Welcome to the Top Gear Specials
- Jeremy road tests the Nissan 350Z
- Richard and James compare the Citroen C3 Pluriel, Mercedes CLK500, Audi A4 & Daihatsu Copen
- Jeremy sets out to find the fastest Master of the Universe
- Jeremy power tests the Alfa Romeo 147 GTA
- Jodie Kidd is the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car
Review: Jeremy Clarkson drives a Nissan 350Z over city and country roads. He gives it a grade of C minus, 3 out of 10, and “could do better.” After a day’s drive, he declares it to be one of the most exhausting cars he has ever come across. He also criticises its build quality and engine tone. In series 3, it is announced that the Nissan did a 1:31.8 lap on the track, the same as rival coupe Mazda RX-8.
Review: Alfa Romeo 147 GTA. Jeremy drives it in a drag race against the Volkswagen Golf R32 and the Ford Focus RS. The Alfa wins easily with its superior power. However, the Alfa doesn’t have 4WD or a differential, and Clarkson says the chassis is “very, very wobbly and loose.” He calls the Alfa “insane” and says “you’d have to be insane to buy one.” He recommends one of the other two, probably the Golf, for the real world, but admits he still preferred the Alfa. The Stig then drives the Alfa to a lap time of 1:35.6, which puts it slower than both the Focus and R32.
Challenge: A “race for the universe” in a Honda Civic Type R, the results were as follows;
6: Daleks (from Doctor Who) – DNF
5: Ming the Merciless (from Flash Gordon) – 1:49
4: The Sixth Doctor (Colin Baker) – 1:43
3: Klingon (from Star Trek) – 1:42
2: Darth Vader – 1:37
1: Cyberman (from Doctor Who) (Time not announced)
Star In A Reasonably-Priced Car: Jodie Kidd who talked about her love of horses and the Gumball 3000 rally, she came in at 1:47.7, 0.4 of a second faster than board leader Jay Kay.
Review: James and Richard went on a camping holiday in the Lake District and reviewed new cabriolets such as the Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet, Mercedes-Benz CLK500 convertible, Audi A4 cabriolet, Citroën C3 Pluriel, and Daihatsu Copen. The Beetle is sloppy to drive, and increasingly unstylish, so none of the presenters like it. James and Richard unite in disapproval with the CLK, The Pluriel is a nice idea poorly executed but in the end they find the Audi to be the best, with only James taking the Copen seriously.
Star in a reasonably priced car
- Jodie Kidd – 1:47:7
In Top Gear Season 2, Episode 7 we see:
- Jeremy power tests the Koenigsegg CC8S
- Richard shows us a crash test of a Renault Megane with a real driver
- Jeremy drives a Hummer H1 and then the new Hummer H2
- Neil Morrisey is the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car
- Neil Morrisey – 1:49:00
Review: Clarkson tested the Koenigsegg CC8S which, with a top speed of 242 mph (389 km/h) was at the time the world’s fastest production car. Clarkson did a speed run on the test track. The record of 170 mph (274 km/h) set by the Pagani Zonda was broken, with the Koenigsegg managing 174 mph (280 km/h). Clarkson later commented how he felt nervous before the run because engineers from Koenigsegg had asked him if they could put gaffer tape around the windscreen; he thought that the tape was to keep the windscreen from flying off. The Stig drives the Koenigsegg to a lap time of 1:23.9, which is just one-tenth of a second slower than the Zonda. Jeremy has frequently referred to the Ford Modular engine in the Ford Mustang as a “terrible engine” but declined to mention that the Koenigsegg’s engine was a modified 4.6 L Modular V8.
Car Safety: Hammond test drives the new Renault Mégane in London and then brings it to the Top Gear test track where they simulate a crash test with a real driver. The car survives its impact very well. Back in the hangar, Richard and Jeremy look at how other cars perform in crashes. Surprisingly, the Ford Fiesta survives better than the Land Rover Freelander. They then proceed to look up crash test ratings for the cars of audience members.
Star In A Reasonably-Priced Car: Jeremy has little to talk to Neil Morrissey about, as they were on the same Parkinson episode. Morrisey gets 1:49 —1 second faster than Jeremy.
Review: Jeremy reviews the Hummer H1, saying its too big and clumsy for English villages. He then looks at the H2 and says its “immensely good”. Though based on a Chevrolet Tahoe platform, it has a manly, chunky interior and tons of space, exciting Jeremy in a way similar to the Range Rover. Neither of the other presenters are impressed.
