car, it's a UTV.

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Unlike in the UK and Europe, you can't plate an Ariel vehicle here in the United States, at least at a federal level. On the company's site, Ariel states, "Ariel vehicles do not meet Federal Motor Vehicle Standards set forth by the NHTSA (or any other Federal vehicle regulatory department) and are presented as - Off-Road Use Only - at the federal level." It does, however, go on to state that it's the sole responsibility of the customer if they wish to attempt to register it for road use, with some states allowing for that fact. And, in places like Utah where I live, I likely could plate it—so long as it has turn signals, headlights, and taillights—just as I've registered my Can-Am.

Another tally mark on the side of it being a UTV.  

Their interiors are also almost identical, with a no-nonsense steering wheel, barely-there bucket seats, four-point harnesses, clip-on mirrors, a few buttons, shifter, and not much else. You're also completely and totally exposed to the elements. 

13 Ariel Nomad 2 Seating
17 Ariel Nomad 2 Instrumentation + Switchgear
12 Ariel Nomad 2 Cockpit

They're also both marketed similarly. Ariel calls the Nomad 2 "The ultimate go-anywhere sports car," while Can-Am tells customers that the Maverick R can "Blast through any terrain and never compromise on power, comfort, connectivity or style." Polaris tells customers to "Unleash a force of nature with RZR Pro R, an off-road beast." And that's similar to most other go-fast side-by-side marketing. But do you see what I mean?

Add similar power outputs in the top-spec side-by-sides compared to the Nomad 2, suspension setups, off-road prowess and capability, built by a motorcycle company, and you sort of see where the Venn Diagram between a UTV and the Nomad 2 meets, if not completely overlaps. 

So where does that leave us? I don't know. 

I'm not the arbiter of these things and Ariel is free to call the Nomad 2 whatever it likes. If it wants the Nomad 2 to be a car, sure, go for it. But when I saw the launch today, it struck me how similar the vehicles were to one another, so I figured I'd write this and ask you, our dear readers, what y'all thought. 

Is the Ariel Nomad a car or, as I illustrate here, a UTV? And do you want to see us test one against a proper batshit UTV?

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