‘Okay, light them up!’ Queue to drive up the famous Goodwood hill at the Festival of Speed and, just before the start line, you’ll find yourself in the tyre-warming area. Great if you’re in a rear-wheel drive car. Not so great if you’re in the four-wheel drive Nissan GT-R. The marshall clearly doesn’t understand and clearly thinks I’m a pussy as I accelerate away towards the start with a pathetic chirrup.
A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to be asked to drive at Goodwood. Problem was, I’d never driven the hill before. Cue numerous YouTube sessions trying to memorise the track: right, right, BIG left, WALL, right, left, finish.
What it’s like to drive up the hill
Trouble is, once I’ve left the start line my mind empties. The GT-R launches hard, firing forwards and squatting over the rear wheels. Where was the wall? Is it right? Or…LEFT! The road is narrow, covered in dust and those hay bales feel a hell of a lot closer than they did on YouTube.
I’d love to say I charged up the hill in record time, a soupcon of opposite lock through the corners. But I didn’t. I played it safe and kicked myself afterwards for not giving it more beans.
The Nissan GT-R revisited
This, though, was my second acquaintance with the GT-R since we pitched it against the 911 Turbo earlier in the year. Glad to say, it still feels amazing. This car has an incredibly fluid flow, the gearchanges seamless, the deep reserves of power instantly tapping into your adrenaline – you know this is a very quick machine as soon as you prod the accelerator.
The GT-R’s chassis also has a very graceful flow, the steering is light but very direct and the brakes reassuringly meaty. The GT-R’s laser-guided accuracy suits this road better than I remember it suiting Rockingham’s vast expanses, strangely.
And what a huge privilege to drive it up this iconic hill. The GT-R, along with a very serious collection of motorsport classics, F1 cars and exotic production cars will be at Goodwood all weekend. If you can, get along to see the action.
Click here to visit our 2008 Goodwood Festival of Speed homepage