Goodwood Festival of Speed 2013

It’s now safe to assume that the Goodwood Festival of Speed is the British Motor Show. Last year’s 180,000 visitors may seem paltry in comparison to the near-two million that attend Paris or Frankfurt, but neither of those shows are situated in the middle of nowhere or have traditionally catered solely for autophiles of the highest caliber. Whilst staying true to the orignal vision of what the show should be, the Festival of Speed is growing its appeal and its popularity is undergoing something of an explosion.

Jaguar's stillborn C-X75 supercar has all the drama of its would-be rivals from Porsche, Ferrari and McLaren. The Jaguar champions downsizing, with a 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine that generates over 500bhp.The C-X75 also uses electric motors to help it emit just 89g/km carbon dioxide.

Very little will prepare you for seeing the McLaren P1 travelling at speed in the metal. It hugs the ground in a way alien to road cars and - for all the ciriticism of its overly complicated, inhomogenous design - in the light of day the organic curves and aggressive haunches of its carbon fibre body give it an overworldly aesthetic. 

Unlike many of the larger motor shows, visitors often buy the cars they see. As such, all the major manufacturers invest millions of pounds in massive installations whilst many smaller specialist makers and tuners occupy smaller booths. The amazing thing is that amidst stands of the latest and greatest road-going creations money can buy blood-and-guts racing royalty thunders up the Goowood Hillclimb. It simply doesn’t get any better if you love cars.

The unique blend of road and racing cars also means that – as hybrid and electric technology increasingly pervades both disciplines – green cars are everywhere.  Originally cubbyholed into a cluster of tents behind the main stands, hybrid and electric cars this year occupied prime motor show real estate. Mercedes’ blue chrome SLS Electric Drive sat on a pedestal above conventional AMGs and the electric ZEOD Le Mans concept enjoyed its own exhibition on the top floor of Nissan’s stand, to name but two examples.

Mercedes' SLS AMG Electric Drive recently stole the Nurbrugring record for an electric production car off the Audi R8 e-tron. Ferocious torque from four electric motors mean the SLS is astonishingly fast for its generous kerb weight. Range is around 155 miles.

Nissan's ZEOD takes off where the brilliant DeltaWing finished. The target is to complete a zero emissions race pace lap of Circuit de la Sarthe at next year's Le Mans 24 Hours. Top speed is anticipated to be 185mph, due to in part to the car's incredibly narrow track, which helps it cut through air.

This year’s hill climb itself saw just about every powertrain imaginable, from Drayson Racing’s electric land speed record-breaking B12 69/EV to a production version of Hyundai’s hydrogen fuel cell Tucson. The diesel-hybrid Volkswagen XL1 and Le Mans winning Audi R18 e-tron quattro also put in appearances, illustrating how effective the combination of electric motors and a diesel-powered engine is on road and track.

Even the show's headline acts were hybrids, as a full production version of Porsche's 918 Spyder was joined by the McLaren P1. Both cars are capable of zero emissions driving, with the Porsche capable of a potential 20 miles under electric power alone. Both, however, had their combustion engines on full song whilst attacking the hill.

Drayson Racing's B12 69/EV recently broke 200mph and set a new electric world record. The B12 is based on a Lola Le Mans chassis and can charge wirelessly. Here Jonny Cocker prepares to put the slightly frisky car up the hill on suitably cold tyres.

The hybrid Toyota TS030 that finished second at this year's Le Man 24 Hours occupied front and centre of the Toyota stand. It's not hard to see why successful race cars that use alternative drivetrain technology appeal to manufacturers. 

One of the most amusing – and enlightening, for many – moments of the weekend was Toyota’s electric TMG EV P002 Pikes Peak challenger going up the hill. Its shocking pace surprised everyone and was a timely reminder of the potential of electric propulsion.


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Racing: Drayson B12/69EV