We returned to the Sussex site a few times (as restrictions permitted) for a series of events, but this was indeed the first full-scale auto show confirmed to take place on European soil since the much publicized cancellation of Geneva in February 2020.
A particularly poignant scene occurred early on, when Lotus took to the lawn at Goodwood House to show off the new Emira and Evija, under a sculpture designed to celebrate the brand’s affinity for weight reduction, nothing less. Hethel’s blazingly fast electric hypercar generated a lot of interest, but it was the Emira that generated the most hubbub throughout the weekend, with queues pulling away from the Lotus stand as spectators crowded in to get their first glimpse of the Norfolk firm’s first all-new model in over ten years. The first few days, sure, but if the balance and pace he displayed in the hill climb is anything to consider, chances are we will be far from disappointed when we take him through the hills. months to come.
The same goes for the Evija, which surely made even the most ardent electric vehicle cynics reconsider their opposition to zero emissions as it roared loudly and smoky down the starting line. In recent years, Goodwood has played a pivotal role in exposing car enthusiasts of all ages to the exciting potential of electric drivetrain technology, and this year’s race has proven to be a watershed moment for electric vehicles – of all. genres, not just hypercars (although the Pininfarina Battista and Rimac Nevera were comfortably among the most popular cars on display).
The new Electric Avenue exhibit has carefully brought together a variety of consumer and low-volume electric cars in a truly exciting way, several of which we hadn’t seen in metal before, like the Kia EV6 and Volvo C40. Recharge. But most importantly, it seemed that the punters were taking the opportunity to see how well such cars would fit into their lives: checking that the children were settling in the backseat, that the trunk was of a suitable size. and ask about actual range and charging speeds – suggesting that the long-standing electric revolution is well underway, and that even Britain’s biggest tankers are jumping into the action.
But, of course, not everything was electric. Among the big titles were BMW’s new 2 Series (a must-have in its exclusive shade of dark purple), fan favorite Toyota GR 86, the Genesis G70 Shooting Brake and McLaren Artura – each a user-friendly proposition in their own right – while Bugatti and Lamborghini were on hand to show off their gloriously extravagant, high-capacity new supercars, the Chiron Supersports and the Aventador Ultimae. For those who bemoan the perceived ubiquity of mainstream cars these days, or perhaps the increasingly tenuous position of low-volume enthusiast-focused cars, the Festival of Speed is a welcome reminder that the new metal can still vibrate just as effectively as the heavy-hitting classic racers who come to play.
Returning to the paddock after a two-year hiatus was a bewildering (and often deafening) array of legendary Group B rally cars, priceless first F1 racers, Italian exotics, Nascars, Le Mans prototypes, fearsome pre-war sports cars – even though you’ve seen them before, it’s extremely difficult to walk past without a closer look or a chat with the technicians. The access granted to the general public is unprecedented, which is a big part of the festival’s appeal, and the wide variety of machines on display means there really is something for everyone.