Driver meet car meet hill meet co-driver. No matter that said driver was Esteban Gutierrez, Sauber’s F1 racer, or that said car was the arresting Vuhl 05, the new Mexican-engineered sports car; this was a baptism of fire that my presence in the passenger seat could do nothing to help with.
Gutierrez had come in for the final day of the Goodwood Festival of Speed from his home in Switzerland in order to help his fellow countrymen launch their car. But, true to F1 type, the fact he had neither tested the Vuhl nor seen the Goodwood hill before did nothing to stop him from pushing the limits where he felt safe to do so.
Flat out in places, cautious in others, you could see the mental check list being ticked off. A wiggle of the wheel. Steering feels well connected. Dab of the brakes. Decent calipers and the light weight combine nicely, thank you. Gentle, feeling gearchange then... bam, quicker, faster up through the ‘box, hard on the power.
And what a car. The Vuhl enters a crowded marketplace at a confident price, but there’s no doubt it’s fast and agile enough to be great fun. The quality of the fit and finish was impressive, too. And those looks may just have been crafted to explain what they mean in the Marmite commercial.
“I’m genuinely impressed,” said Gutierrez. “I didn’t know what to expect, but it is fast enough to raise big smiles, and very driveable. A run up the hill is not long to judge, but it feels like a well sorted car. It gives you a lot of confidence.”