Our home county of Norfolk has a proud and successful history when it comes to lightweight sports cars, from one-off builds and kit cars to F1 World Championship-winning racing cars. The lightweight ethos of the likes of Lotus, and now of newcomers Zenos, was born here.
Damien Cross went to the factory to see what the new E10 series is all about.
“It’s October and the roads are greasy, so a tough test for any car. I took the turbocharged E10S edition out for a drive on track and on the twisty Norfolk roads to see if that lightweight ethos still brings a smile. Can it compete with solid, expensive ‘sports’ cars built by other brands, or does Zenos’ inexperience ultimately mean it still has much to learn, and does their low-cost car lack in some departments?
“With this 2.0 EcoBoost engine it’ll be producing 250bhp when the revs build up, so in a car weighing well under 800kg including an optional six-speed gearbox and a tank of fuel (even a diminutive new Fiat 500 weighs a fair chunk more than that) Zenos’ claimed 0-60 time of 4 seconds flat comes as no surprise. This E10S has the same kind of bhp/tonne as a Lamborghini Diablo, after all. Plus, having the weightiest bits sat right over the rear wheels means the tyres grip like a rusty rivet when you’re pulling away from standstill.
“In fact, it’s only approaching triple-figure speeds when on track, hurtling into corners which were scary enough to be banned by the BBC, that the rear-end of the car decides to have a bit of a wander and try to take the lead. Even then, it’s playful rather than frightening.
“The combination of a recycled carbon tub, aluminium chassis, and no-frills equipment keeps the weight down. Pairing that with track-ready Avon tyres which are about as groovy as Alan Partridge mean you’d really struggle to find the limits of this car on a dry public road.
“It’s also quite a nice place to sit – it’s roomier than you’d think, well-thought out, and the digital dash and keyless ignition mean it could even be considered modern by sports car aficionados.
“It’s impressive stuff from this new brand, and to base themselves within turbo-chatter-shot of the Lotus HQ in Hethel is a bold and almost aggressive show of confidence. But you know what? They’re well within their rights to be so bold.
“There’s something in the mustard around here that means they like getting from A to B along twisty roads in a short time. I’ve driven a lot of cars like this in all weathers and for all reasons, and I can tell that Zenos have produced a decent little sports car here.
“The team at Zenos seem very proud of their E10, but hinted at more to come. Any volunteers out there offering to check out their next car (when it comes)? Although, I’m not sure you’re going to be able to stop me getting my hands on it first.”