“I swear to you,” says the animated Italian to my left: “even wet, it will weigh less than a tonne. The steering: manual (he means unassisted). Nothing between you and the car. But I’m sorry - I can’t tell you how much the carbon tub costs.”

He shrugs his shoulders, rolls his eyes. If he’s lying, at least he’s bothering to put on a show.

The man in question is Davide Kluzer, PR man for Alfa Romeo. And the car he is talking about – the one I’m riding in, in the direction of the Goodwood hillclimb startline – could just be the most significant new sports car of the last ten years: the Alfa Romeo 4C.

Couldn’t be much else. How many other new mainstream sports cars have come along since the original Lotus Elise, offering such Elise-like promise? But, while the driving will have to wait until later in the year, our first impressions of this new mid-engined welterweight can be formed here and now, under the gaze of the Goodwood crowd.