Sometimes less is more. In cooking, that means cutting back on the spices can produce fuller flavors filled with subtleties. In cars, it means that cutting down the weight while holding onto the horsepower gives you something that goes round a corner like a stabbed rat. This week Zeno Cars tried its hand at this recipe as it launched its super light E10 sports car at Autosport International 2014 in Birmingham.
When we last saw the Zenos E10 in October, it was little more than nibbles of information and sketchy sketches. Now the company, founded by former Caterham executives Ansar Ali and Mark Edwards, has taken the wraps off what of the first of three new models of small, affordable, road-legal cars for motoring enthusiasts that are scheduled to roll out over the next five years.
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Available in both right-hand and left-hand drive, the Zenos E10 is a rear-wheel, step-in two seater road-legal track car with Elise-type proportions. With an overall length of 3,560 mm (140.1 in) and a curb weight of 650 kg (1433 lb), it has one of the highest power to weight ratios for its price class: 300 bhp per tonne.
The E10 has definite echoes of a Caterham car, but would never be confused with one. The E10 has a much more high tech feel with an aggressively aerodynamic body that looks like it was designed as one gigantic spoiler to keep it glued to the road.
The grille isn't just aggressive, its downright angry. It even looks a little scary going into the distance with its non-nonsense rear. But from the side, everything comes together in a profile that’s probably as close to poetry as you’re going to get in carbon composites.
However, it’s the extremely efficient, compact nature of the E10 that stands out. It’s less a car you sit in than a car you wear. The chassis, bodywork, and tub are so interconnected that its hard to tell where one bit ends and another begins. The outside is a hybrid carbon/aluminum monocoque with removable front and rear wings. Underneath, the chassis platform is a spine made of a single-piece aluminum extrusion through the middle of the car to improve rigidity and a carbon cockpit that straddles it.
The carbon tub straddles the spine and is made from recycled carbon. According to Zenos, this saves weight and cost while retaining 70 percent of the technical characteristics of continuous-layered carbon fiber. Assembled, the cockpit forms a fully encased steel safety cell complete with twin roll-hoops and side-impact bars integrated with the carbon monocoque.
The powertrain that thunders this roadster around the track is a mid-mounted, normally aspirated, two-liter, four-cylinder Ford GDI engine with over-square configuration and variable cam timing encased in a rear extruded sub-frame, which is removable for assembly and in-field repairs. It pumps 200 bhp (149 kW) and 210 Nm (155 ft-lb) of torque, which is a lot for something this light, to produce a top speed of 135 mph (217 km/h) and 0 to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds. There’s a five-speed manual gearbox, a double wishbone design front and rear that connect directly to the spine, bespoke tires, and Alcon (two Pot) racing calliper brakes in the front and OEM with integrated handbrake in the back .
The interior makes even a minimalist Caterham cockpit look like a blinged out American luxury car with lightweight composite seats and a tiny speedometer/driver information display dead behind the steering wheel. All the other readouts come from the center-console multi-function LCD that looks like Zenos slipped a smartphone in the dash and called it a day.
The Zenos E10 sells for a base price of £24,995 (US$40,800), but the first 75 E10s to come off the line will be the Launch Edition, which will sell for £28,995 (US$47,300) and includes a six-speed manual gearbox, a limited slip differential, a quick release steering wheel, bespoke Zenos composite seats, four-point race harness, an OZ performance wheel pack with ZZR Avon tires, footwell heating, and special red “launch edition” wings.
Deliveries are slated to begin in early 2015.
Source: Zenos CarsView gallery - 20 images