The world of boutique sports car builders has become a little smaller this week. Autocar reports that the British automaker Zenos has gone bankrupt and is in search of a new investor. The company’s website shows that, as of January 16, the company is now being operated by administrators from Begbies Traynor LLP in London, a company that specializes in business recovery.
Some of you may not be familiar with the company, and that’s understandable. There are a surprising number of little car companies building small numbers of sports cars, so it can be easy to lose track of them. Zenos first formed back in 2012 by ex-Lotus and Caterham engineers. The first model released was the E10, followed by the ever faster E10 S and E10 R models – all three of which seem like highly entertaining little track-day cars.
All three models weigh remarkably little at under 1,600 pounds, and the least-powerful E10 uses a naturally aspirated 200-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder. The E10 S uses a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine from the Focus ST, and the E10 R uses a turbocharged 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine rated at 350 horsepower. Considering the output and displacement of that engine, we believe it’s the same engine as the Focus RS’s, but in a lightweight, mid-engine, rear-drive platform. The cars were even available in the US, but only as a complete chassis sans engine at a starting price of around $47,000. Owners here would have to supply a powertrain for it, but considering both the Focus ST and RS are available here, it shouldn’t have been too difficult to add one of those engines.
Though we never had the opportunity to try one out, various other outlets did, and they seemed to find it to have the typical advantages and disadvantages of track-day cars. James May quite liked one on the fifth episode of The Grand Tour, driving an E10 S in Morocco while it made wonderful whooshing and growling noises. However, Jeremy Clarkson had other thoughts when he included it in his list of the ten worst cars of 2016. While he lauded its handling and sound, he said it was too loud and too poorly equipped. In addition, he felt the steering could wear you out and the brakes locked up too quickly. As for whether Zenvos will be around the future to address those issues, only time will tell.