New British sports car maker aims to build a street-fighter under the Zenos brand
Is the British motor industry on the verge of a resurgence?
That's quite difficult to say, but all we know is that Zenos is a fledging carmaker from Norfolk, England with plans to make a new series of cars aimed at driving enthusiasts.
What you see here in official sketches is the so-called E10 which Zenos aims to put into production early next year. It's a track-focused, roofless roadster aimed at the likes of the Caterham Seven that will be road-legal, as well.
The concept is rather simple for the E10: light, quick, agile and fun to drive.
It weighs under a tonne, right?
That's right. Zenos says the E10 will have a monocoque made from carbonfibre and aluminium that should bring the overall weight to just 650kg _ in the region of its rivals (see sidebar).
The dimensions point to a very athletic appearance: 3,560mm length, 1,870mm width, 1,010mm height and 2,300mm wheelbase _ all translating to a short yet wide and low body.
As well, this should guarantee good levels of grip and agility, the latter facet enhanced via the use of not-so-wide 195/50-16 and 225/45-17 front and rear tyres.
Not much has been mentioned about the driving cockpit, although the drawings indicate the E10 is a strict two-seater. Zenos just says there will be composite seats and LCD digital display for the driver.
Where's the engine sourced from?
Zenos is using Ford's 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine which will be tuned in non-turbo form to 200hp achieved at 7,200rpm. Maximum torque is rated at 210Nm at 6,100rpm.
The E10's performance targets include a 0-100kph time of 4.5sec and 216kph top speed when mated to a five-speed manual (six-speed and limited slip differential will be options).
No, there isn't an automatic version or even sequential one. What we're talking about here is a car for purists.
Since Zenos will start with very low sales volumes, other parts of the E10 will also be outsourced including those Avon tyres, Alcon brakes and Bilstein shock absorbers. Speaking of the suspension, the E10 has rear double wishbones and front pushrod dampers.
How do you rate the Zenos's future?
Oh, we're afraid we won't be in a position to make such an assessment. However, it's always nice to hear when a new brand emerges, especially when it comes to making down-to-earth sports cars like the E10.
However, it's safe to suggest that the E10 should only attract a niche, especially in Asia where such cars would be treated as rich men's toys only to be exploited on deserted roads and track day events.
By the way: Caterham last week announced that it has launched an Asian motorsport arm replicating that of its one-make series in Europe. Malaysia will be the first country to host Caterham's Supersport series.
And with a fifth racing track set to open in Thailand next year, there seems to be potential for sports car specialists like these names in building their business in the region.
Official sketches of the E10 reveal a contemporary appeal.
USER-FRIENDLY ZENOS PLANNED
While the E10 project will be more of a track-day special, more user-friendly models are being earmarked for production by 2018.
The only clues to the new cars given by Zenos are these profiles pictured here. The E11 has a Targa-style, open-top body, while the E12 is a more traditional coupe variation.
The E11 and E12 will be crucial for Zenos in penetrating world markets, especially in Asia where roofless cars like the E10 tend to appeal less to users wanting a proper road car.
Such a strategy should reflect that of Lotus _ also based in Norfolk, like the Zenos _ which builds the Elise roadster and fixed-top Exige.
Caterham, another small-scale British sports car maker, has recently announced that it will make more practical cars than the Seven and forthcoming AeroSeven.
Apart from a joint agreement with Renault in building a new sports car in 2016, Caterham is also looking into city cars and crossovers.