DIG out the sunscreen and clear your camera phone’s memory – the Goodwood Festival of Speed is upon us.
The greatest car show on the planet kicks off today — a four-day feast of everything automotive, held in the sprawling grounds of Goodwood House just up from Chichester, West Sussex.
A lot of you will be wondering which brand has secured the famous main display outside the house itself.
Well, I can tell you now it’s Aston Martin. The so-called “central feature” — as seen above — is commemorating 70 years since Aston first raced at Goodwood, and 60 years since it won the World Sportscar Championship.
Considering Bentley turns 100 this year and Mini has reached its 60th birthday, Aston have done well to get top billing.
Or, let’s face it, paid the most money. That said, it’s no surprise to me that Aston has deep pockets, after driving its latest model — the DBS Superleggera Volante.
Take a moment to drink in its beauty.
Good, now I’ll tell you what you need to know.
Aston is confident this is the fastest production convertible in the world. The bonnet bulges like Santa’s sack because it houses a brutal 5.2-litre V12 which thumps out 715bhp and has a top speed of 211mph.
For those counting, it covers 0-62mph in 3.6 seconds.
While Aston has managed to make it look more delicious than a kebab after seven pints, every design cue plays a part in keeping the car shiny side up.
The splitter at the front sucks air underneath the Volate’s supermodel physique, creating huge downforce while at the same time cooling the brakes.
Air is gulped in behind the front wheels and pushed down the scooped flanks of the car, and the rear diffuser stops the back end lifting by pushing the air upwards and away. It’s a true feat of engineering.
The droppable lid adds 100kg over the standard car but it does improve weight distribution, almost to a 50/50 ratio.
To say this car is “fun to drive” is like saying “Boris Johnson should sack his barber” — it’s straight out of the mouth of Captain Obvious.
But honestly, it’s something else.
The only letdown is the interior. It’s lifted straight from the DB11, which means it uses last-generation tech from Mercedes, and is nowhere near as special as the exterior and the performance.
I’d expect more from a car costing a quarter of a million.
Then again, does it really matter? Nah — this is still one of the best-looking and most capable cars money can buy.
See goodwood.com for tickets.
You’re just my F-Type
NEVER ask me to test a convertible rally car when it’s wet. By which I mean torrential. By which I mean Biblical. Or the interior might need a little wipe down afterwards.
But I’ve got to tell you this tail-happy, 300hp F-Type is a hoot to drive and will be a real crowd-pleaser sliding around the Goodwood Festival of Speed forest rally stage this weekend.
As for 100 per cent, bona fide rally gods, six-time world champion Sebastien Ogier will be giving a masterclass in his Citroen C3 WRC, as will Petter Solberg (Subaru Impreza WRC) and Juha Kankkunen (Peugeot 205 T16).
Alister McRae will drive Colin’s 1999 Ford Focus WRC.
I’ll be there too, at the wheel of my WD-40 Ford Fiesta WRC. Wish me luck.
Watch the Goodwood highlights on ITV4, 8pm, Wednesday.
SUPERCAR TOP 10
MORE than 650 cars and bikes worth £1.8BILLION will be at Goodwood, or as I call it, Glasto on wheels.
Head to the Michelin Supercar Garage to see 50 of the world’s most exotic supercars. It’s Insta gold. Here’s my top ten . . .
W Motors Fenyr SuperSport
Porsche 911 Singer
Apollo Intensa Emozione, below
De Tomaso Project P
Running up that hill
Here are some of the other motors taking to Goodwood’s legendary ‘Hill’.
THE competition may as well pack up and go home because this is the nuttiest hot hatch, ever. The Mercedes A45 at 421hp has more output per litre than a McLaren Senna. Gulp. But here’s another big number for you: £50k. Gulp.
I’VE yet to meet anyone who doesn’t love the Honda ‘e’. It’s small and cute and rear-drive and can out-turn a London taxi. Cameras replace the wing mirrors. Range: 125 miles. Price: £35k. You need to really love it at that price.
PEEP show. Porsche has put a camouflaged prototype of the all-electric Taycan in a huge box with viewing holes. We’ll get a proper look when Mark Webber drives it up the hill on Saturday. Porsche will also show the Cayman GT4, 911 RSR and 935.
MERC, Ferrari, Red Bull and Renault will run F1 cars up the hill and Nigel Mansell’s “Red 5” from 1992 should go for £3million-plus at a Bonham’s sale tomorrow. F1 rookie Lando Norris will drive the legendary 1970 Can Am McLaren M8D.