Denmark is not known for its rich automotive history. Seemingly eager to change that, a pair of ambitious Danes have decided that the Nimbus motorcycle would not be the only only automotive icon to emerge from Denmark. What sets their Zenvo ST1 supercar apart from most first-generation supercars is a refreshing approach to design and an “in-house” motor which features a unique form of aspiration.
Twincharging, where a supercharger and turbocharger are used in conjunction, has been a rarity in performance cars. With few precious exceptions, the twincharging system has proven too complex to be used, and modern turbos and superchargers have become so usable that coupling them becomes superfluous. But anyone who understands the original ethos behind the supercar knows excess is everything, and as such, the ST1’s 6.8-liter V8 is compound boosted.
Based off a Corvette motor and mid-mounted for optimal weight distribution, the ST1’s powerplant offers earth-churning amounts of power. Rather than opting for a V10 or V12 to make these power figures, the designers decided on a V8 to help keep the wheelbase relatively short and development costs low. This not only helps the handling but adds to the distinctive look of the car.
After all, this is a car designed to turn heads and instill drama. Whereas so many modern supercars are designed by committee and their shapes are made dull through the overuse of windtunnel exercises, the Zenvo sneers at bureaucracy and strives for a distinctive shape. Without question, its angular, stealth-fighter-inspired design may not be the most aerodynamically efficient, but that shape oozes those excessive stylings of the archetypal supercar. Veyron, eat your heart out.
Though being the fastest car out there was never a concern for Zenvo, it manages pretty well with the powerplant mounted behind the seats. With 1,100 horsepower arriving at 6,900 rpm, 230 mph is the reported top speed. Peak horsepower is made at the top of the rev range, but the peak torque – 1,050 lb/ft – is reached at 4,500 rpm. This combination of a large-displacement engine and two forms of forced induction make for an incredibly wide powerband and progressive power delivery.
Which is good because the only driven wheels are the rears. That much thrust on tap makes for a challenging car to tame, though that is part of the supercar mystique, after all. To ensure their customers enjoy – and survive – driving the ST1, Zenvo has built the car from steel tubing and the body panels are carbon. This makes for stiff, light chassis that is communicative and makes good use of all that power.
Despite the astounding amount of performance, the Zenvo remains a usable supercar With ABS, a firm but not disc-compressing ride and a three-stage traction control system. Wet mode limits engine output to 650 horsepower, sport mode allows for a healthy 850 ponies and track mode unleashes the full lot and turns all the aids off. Those brave enough to engage the latter mode need to know what they’re doing.
To harness that force, customers are given the option of a six-speed manual or a seven-speed paddle-shifting transmission. Shifting in as little as 35 milliseconds, the CIMA paddle-shifted gearbox is one of the fastest-shifting single clutch setups out there, though we imagine that the six-speed manual is more in keeping with the old-school supercar image.
In order to make a name for itself in the supercar market, the Zenvo has to fast and luxurious. Each car offers a tailor-made interior, adjustable racing seats, dual-zone climate control, heads-up display, a BOSE sound system and keyless access as standard. It’s clear that Zenvo’s designers have made some attempt to make it a worthy, usable supercar, but whether it will catch on in the long run is uncertain.
Hand-made, low-volume production cars are tough sells in the US. To make things worse, two public appearances have seen Zenvos go up, literally, in flames. Whether or not they’ll be able to live down that unfortunate impression isn’t clear, but what will cause most concern is the $1.8 million price tag this Danish sensation asks. It may be lots of money, but if you’re looking for something rare, brutal and conspicuous, look no further. Plus, for that $1.8 million, Zenvo throw in a custom Swiss watch worth somewhere around fifty grand. Ah, the good life.