As Scotland gets its first Zenos dealership we take a look at the latest British sports car maker to hit the scene
So what is it?
At heart the Zenos is a lightweight sports car designed to be able to cut it on road or track.
Conceived to offer affordable access to properly thrilling driving it’s taking on established names such as Caterham and Lotus.
Managing director Mark Edwards told Scotsman Motors that the E10 aims to fill a gap between the more mainstream lightweight offerings and the hugely expensive halo models of its competitors.
Is this not another of those tiny flash-in-the-pan British sports car firms?
Absolutely not. Unlike a lot of those overly-ambitious passion projects, the Zenos team is packed with the technical and business know-how to produce and market a bona fide success.
As Edwards pointed out, there’s a reason Zenos is based in Norfolk. Already home to some of the UK’s most successful sports car manufacturers, the region provides an embarrassment of talent when it comes to small, focused cars.
Edwards himself spent eight years at Lotus before joining the management buy-in of Caterham. The rest of the team are equally experienced, with engineers drawn from the likes of Lotus, Caterham and Ariel and business minds who have worked for a variety of major manufacturers.
This year they will turn out 150 vehicles and the plan for next year is to ramp that up by 50 per cent. The E10 is already being sold around the globe, from Europe to the US, Australia and Japan.
Very good, but what about the car?
Currently there are three versions of the same base model – the E10.
The core of the E10 is a lightweight aluminium/carbon hybrid chassis and mid-engined layout. All versions come with double wishbone suspension and Bilstein dampers and they can be specced with adjustable track-tuned springs and dampers, quick-release steering wheel and six-point harnesses.
The basic E10 starts at £26,995 and comes with a 200bhp 2.0-litre engine. That might not sound a lot but with only 700kg to haul around it gets the E10 to 60 in just 4.5 seconds.
A £6,000 jump will get you into the E10 S with the same turbocharged 2.0-litre 247bhp EcoBoost found in the Ford Focus ST, which knocks 0.5 seconds off your 0-60 time.
At the top of the tree is the £39,995 E10 R. Its 2.3-litre engine chucks out a ridiculous 350bhp and puts the R in the 500bhp per tonne club. The R also sheds some weight and gets a six-speed ’box and upgraded brakes, handy when it can hit 60mph in 3 seconds.
So what’s it like?
This is technically a road car but the fact that a windscreen is optional and there aren’t any doors makes it clear where the E10 is likely to spend a lot of its time. We got a chance to experience the E10 S on-track at Ingliston Circuit recently, although sadly only from the passenger seat.
What’s clear, even from there, is the E10’s supercar-humbling performance. The acceleration is instant and brutal but what really impresses is the car’s agility. Being so light, it dives into corners staggeringly quickly, stays flat throughout and then rockets out the other side. It also grips like you wouldn’t believe - with a skilled hand/foot it can be provoked into beautifully controlled drifts but otherwise it feels clamped to the road.
How such a focussed vehicle manages out on the open road remains to be seen but the driver who brought the car to Edinburgh from Norfolk was full of praise for its road manners. We’ll hopefully be getting behind the wheel very soon and will report back.