There was a time when it was unusual to find a turbocharged sports car as light as the Zenos E10 S.
With only minimal mass to move, matching horsepower with equally generous torque hardly seems necessary. And yet if you’re a start-up sports car maker looking to give your debut model as much bang for the buck as you can find from a customer engine in 2015, you’d be inclined to opt for something with forced induction. Of course you would. The car industry as a whole has, after all, collectively backed turbocharging these past couple of decades.
And besides the abundant, mind-focusing pace that it provides, Ford’s 2.0-litre Ecoboost engine also gives the E10 S an unexpected kind of character that’s unusual among its immediate rivals – and it’s not unlikeable, either.
First and foremost, the E10 S is quick – which must have been exactly what Zenos was aiming for. The car’s sticky Avon tyres have no trouble at all transmitting the engine’s torque onto dry asphalt, making it easy to get the car to 60mph in less than 4.5sec and on to 100mph in little more than 11 seconds – considerably quicker than anything made by Caterham, Ariel or Westfield for the same money. That kind of advantage could be key, whether you want track-day lap time superiority or just Breakfast Club bragging rights.
What about the quality of delivery? The whistling, whooshing and hissing of the E10 S’s induction system is certainly loud enough that you’ll never forget about the presence of a turbo here. That said, throttle response is also crisp enough to avoid becoming an obstacle to enjoyment of the car. Turbo lag is barely noticeable even at low revs, and the engine spins quite freely to the 7000rpm redline.
What it will also do, while plenty of rivals refuse, is haul through a high gear from low revs with true urgency. Trickle onto MIRA’s mile straight in fifth gear at around 20mph and flatten the accelerator and the car wastes no time at all in picking up speed. By the end of the measured mile, you’ll be at 130mph – hardly any slower, believe it or not, than you’d be travelling if you’d done a full-bore standing start instead.