Featuring a bold ‘intelligent’ design by Surrey-based consultancy Drive Design, this sub-£30k track-day screamer is the first of the company’s new range of accessible sports cars.
The words ‘sportscar’ and ‘affordable’ are not usually found in the same sentence however, in 2012 Zenos Cars approached Drive Design with plans to build a completely new British sports car brand around a mid-engined, carbon-tubbed trackday car priced at less than £25K.
“At that point they [founders Ansar Ali and Mark Edwards] had a unique market proposition, a few key words that would define their brand. They also had the format of the car – mid-engined – and some clever ideas to maximise its performance while keeping entry costs low,” reveals design manager and director of Drive Design, Mark Pritchard.
“We had to create a design language that would embody all of their aspirations.”
According to Drive Design’s founder, Chris Longmore, Zenos was an exciting project for the consultancy as it gave them the opportunity to help build an automotive brand from scratch.
Following an intense design and development period in which Drive Design and Zenos worked hand-in-hand to lay down the foundation not just for a “lightweight, affordable, fun to drive” road legal track focused vehicle, but a full new range of cars that will expand to include a roadster (in 2016) and a coupe model (in 2018), the E10 show car made its debut at the 2014 Autosport International show.
It was very well received and Zenos launched into a period of rapid productionisation. “We had to be sensitive to the fact that Zenos had customer deposits, so the car’s appearance couldn’t alter significantly. Other than tuning the car’s character and balance, much of this period was spent working with suppliers and Zenos on feasibility and ensuring manufacturing costs were kept on target,” says Longmore.
“Right from the outset Zenos had a very clear business plan and budget, so working with them from a commercial angle was important.”
The secret of the E10’s affordability relative to its performance, is off-the-shelf durable Ford components including engine, gearbox, and brakes with an innovative composite tub made from recycled carbon fibre that offers 70 per cent of the lightness and stiffness of pure carbon-fibre for a tenth of the cost.
One of the main challenges during the initial design process was achieving the delicate balance between a friendly, approachable look in keeping with Zenos’ brand values while also communicating to the customer that it’s a thrilling, lightweight trackday car.
“With no doors, the belt line also needed to be low enough to step over but high enough to feel secure once inside – hence the kick up on the belt line,” explains Pritchard.
“A considerable amount of work also went into refining the way that the fenders connect to the tub, reducing the need for accuracy in the joint design while maintaining tight panel gaps.”
Rendered in Vred, this video highlights the various paint colours, alternate wheel sets and windscreen options of the Zenos E10
According to Longmore, at every point of the development, the team kept quality at the forefront of the design process, even on non-visible areas. For instance, the panels were conceived with tooling in mind from the outset, rather than addressed as an afterthought.
“Drive completely believed in and understood our vision right from the beginning. They committed themselves in every respect to developing the design of the E10, and helped us deliver a car that everyone is talking about,” says Zenos co-founder Ansar Ali.
In the last twelve months Zenos Cars has taken more than 90 deposits, with production beginning this month and deliveries scheduled for March.