There’s nothing autonomous here. You aren’t reading the paper or clicking on another cat video. You secure the five-point safety harnesses, depress the starter, and rocket into the world of actual experience. Everything fades away as you become one with the car.
The Zenos E10 S is about a pure experience, and that makes itself known by the lack of driver aids. The steering is manual and extremely heavy when the car isn’t moving fast. The brakes need to be hot to give adequate feel, and it takes real pressure to stop. The sound that radiates from the engine behind your head is addictive. It’s a mix of the Ariel Atom’s psychotic concerto, and the lower grumble of Volkswagen’s VR6.
Piloting the Zenos E10 S through canyons and deserted highways, you get the sense that this car was built as last bastion against the mounting surge of autonomous vehicles. It’s pure, distilled driving. It doesn’t coddle you when you inevitably screw up, cutting power or vectoring its torque. It will bite you given the chance. Where it differs from others in its class is that it won’t cripple you.
Progressives Aren’t Just Politicians
Ninety percent of track cars, sportscars, and supercars have one job: destroy lap times. Thus, manufacturers fit these cars with suspensions that feel as if they were made of a solid pieces of metal. Manufacturers overlook that many of these cars will never be taken to the track. Rather, they’re driven on the street where the pavement isn’t pristine, and pot holes exist.
For the E10 S, Zenos fit progressive springs, which gives it a much softer ride when pootling along, but as you dive deeper and harder into a corner, the spring rate shoots up, and the ride becomes rigid. The car we drove, though, felt as if it had teddy bears for shocks, and took ages to settle after we initiated the corner. It didn’t roll egregiously, but it wasn’t as confidence inspiring as we hoped. This E10 S though, was still a preproduction unit, and its suspension settings are fully customizable.
Saves Your Soul, Your Spine, And Your Bank Account
The world is replete with supercars and track cars that come with price tags made to turn your hair grey. McLaren’s 675LT costs $265,000, the Ariel Atom 3S costs almost $90,000, and the BAC Mono, which we’ll remind you has only one seat, costs a staggering $245,000. With the driving experience being assaulted, and the very act of driving oneself in danger, Zenos wanted to reignite the joy that everyone once had for driving, not just the rich.
Somehow, with a hybrid carbon tub and an aluminum spine, the Zenos E10 S starts at only $39,950. There are a few options, but the price barely increases. It’s a supercar that you don’t have to take out an insurance policy worth the sum total of the Vatican archives.
With Tesla debuting its autonomous system to much success, and every other manufacturer announcing they’re working on their own as well, the world of self-driven automobiles will gradually shrink until it evaporates. Cars like the Zenos E10 S have the ability to stymie that “progress.” It’s not perfect, but nor is it supposed to be. It delivers the satisfaction of driving just for the sake of driving.
Engine: 2.0-liter EcoBoost Four-Cylinder
Price (base): $39,950
Pure, distilled driving pleasure
Ford engine is cheap and reliable
Suspension needs to be dialed in better
Gauge cluster could be bigger and easier to read
Strong winds have a tendency to blow it around
Photo Credit: Jonathon Klein for BoldRide