Goodwood is famous to petrol heads the world over for its hugely popular Festival of Speed, Revival and historic racing events.
However, earlier this week I was invited to a special Media Drive Day featuring most of Goodwood’s main automotive partners, including Rolls-Royce, McLaren, Ferrari, Ford, Jaguar Land Rover, Bentley, Lexus, BMW, Honda, MINI, Maserati, Porsche, Lamborghini and Aston Martin.
Not only was it a great chance to drive some very special cars both on the historic track and in the grounds of the spectacular West Sussex estate, but a great chance to meet up with many of the PRs car journalists like me liaise with on a regular basis.
It was a day of treats and many firsts. For instance, I was chauffeur driven in the all-new Rolls-Royce Phantom. I’ll have to wait a little longer before I get behind the wheel, but being a passenger was quite an experience too – the rear of the Phantom is beautiful place to be, but it’s the magic carpet ride that’s unbelievable.
I once had a ride in a Ford GT40 pace car at the Goodwood Revival, but I’ve never driven on the circuit myself – until this week. My chariot was a Ford Mustang 5.0 V8 GT – but this was no ordinary ‘Stang.
Mine was kitted out with optional extras to make your eyes water including a GT Performance Supercharger Kit, bonnet struts, a Ford Performance Shift knob, a Strut Tower Brace Kit and Silver Body Stripes – resulting in a 670bhp beast with an on the road price of £53,824.
The track was dry, but despite its roar and all that power, it felt planted on the challenging Goodwood Motor Circuit, which is unchanged from its heyday more than 60 years ago.
Imagine if you were offered the chance to drive one of three Aston Martin DB11s? Well, that was exactly my dilemma, but hey, the sun was shining so I chose a Volante.
Beautiful, feline lines blend with a glorious V8 soundtrack to make a convertible like no other. It’s surprisingly easy to drive too, but just remember it has a kick in its tail if pushed too hard.
My day wasn’t just about muscle cars and exotica – I also got behind the wheel of the new Jaguar E-Pace for the first time.
I drove one of the most popular versions, the 177bhp diesel automatic in R-Dynamic trim, which costs from £41,650 on the road.
I was impressed with the E-Pace. Compact and nimble, it looks especially good from the rear, but it is up against some tough opposition including the superb Volvo XC40 – European Car of the Year 2018.
The baby Jag wasn’t the only SUV first for me. I finally took a Maserati Levante out for a spin.
With it’s brutal nose and muscular profile, the Levante has huge kerb appeal and handles well too. I drove the ‘S’ which boasts the same explosive Ferrari-sourced 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 found in the Ghibli!
Other highlights included my first look at the all-new Bentley Continental GT. Sadly it wasn’t available to drive, but it’s a stunning car up close.
The Goodwood Motor Circuit perimeter track was also available to use as a soft off-road course. Here’s a big Ford Edge being put through its paces. Not something many Edges will do, but good to know it has a rugged edge…
I can’t quite believe I’m saying this, but then I ran out of time – and just when I’d decided which of the two Lamborghinis (below) I was going to drive.
For the record, I was going to have a go in the Huracan Spyder, but it was a close run thing with the Aventador S Roadster. Maybe next year…
In the meantime, let’s take another look at the phenomenal eighth-generation Rolls-Royce Phantom, perfectly parked outside Goodwood House, the home of the 11th Duke of Richmond.
Starting at £360,000, this is a car like no other. More like a concept than an actual road-going vehicle, its sheer size and the level of craftsmanship is a sight to behold…