Despite its name, the Goodwood Festival of Speed isn’t simply devoted to the fastest cars in the world.
Oh, wait. Yeah it is.
For 2017, the annual hillclimb and car show brought even more historic automobiles to the Goodwood House, ranging from influential classics to today’s high-powered juggernauts. Among the latter, Porsche debuted the new GT2 RS, setting the bar as the most extreme 911 ever and continuing a lineage that has spanned decades. And who knows? The GT2 may be remembered decades from now if it settles itself in as a sought-after classic, just like its predecessors did.
The second run of the GT2 RS is more of the same, but more of more of the same. It follows the formula of the 997 which boasted a super-powerful turbocharged flat-six powering the rear wheels, but this one digs deeper for an extra 80 horsepower resulting in a nice, round 700. Seven hundred! If that sounds like it’s nearly double what a standard Carrera offers today, that’s because it’s nearly double what a standard Carrera offers today. Absurd testing figures will surely follow, though it already claims a 2.7-second 0-60 time even without power to all four wheels thanks to its PDK transmission.
The RS exhibits a clear focus on track performance and almost literally nothing else, but many buyers will want the best of both worlds. 700-plus horsepower, sizzling lap times and something easy enough to live with everyday seems like a tall order, but McLaren has gone for it anyway.
McLaren’s highly-praised new 720S had not yet publicly shown its face in the UK, leaving the Festival of Speed as the opportune time to do so. The fine group from Woking made waves by not just simply bringing the 720S, but showcasing the breadth of personalization options for it. The demonstrator was finished in an newly-mixed and wildly vibrant Paris Blue, with the display model going even further up the MSO ladder, showcasing a delectable red carbon finish.
But MSO was not needed to shine light on the newest lineup addition. The long-awaited 570S Spider broke cover at Goodwood, bringing on a new challenger in the sports car convertible segment, one featuring innovations never before seen in the most accessible convertible market for McLaren. The premiere open-top variant of the Sports Series heightens the 570’s drama but maintains the refinement and performance that put it in a league of its own to begin with.
Another line-up refresher came from Maserati, as the aging GranTurismo was given a boost, but in a different sense than most performance cars these days. It is still offered with a gloriously-loud naturally-aspirated Ferrari V8 which is now bumped up a bit in the power department.
The changes came mostly aesthetically, with new front and rear bumpers making the distinctions and marginally improving aerodynamics. New Pirelli P-Zero tires come with better grip and mileage as well, so from the ground up – literally – the 2018 GranTurismo scores just a bit better than its predecessor in every respect.
But the change that most drivers will come to appreciate, more so than a few extra horsepower or updated design, is the new infotainment system that brings the GranTurismo back into line with the brand’s more modern offerings. The familiar center dashboard has been gutted to make room for an 8.4-inch touch screen display, with entertainment, navigation and a newly-installed backup camera all being presented in high resolution. The climate settings and driving modes have been relocated to intuitive locations around the console as well.
While none of the brands above created something we had never seen before, it’s imperative for each to maintain their image while advancing for the sake of competition. Whether that competition is on the track or everyday on the roads, these distinguished offerings make for the most desirable choices of 2017.