Sunday, March 6, 2016

NOVA Ion 4 S ( The tough )

NOVA Ion 4 S

I have flown all the Ion series from the first one to this new 4th version.
Take off on this low aspect ratio B is quite easy and spontaneous.
During the Ion 4 S test flights, i had the Buzz Z5 in SM size also for testing.
For three days, i was top landing, changing glider, again and again, with the company of friends to compare them also in the air.

I flew the Ion 4 S from 90 to 99 all up, to notice that the Ion 4 S can be flown easily at mid weight without loosing its energy. In rough conditions 95 all up could be well enough…For racing upwind, 99 is fast and very efficient !

The Ion 4 S from 92 to 99 has a medium brake travel, and the pressure on the brakes can be described as slightly medium to hard, but agile and precise, and it’s a small step in agility over the Ion 3 S.
The Buzz Z5 brake travel is similar in precision and response but slightly lighter.

The Ion 4 S can be turned very flat with little brake input coupled with weight shift. Stationary turns and coring small bubbles are a delight. Hard pull on the brakes and the Ion 4 will logically dive showing an agile behavior.

Climbing in weak thermals next to an Ion 3 at 95 all up showed a similar climb rate, but once the thermals gets a bit strong and punchy, then the Ion 4 S will show a clear advantage over the Ion 3. In company of a Buzz Z5 SM, in windy conditions showed that in weak thermals they are also similar in climb , but again as soon as the thermals gets punchier the Ion 4 S shoots upward, like a spring, even loaded at top !
I felt it has a tendency to cut through better the airmass and climb without bumping even more efficiently than any new low aspect ratio, B glider i have tested.

The comfort in the air reminded me of the tough Ion 1 which leads me to say that the feeling under the Ion 4 S can be best described as “indestructible" !

The Ion 4 S doesn’t have a pitch back in thermals nor a front one. It climbs peacefully, with a positive vario giving this impression of flying a performance paraglider.
  The roll movements are just present to show the thermals, rather than to shake its pilot.The overall comfort feel is present.

Doing some glides with the Ion 4 S showed an increase in glide angle over the Ion 3, and a significant one when using the bar.
The trim speed of the Ion 4 S (80-100) loaded at 95 is around 0.5 km faster than a Buzz Z 5 SM (75-95) loaded at 90.
The glide angle at 45 km/h is impressively on the Ion 4 side.
The Ion 4 has indeed a very good glide angle especially accelerated !
I was impressed by the amount of performance / accessibility ratio it delivers.

The top speed is around 52 km/h at 1000 ASL.
The leading edge stays solid and the speed is fully usable.
Ears are easy to induce with a fast opening.

The speed bar risers were installed on my Ion 4 S. They are a nice feature that pulls the C’s and B’s evenly without deforming the profile.
Using them in full speed mode is efficient enough but hard to pull.The Mentor 4 S ones are lighter in pressure.

Tough, fast, comfortable, superb performance for a low aspect ratio glider, good agility and climb.That’s the Ion 4.

It seems that NOVA fine tuned the Ion 4 for a flatter polar and toward a performance use for XC purposes.

The race for performance will never end, but creating a low aspect ratio, easy to use, B glider that has the edge in overall performance especially accelerated, with an indestructible feel in turbulence is what makes paragliding even more magical.


  1. I'll have a chance to share the air soon with an Ion 4, it makes me happy that there are other great low B gliders to choose from.

  2. Ziad, First of all congratulations on your always interesting comparisons. I am still deciding weather to go for the entry level EN B ION 4 or rather for, her slightly more advance sister, the Mentor 4. I wonder if you could share any thoughts in terms of their respective comfort versus efficiency.

    1. Hi Bernardo,
      It depends mainly on your flying skill...the Ion 4 is enough...but if you need more performance, then the M4 will need more work than the Ion 4 in strong conditions.

  3. Hello there Ziad,
    I wonder if you could give a thought about the differences between the ion and the Base. I'm not particularly concern about performance, but more the ratio fun factor Vs safety. General speaking I'm not afraid of collapses, as long as they are predictable and asymmetric (the closer to the tips, the better, of course). I'm terrified of unexpected violent front or massive ones.
    We'll follow you. You are a reference.

    1. Hi Diego,
      Thank you.
      If you favor agile handling the Base is more manoeuvrable, lighter in the brakes and more fun to fly.
      That doesn't mean that the Ion 4 isn't ,but less than the Base.
      The feel under the Ion 4 is a stiff solid glider.
      Smaller aspect ratio will logically recover faster from any collapses.At least for the latest generation gliders.

  4. Hi Ziad,
    would you say the ion 4 has better climb rate than the buzz z5? also what one of the two would be better for coastal flying?


    1. The climb rate is similar for both with an edge for the Ion.Costal flying can be done on coordinated handling is on the Z5 side

    2. thank you For your time Ziad. Youre a star!

  5. Ziad, do you plan to test the Epsilon 8 soon ? for comparison with Ion 4, it could be very interesting ! Cheers, Daniel

  6. Hello Ziad,

    Thank again for the nice test ☺
    Currently flying a Mescal4 with which I start to enjoy XC in the alps. After 70 flights in 7 months I'm already looking at my next progression wing... Still safe but with nice XC capability. How would you rate the Ion4 vs the Tequila4 ?
    Or would you have a better advice ?

    Many thanks!

    (Next time I will use Edit...)

  7. Hi Zaid,
    thanks first of all for your fantastic website. It really is a great information resource. A quick question How is the performance in weak conditions of the ion wehn loaded at max? ( i am thinking of going from a nova susi q 20 loaded at 95 to and ion 4 loaded at 96-100 and hope to be able to stay up a bit easier in lighter conditions) thanks in advance for your insights. All the best , Simon

    1. Hi Simon,
      Thank you for your nice comments.
      For sure the Ion 4 flown from 96 to 100 is efficient in the's slightly better than the Ion 3 in that matter.

  8. Hi There Ziad,

    In your own scale from 1 to 4 how would you rate the fun feel factor of the ION 4?.... I tried to look for it in your EN B comparisson but couldn´t find your rating for this particular wing!

    Thanks for your feedback and congrats again for this awesome blog!

    1. Hi,
      Thank you!
      I think 2.5

    2. Well then, If you add up all your ION 4´s ratings this means that it is probably one of the top rated EN B wing if not the upper most one!

      Thanks again for your feedback

    3. For the aspect ratio of the ION 4 and until 5.0 I think..yes..this is the most rated B glider for pilots with little experience. Then you have the M4 which has the best performance on any how Nova was able to get this result amazing...but new designs are getting very close...and ones are coming shortly... ;-)

  9. Hi Ziad. Like others I read you reviews with a great deal of gratitude for the time and effort you dedicate to them. I currently fly an Airwave Sport 4. I've been told In turbulent conditions I can manage the S4. In terms of managing a wing and my workload on the S4, where would you put the S4 in comparison to modern wings? I hope to push my flying on but I'm not sure if I should go for a B e.g. Ion 4 or a B+ e.g. Iota. Thanks

    1. Hi Chris,
      You will just fine on
      The Ion 4 and most low B modern wings after flying the Sport 4.

  10. Great article. Helped me make the decision to order ion 4. Debating between the petrol and lime, Can you tell me if the lime shows a lot of dirt due to its lighter colour?

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  12. After years of flying the Sprint Evo I am looking forward to a replacement. If they were still producing them I would have gone for another Sprint Evo. I love it. But that is mot going to be. Do you think that the Ion 4 could be a good replacement (remaining at the same class level).
    Thanks a lot for your amazing contribution to our sport.