Tech and Science

The most exciting electric cars due soon

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The Goodwood Festival of Speed is a noisy event.

Loud cars and motorcycles galore race up the rising road on the Duke of Richmond’s estate in the south of England and daylight fireworks often boom and crackle above the track, though never while the RAF’s Red Arrows aerobatic display team is flying low overhead.

But there are moments of near silence, too.

EVs make up a growing proportion of the machinery displayed at this now 30-year-old annual event. They’re not completely quiet, though the squeal of tyres and whine of electric motors is faint compared to the piercing wail from the exhaust pipes of some exotic race car.

Even so, EVs delivered lots of excitement at the 2023 Festival of Speed. Not always for the right reason, though.

The most memorable moment of the first day of the event came when a Hyundai RN22e prototype ran off at Molecomb Corner. The explosion of the haybale barrier it ploughed into at high speed was truly spectacular. No-one was injured.

The RN22e is basically a preview of the Ioniq 6 N EV from Hyundai’s high-performance N division. The Korean brand also revealed the exterior design and technical specifications of its Ioniq 5 N for the first time at Goodwood. It’s due to go on sale in Australia sometime in the first half of next year.

With its focus firmly on speed, excitement and entertainment, Goodwood is becoming a natural arena for car makers large and small to showcase fast EVs.

It’s a place where pace can be displayed before an enthusiastic audience totalling more than 200,000 over four days.

As well as Hyundai, MG, Renault, Mini, Polestar and Porsche all brought high-performance EVs to the Festival of Speed. So, too, did some other brands, mostly Chinese, which are intending to enter the rapidly expanding Australian EV market.

Many of the biggest temporary show stands erected on Goodwood’s extensive grounds wore the logos of car makers.

Chinese brand MG displayed the high-power version of its new 4 hatchback, the XPower. The MG 4 recently launched in Australia with a sub-$40,000 price tag.

The new MG 4 XPower goes on sale in the UK in weeks, wearing a price tag equivalent to $70,000. Equipped with dual electric motors instead of the basic 4’s single rear motor, the XPower has almost double the power and acceleration to rival much more costly petrol-powered hot hatches from premium European brands.

MG also brought its Cyberster sports car to Goodwood. Due out next year, this two-seat convertible will be produced in single-motor and dual-motor versions. The less costly rear-drive Cyberster will cost the equivalent of about $110,000 in the UK, while the dual-motor will be about $125,000.

Renault’s performance car sub-brand Alpine brought its A290 to Goodwood. Based on the new Renault 5 small EV which goes into production next year, it’s a good looking Euro-style hot hatch that’s headed for production.

Mini previewed a coming, wagon-like addition to its EV line-up in the form of the Aceman concept.

Swedish-based but Chinese-owned EV specialist Polestar displayed its new 3, due in Australia next year, and 6 Concept convertible that’s headed for production in the near future. Polestar also brought camo-clad prototypes of its big new 5 sedan to Goodwood for a tyre-smoking run up the hill.

Porsche celebrated its 75th anniversary at the Festival of Speed, where seemingly everything from its museum was driven at race pace. But the iconic German sports car maker also showed its Mission X concept.

This dramatic two-seat rear-drive sports car previews a potential EV successor to petrol-powered supercars from the company’s past, such as the Carrera GT and 918 Spyder.

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