It was touch and go for a while, but the last-minute announcement that Goodwood's Festival of Speed could go ahead as planned after a year's hiatus was met with widespread jubilation.
We've been back to the Sussex site a few times (as and when restrictions allowed) for a range of events, but this was effectively the first full-scale motor show confirmed to go ahead on European soil since the high-profile cancellation of Geneva in February 2020.
A particularly poignant scene came early on, when Lotus took to the front lawn of Goodwood House to show off the new Emira and Evija, underneath a sculpture designed to celebrate the brand's affinity for weight reduction, no less. Interest was high in Hethel's unfathomably rapid electric hypercar, but it was the Emira that generated the most hubbub throughout the weekend, with queues snaking away from the Lotus stand as showgoers crammed to get a first look at the Norfolk firm's first all-new model in more than ten years. Early days, for sure, but if the poise, pace it exhibited on the hillclimb are anything to go by, the chances are we'll be far from disappointed when we drive it in the coming months.
The same goes for the Evija, which surely gave even the most ardent EV cynics cause to reconsider their zero-emission opposition as it howled noisily and smokily off the start line. In recent years, Goodwood has played a crucial role in exposing car enthusiasts of all ages to the exciting potential of electric drivetrain technology, and this year's running felt like a bit of a breakthrough moment for EVs – of all genres, not just hypercars (though the Pininfarina Battista and Rimac Nevera were comfortably among the most popular cars on show).
The swish new Electric Avenue exhibition neatly brought a variety of mass-market and lower-volume electric cars together in a genuinely exciting way, including several that we had previously yet to see in the metal, like the Kia EV6 and Volvo C40 Recharge. Crucially, though, it seemed punters were taking advantage of the opportunity to see how well such cars would fit into their life: checking the kids fit in the back seat, that the boot was a suitable size and asking questions about real-world range and charging speeds – suggesting that the long-mooted electric revolution is firmly underway, and that even Britain's biggest petrolheads are getting in on the action.
But, of course, it wasn't all electric. Among the headline debuts were BMW's new 2 Series (unmissable in its exclusive shade of deep purple), the fan-favourite Toyota GR 86, the Genesis G70 Shooting Brake and McLaren Artura – each an enthusiast-friendly proposition in its own right – while Bugatti and Lamborghini were on hand to show off their gloriously outlandish, huge-capacity new supercars, the Chiron Supersports and Aventador Ultimae. To those who bemoan the perceived ubiquity of mass-market cars these days, or perhaps the increasingly tenuous position of low-volume enthusiast-focused cars, the Festival of Speed is a welcome reminder that new metal can still thrill just as effectively as the heavy-hitting classic racers that come out to play.