Currently reading: Goodwood Festival of Speed 2021: show report and gallery
Sussex site opens back up to thousands for annual celebration of the world's most important cars

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.

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Returning to the paddock after a two-year hiatus was a bewildering (and often deafening) array of legendary Group B rally cars, priceless early F1 racers, Italian exotics, Nascars, Le Mans prototypes, fearsome pre-war sports cars – even if you've seen them before, it's excruciatingly difficult to walk past without a closer look or a chat with the technicians. The access granted to the wider public is unparalleled, which is a big part of the festival's appeal, and the sheer variety of machines on show means there really is something for everyone.

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Of particular note this year was a collection of historic race cars gathered to celebrate American motorsport titan Roger Penske, whose success as a driver and team owner has made him a household name in Nascar, Formula 1, IndyCar and a raft of other disciplines. Some 11 Penske-associated racers were on show, ranging from an incalculably valuable Ferrari 250 GTO to an Indy 500-winning Mclaren M16B and Porsche's RS Spyder LMP2 racer, which went up the hill with Penske himself at the wheel. 

The challenge of the Festival of Speed will always be making enough time to appreciate everything on offer, such is its scale and the diversity of its exhibitions (this year, arguably more so than ever before), but as an opportunity to see the past, present and future of motoring mapped out in such an engaging format, it is essentially unrivalled. Happily, if this year was anything to go by, what's most obvious is that it will retain that attraction well into the brave new era of motoring. 

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Here are the most important new cars that appeared this year:

Alpina B8 Gran Coupé

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Buchloe's performance take on the BMW 8 Series Gran Coupé brings the firm’s characteristically understated bespoke styling, Brembo brakes and a reworked chassis set-up, along with a mouth-watering twin-turbocharged 4.4-litre petrol V8. The new B8 Coupé offers 613bhp and 590lb ft for a top speed of 201mph - a real 'Bahnstormer.

New 2021 Alpina B8 arrives with 613bhp twin-turbo V8

Aston Martin Valkyrie 

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Aston Martin’s 1160bhp, multi-million-pound V12 hypercar made its festival debut this year, with F1's Lance Stroll at the wheel for its voyage the hill. It showcased its blistering performance, accelerating from 0-60mph in under 2.5 seconds, and deafened punters with its Cosworth-developed naturally aspirated 6.5-litre V12 engine.

Aston Martin Valkyrie: road testing begins ahead of deliveries

BMW 2 Series Coupé, BMW iX and BMW i4

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Three new models from BMW are starring at this year’s FoS, with the all-new 2 Series Coupé dropping its camouflage for the first time on Thursday. Munich’s smallest two-door coupé returns with a choice of rear- and four-wheel drive and a 369bhp M240i range-topper. The all-electric iX SUV is also making its UK debut, alongside the firm’s new Tesla Model 3 rival: the i4 saloon. 

First drive: 2022 BMW 2 Series M240i Coupé prototype review

Chevrolet C8 RHD spec

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The American firm has revealed the first ever right-hand drive Corvette, driven by a 6.2-litre V8. Plans plans for both convertible and coupé models to enter the RHD market were revealed last year.

Ferrari SF90 Spider


The Ferrari SF90 Spider took to the hillclimb for its first appearance in the UK. The car is said to offer “record-breaking performance" courtesy of its 769bhp twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 and pair of electric motors. Overall, it produces 986bhp and is the most powerful series-production convertible in the world.

New Ferrari SF90 Spider arrives as 986bhp drop-top hybrid

Genesis G70 Shooting Brake

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Hyundai’s premium brand revealed the Europe-specific Shooting Brake variant of its G70 saloon, but no further details were shared about which powertrains we'd see in the UK. A 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol four-pot and a 3.3-litre twin-turbocharged petrol V6 are offered in the saloon in other global markets. 

New Genesis G70 Shooting Brake is Europe-specific estate

Kia EV6

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Kia’s striking new flagship appeared publicly in the UK for the first time, showing off its radical new design cues and unprecedented levels of performance for the firm. The range opens with a 226bhp rear-wheel-drive model and is topped by the EV6 GT, with a 0-62mph sprint of 3.5sec. 

New 2021 Kia EV6 on sale in May from £40,895

Kimera Evo37 

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Italian motorsport outfit Kimera Automobili showed off a prototype of their modernised take on one of the most successful rally cars of all time: the Lancia 037. Named the Evo37, the firm claims it's capable of 498bhp and 406lb ft from a turbocharged four-cylinder unit. That should be enough to get the Evo37 from 0-62mph in around 4.0sec. Two cars were on display at the event, and both featured a preliminary interior with one sporting a unique 'no paint' livery.

