Zenvo has been producing evolutions of the same car for the last decade. It’s a big, mid engined supercar and the latest iteration, the TSR-S, produces 1177 brake horsepower from a 5.8-liter tri-supercharged (!) V8 engine. Zenvo says it’ll get from 0-62mph in 2.8 seconds and up to a limited 202mph. It’s a fast, stripped out, hardcore car.
It’s also an expensive car—if you want one you’ll need to put down an undisclosed but definitely seven-figure sum—and one that you’re unlikely to see two of.
There aren’t many in the wild as few have been built, but those who do have them get the personal treatment from Christian Brandt, Zenvo’s Design Director.
“I sit down with every client, talk to them, try to understand what they do, read the story they present to me and find out what they like,” he said. Clients vary, and can go for something more subdued, or something a little louder.
“If you can generalize about [what a Zenvo customer wants] anything is that there’s no common denominator,” he said. “We had a funny, interesting guy from Ukraine, he was dressed super colourful, his shirt covered in flowers. I knew when I spoke to him he’d appreciate crazy proposals for a colourful interior – purple leather, etc. He loved it.”
If you’re going to have a high value product you want to keep the people capable of paying for it both happy and in the loop. The customers, Brandt said, like the car the way it is: unhinged and purposeful, so that’s what he is giving them. He may be Danish, but his influences are Italian, something he thinks gives his car an edge.
“I’m a Danish Designer and Danish design has through the years gone through the minimalist philosophy,” he said. “However I’ve been drawing cars since I was a child, inspired by Italian design.”
He bagged himself an internship at Alfa Romeo in 1995, and later a job there, hence the Italian influences on his designs.
Those influences have made the Zenvo strangely timeless. How many other decade old car designs can you name that still look that good?
“We’ve been extremely lucky that we can present a car that’s a 12-13-year-old design but still looks quite fresh,” he said. “It’s aged well and you have no idea it’ll do that when you first draw it. Because it has links to the classical Italian sports cars it ages slower than others like Lamborghini. When you see a new Lambo the old/last one immediately looks old. We don’t have that problem.”
The Zenvo design has evolved, though, but it still sticks to its original brief: make something sinister.
“The brief was simple—it needed to reflect the fact that the car was powerful. I had images in my head of a lioness in Africa ready to attack,” he said. “Deliberate in the sense that when you’re idling along and when you see a Zenvo behind you know you have to move over.”
That’s a thing you likely will because the thing’s so savagely powerful. Though the TSR-S comes with active aero, something that Brandt had to work with on the new car. Putting a massive wing on rear deck and not adjusting the aero at the front means… bad things. The new active wing means the car is, according to Brandt, 10 percent quicker in the bends. A big difference.
While its car still looks sharp, Zenvo knows that it can’t churn out the same shape forever: “We are in the early days of a completely new model. With a similar ethos behind it. We’re super ambitious… [but] We’re not going to try and get to 500 kph, that’s not our field. Someone will just do 505 kph it the day after.”
The car design world was a very different place a decade ago. Now, new technology means cars can be tested before they’re even built. It means that cars can get smarter before even turning a wheel.
Brandt expressed a deep admiration for the Aston Martin Valkyrie, so maybe the next Zenvo will go down that route.
“Narrative design and showing the aero is my huge ambition,” he said. “And then of course still having aesthetics, not necessarily beauty, but aesthetics as our guiding star.”