Green flag for Britain's Zenos E10

Britain is the land of the lightweight sports car, with a hit parade that includes the Austin-Healey Sprite, the MGB and a half-dozen or so Lotus models. The folks at the fledgling Zenos Cars are poised to add one more to the list. Meet the head-turning E10, a road-and-track beast that boasts a starting price tag of £24,995 (about $41,000).

The terms “affordable” and “sports car” are usually mutually exclusive, like “slow” and “Lamborghini Aventador”. But Zenos founders Ansar Ali and Mark Edwards employed an unconventional addition-by-subtraction mentality when designing the diminutive E10.

The result is a two-seat roadster that tips the scales at just north of 1,400lbs. That compares to about 2,000lbs for the Lotus Exige S; 1,135lbs for the Caterham Seven 480; and 1,350lbs for the Ariel Atom – cars that command significantly more than the E10’s starting price.

Ali and Edwards bring considerable automobile-design chops to the table. Ali is the former chief executive officer of now-rival Caterham Cars and the former general manager of Lotus Cars and Edwards is the former chief operating officer of Caterham and was a senior executive at Lotus.

The E10’s key ingredients are a four-wheel double-wishbone suspension with inboard-mounted front dampers, bolted to a stiff, feather-light chassis made of extruded aluminium and carbon fibre. (And for those who prefer a little eco-cred with their speed, consider that the E10 composite material is made from recycled carbon fibres, which offer about 70% of the strength of virgin fibres at a fraction of the cost.)

The E10 is designed to minimise repair costs, as well. Its 14 exterior panels can quickly and easily be replaced without requiring a trip to the body shop.

Providing the motivation is a Ford-sourced 2-litre four-cylinder engine. The mid-mounted four produces a stout 200 horsepower and 155 pound-feet of torque. The engine is matched to a five-speed manual transmission (a six-speed is an extra-cost option, as is a limited-slip differential). So equipped, the little roadster will scoot from zero to 60mph in a brisk 4.5 seconds and press on to a top speed of 135mph.

Zenos recently raised £2m from investors – including Sir Charles Dunstone, the co-founder of Carphone Warehouse – to begin producing the E10. The first E10 customers should receive their cars in early 2015.

In addition, Zenos plans to develop two more models, the larger E11 roadster and the lithe E12 coupe, by 2016 and 2018, respectively.

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