Lancia 037: WRC legend reborn as 500bhp Kimera Evo37

Lamborghini Aventador Ultimae


The Aventador Ultimae is a final hurrah for both Lamborghini's bellowing supercar flagship, and the naturally aspirated V12 that powers it. The Aventador's successor will retain twelve-cylinder power, but with a hybrid element for reduced emissions, so the Ultimae really is the last of its kind. 

Lamborghini Aventador bows out with 769bhp Ultimae edition

Lotus Emira

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Lotus’s long-awaited final ICE-only model is one of the stars of the show at Goodwood, with the firm also featuring as the subject of the show’s central feature. The car will be offered with a choice of a four- or six-cylinder engines and has been described by company boss Matt Windle as “a Lotus you can live with”.

Lotus Emira: Firm's final combustion car to arrive on 6 July

Maserati MC20


The MC20 made its debut as part of the festival’s Supercar Run hill climb event, showcasing Maserati's new 630bhp twin-turbocharged V6 Nettuno engine. The Italian company says the MC20 can achieve 0-62mph in just 2.9sec and hit a top speed of 202mph. 

Maserati MC20 review

McLaren Artura

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The Woking-based supercar manufacturer showcased its new era of electrification at this year’s festival. The plug-in hybrid Artura made its debut at the festival, with a 205mph top speed and 3.0sec 0-60mph acceleration. The firm claims the supercar is capable of up to 19 miles on battery power alone with combined fuel economy exceeding 50mpg.

205mph McLaren Artura gets UK public debut at Goodwood

McMurtry Spéirling

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A bespoke, electric sports car, the Spéirling was presented with striking looks and a 60kWh battery that wraps around the cockpit, as opposed to the skateboard set-up favoured by most manufacturers. The firm claims the rear-wheel drive car is capable of a 0-186mph time of under nine seconds, while an underbody fan is claimed to produce 500kg of downforce, even at 0mph. 

Electric single-seat fan car launched at Goodwood

Mini Pacesetter

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Billed as an extreme version of the Mini Electric, the Pacesetter was designed as Formula E’s new safety car. The firm raced the zero-emissions, John Cooper Works-inspired hot hatch up the festival’s famous hillclimb. It achieves 0-62mph in 6.7sec and could preview a production-spec performance version of Mini's first proper EV. 

Mini Pacesetter: Formula E safety car hints at electric JCW GP

Pininfarina Battista


Automobili Pininfarina's hyper-EV shares powertrain tech with the Rimac Nevera. The nascent firm claims it will be the most powerful road-legal car yet produced in Italy, with four motors delivering up to 1900bhp and 1696lb ft. It also says it will be capable of a sub-2.0sec 0-62mph time and a top speed of around 217mph.

Pininfarina Battista "on track" for 2021 deliveries

Polestar 2

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The experimental Polestar 2 was officially unveiled, designed to showcase what a sportier version of the electric Polestar 1 could look like. The uprated car has a power output of 470bhp, but still runs the same twin-motor, four-wheel drive set-up found in the Polestar 1.

Experimental Polestar 2 brings power hike and chassis upgrades

Rimac Nevera

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Fresh from announcing its landmark tie-up with Bugatti, Rimac was out to prove the performance potential of its 1888bhp all-electric Nevera hypercar, originally codenamed C_Two. Goodwood's hill route isn't ideal for flat-out land speed record attempts, but the Nevera is clearly no slouch. 

New 1888bhp Rimac Nevera takes on Goodwood hill

Toyota GR 86

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The successor to the GT86 debuted at the festival as the third member of Toyota’s sporting GR line-up. It has almost identical dimensions to its predecessor and a similarly low centre of gravity. A 2.4-litre turbocharged boxer engine shared with the new Subaru BRZ (which isn't Europe-bound) packs 232bhp and 184lb ft and musters a 0-62mph sprint time of 6.3sec.

New Toyota GR 86 to make UK debut at Festival of Speed

Volvo C40 Recharge

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The Swedish firm presented the all-electric C40 Recharge to the UK. Production is set to start in Autumn this year, with prices starting from £57,400. It becomes the firm's second all-electric model, following the closely related XC40 Recharge.


Lotus Emira handed public debut as Goodwood celebrates brand

2021 Goodwood Festival of Speed to go ahead at full capacity

Felix Page

Felix Page
Title: News and features editor

Felix is Autocar's news editor, responsible for leading the brand's agenda-shaping coverage across all facets of the global automotive industry - both in print and online.

He has interviewed the most powerful and widely respected people in motoring, covered the reveals and launches of today's most important cars, and broken some of the biggest automotive stories of the last few years. 

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Peter Cavellini 8 July 2021

How about some videos Autocar, or will I just watch it on YouTube?