In stark contrast to most other motor shows, the real headline makers at the Autosport International show weren’t mainstream manufacturers.
Instead, the biggest news came from smaller, niche outfits producing cars for a specific target market, once again showing the variety and talent that lies within the the lesser-known lights of the British car industry and beyond.
Zenos Cars was a prime example, with the emotion in former Caterham Cars CEO Ansar Ali’s voice very noticeable as he revealed his company’s new E10 sports car. The first of what will eventually become a three-car range from the firm, the E10 is now on sale for £24,995, or £28,995 if you opt for the special Launch Edition.
Ali admits it was tough going to get the E10 ready for its motor show debut, with the car not even out of the paint shop until 24 hours before the show opened its doors.
While Zenos may have managed to hit its deadline, elsewhere others had run wide of the mark. We were expecting Sin to show a fully-ready, road-going version of its R1 sports car at the show, but the Bulgarian company instead arrived with a hollow shell showing only the exterior of the car.
Still, the road-going R1 has plenty else going for it. With around 450bhp coming from its Chevrolet-sourced 6.2-litre V8 engine, CEO of the firm Rosen Daskalov reckons it’ll be good for a 186mph top speed, and a 0-60mph sprint time of less than five seconds.
Elsewhere, Radical lifted the wraps off its newly turbocharged RXC. In the course of its search for more power and improved long-life durability for the car, the firm partnered with Ford. That’s why instead of tuning the 3.7-litre V6 engine of the standard RXC to give more power, Radical has instead given the RXC turbo a twin-turbocharged 3.5-litre Ford EcoBoost unit. It’s good for 454bhp, and should let the updated car, which weighs in at 940kg, reach 60mph in 2.6 seconds.
Lotus revealed its new Elise S Cup R at the show. Intended to provide an entry-level route into the track-day market, the £52,838 Elise S Cup R gets 217bhp from its 1.8-litre, four-cylinder engine. Company officials told Autocar that while the car will undoubtedly sell in the UK, Lotus is expecting the majority of sales to come from Asia, where the track market is starting to open up to new opportunities.
Also on display was the 576bhp Vauxhall VXR8 GTS. With a price tag of £54,995, the GTS is billed as the cheapest way to drive over 500bhp in the UK. Its supercharged 6.2-litre V8 engine is reportedly quick enough to allow the GTS to outrun the likes of the BMW M5, Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG and the Jaguar XFR-S.