What is it?
No other country on earth props up a national car-building cottage industry with the enthusiasm of England. Beneath the larger firms you’ve definitely heard of - Caterham, Ariel, Lotus - there are dozens more tinkering and imagining and kit-creating in an oil-stained niche of splendidness. Few, though, threaten to break the big time.
Zenos is different. Its story we’ve told elsewhere, but the bare bones are that it was started by old hands and known faces, both well weathered from years of toil in Surrey and Norfolk. Crucially, they began with a clear vision and concrete bottom line. The E10, in its more powerful S guise here, is what has popped out 24 months down the line.
Built around an innovative ‘backbone’ of aluminum - with a carbon-composite tub and an extruded rear subframe to house the engine - the car is a mid-engined, rear-driven and track-enabled but also road-focused two-seater. There are no doors and there is no roof. So we’re talking strictly second car, summer fun adventure here. But we’re talking a lot of it, with power coming from Ford’s 250bhp 2.0-litre Ecoboost unit.
We’ve already had an introduction to the E10 on circuit, in prototype format. Now, with the model moving into the manufacturing stage, we get a chance to try it out on the road for the first time - which is where Zenos expects the majority of its customers to spend most of their time. Served up without race dampers but with the optional six-speed manual gearbox (over the standard five-speed), uprated brakes and heated windscreen, the car is very much as the initial 100 or so buyers have reportedly chosen to spec it, too.