Never underestimate the ingenuity and determination of the British sports car industry. Or its desire to boldly go where many have gone before, only to end up burned or broke. Sometimes, though, it works. At BAC, the Briggs brothers’ Mono is as single-minded and stimulating as it sounds. And now another feisty little start-up, Zenos, backed and run by former Lotus and Caterham personnel, is pursuing an equally elevated form of driving hedonism.
Actually, the Zenos E10 is probably what Caterham’s eternal Seven would have evolved into if it had actually evolved. Its chassis uses a single aluminium extrusion and has a tub made of recycled carbon fibre with a thermoplastic core. It’s a clever solution and gives Zenos bragging rights among the track day faithful.
So Zenos might actually be onto something. The E10 R is the raciest version, powered by Ford’s 2.3-litre Ecoboost engine, mid-mounted and turbocharged to produce 350bhp in a car with a weight of 700kg. This equates to a power-to-weight ratio of around 500bhp per tonne, roughly the figure managed by Bugatti’s monumental Veyron. The E10 R mods include stiffer spring rates, new brake pads and brake master cylinder, with a reworked engine map, and carbon composite seats with four-point harness.
It’s easy to get into and see out of (particularly if you’ve deleted the windscreen). Take time to appreciate the E10’s excellent driving position, well-spaced pedals and twin pod instrument layout. The Zenos makes the Caterham Seven feel as user-friendly as a medieval iron maiden. The turbo whooshes away behind your head and if you’re wearing a helmet (and you will be, particularly if you’ve deleted the windscreen), the acceleration physically squeezes your body into the seat. There’s some lag at low revs, but the R has enough torque to keep things lively.
And if you do stuff it, the Zenos’ body panels are simple to remove, its core super-strong. You might want to change the colour anyway. For a hardcore sports car, there’s an unusual civility to the little E10, and the guys who created it haven’t overdosed on adrenaline at the expense of common sense. Digital or analogue? This time you can have both.
From £26,995. zenoscars.com