"In the mid-'90s Lotus launched a car that turned the company around. A modestly-powered K-series sat behind the driver's seat in a sub-tonne sports car, with a manual ‘box and rear wheel drive, all supported by a sublime aluminium "
Zenos – the upstarts treading on Lotus toes
With ex-Lotus and Caterham personnel, Zenos seem to be doing things correctly from the start.
When Zenos appeared barely a couple of years ago, I could tell there was something different about them…
You see a lot of sports car manufacturers start up around England. Generally they borrow bits from companies that know what they’re doing – like Ford, Toyota, BMW – and usually fix them all to a ladder-frame chassis and pop some svelte fibreglass over the top. So when Zenos bucked the trend in a massive way – grabbing ex-Lotus, Caterham, even Tesla personnel, and deciding from that start that bespoke carbon fibre, digital dashboards, international customer service through expert dealerships and even unique quirks like changeable GRP panels were the way to go – people took notice.
They’ve already sold over 100 examples of the E10, some destined for trackdays on racetracks around the world, and some with full weather kit ready for the daily commute – despite having no doors.
Their 100th build, an ‘R’ version in a bespoke colour with a frankly monstrous 350bhp and ready to hit 60mph in an estimated 3.0 seconds, was built in 2016 and is proudly owned by Mr and Mrs Streeter.
Adrian Flux insurance, the team behind Influx, are a specialist insurance broker based just down the road (ish) from the home of Zenos in Wymondham, Norfolk. A base which is a mere five-minute drive from Hethel (i.e. Lotus). Well, it’s a ten-minute drive, but rules just get re-written in a Zenos. I went along to the factory on Adrian Flux’s behalf to check out the first of the production models, the Zenos E10, and specifically the turbocharged E10 S version.
You can read more about how I felt about the car’s handling on the Fluxposure blog, or if you just want to see the video of the E10 S doing what it does best on track and road, plus an insight into the factory, here’s the video.
Whilst there, their head of Sales and Marketing, Jamie Lewis, was in a teasing mood and suggested that there was more to come. It seems, perhaps, that not only have Zenos been able to sit comfortably alongside their erstwhile cousins over at Hethel in the desirability stakes, they might even begin challenging them for the title of top dog.
But that’s a tough ask. The Lotus brand not only has a reasonably stable financial situation (at the moment, might change tomorrow, then again the next day) with overseas investors keenly passing the ownership document around, it also has over fifty years of experience, making road cars that have a committed following and a race team history which has multiple F1 World Championships and names like Senna, Mansell, Clark and Fittipaldi amongst a lot of others.
Zenos cannot conjure that history up. All it can do is make sure the cars they produce are appealing, desirable, accessible and fun.
I think they’re on the right track.
CLICK TO ENLARGE