Review: Richard drives a Talon riot control vehicle. He uses a water cannon to put out a fire and then runs over a Portakabin at full speed.
Star in a reasonably priced car
- Jeremy road tests the Subaru Impreza WRX STI & Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII
- Richard compares a group of “Track Day” cars
- James organises an attempt to beat the Land Speed record for caravan towing
- Jeremy power tests the Vauxhall VX220 Turbo
- Richard Whiteley is the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car
Jeremy starts the episode by looking at the latest Subaru Impreza & Mitsubishi Evo 8 – cars which only older people can afford to own and insure. To compare them, Jeremy takes them to the “Best driving country in the World” – Scotland. Both cars were born from the world of Rallying and in the real world with bumps and hedges, they’re often faster than Porsche’s and Ferrari’s. Subaru have improved the styling from the old bug-eyed model, quickened up the steering and fitted tougher suspension. Jeremy continues “They’ve made it harder, edgier. Less of a car, more of a bar room brawler.” The Evo 8 on the other hand, has been toned down a bit compared to the old “Mafia Hitman” Evo 7. It seems then that both cars have met in the middle.Jeremy looks at the Subaru in more detail. Jeremy is impressed by the sheer level of grip the Impreza has and describes the car as a “hugely manly experience”. “The noise it makes.. it’s got a macho gearbox, it’s got macho steering. It even smells of man.. the essence of.. burnt clutch. Splash it on all over before going out at night for a curry, and a fight.” Jeremy looks at the Evo next. He describes it as being more of a technical car, with an active centre differential which shuffles the power from front to back depending on how much grip is available. It also has ‘Super active yaw control’, which can also move power from side to side – when you combine the two technologies, it is possible for the Evo 8 to become one wheel drive when pushing the car hard through a corner – as the car shifts the power to the weighted outside rear wheel.
Both cars have similar power and performance – 150 mph top speeds and 0-60 mph times of under 5 seconds. They can’t be split on looks either, both are shamelessly aggressive. Jeremy points out the Impreza’s massive bonnet scoop and the Evo’s “bursting out of the bodywork” looks, and decides to rename them – “You know what these cars should be called, the “Mitsubishi Did you spill my pint” and the “Subaru You, Outside, Now.” Jeremy can’t decide which one is best, and therefore leaves it up to the Stig. The Evo 8 ends up being over a second quicker around the track, but despite this, Jeremy and Richard both agree that they would buy the Subaru – for reasons they can’t work out.
Next up, Richard goes to a track day at Bedford Autodrome to try out the new Peugeot 206 GTI. All over the country, people are queuing up to come to these ‘run what you’ve brung’ track days. Richard takes to the track in the 206 GTI – and finds it to be well balanced and with plenty of grip on offer. The 206 can manage 0-60 mph in 7.1 seconds and wind itself up to a top speed of 142 mph. The 206 however is a civilised roadcar and Richard quickly finds out that he is being beaten by pretty much every other car on the track. Richard therefore steps into a Palmer Jaguar JP1 – a car designed for track work, and hits the track again. The JP1 uses a 3.0 V6 out of the Jaguar X-Type and produces 300bhp – a lot for a car which only weighs 600kg. Richard hits 130 mph down the straight and begins to push it harder through the corners – eventually getting a bit overconfident and spinning out.
Back in the studio, Jeremy reveals that the Palmer Jaguar JP1 costs £47,000 – which is a lot.Richard introduces us to some cheaper alternatives – the Caterham R400, Ariel Atom 2, Radical SR3, Westfield XTR2 and Lotus Elise Sport 190. The Stig takes each for a lap of the track to compare them. The Radical SR3 ends up being the fastest (full times listed below).
In the news, Jeremy talks about poor advertising slogans and shows us an ad he saw for the new Lexus RX300 – with a slogan of “It changes everything.” Richard announces that Jaguar has decided to start putting Diesel engines into their cars. Jeremy talks about road pricing, James mentions two British boffins who have been designing an electric car.
James then moves on to the problem of Caravaners clogging up our roads. James decides to speed one up a bit, by trying to beat the speed record for towing a caravan – which currently stands at 128.86 mph. Bentwaters airforce base is the location for the attempt – by towing a caravan behind a 771 bhp Mitsubishi Evo 7 down the 1.7 mile runway. In the first run, the Evo 7 hits 124.9 mph and it results in a blow out of one of the caravan’s windows. Later in the show, the second attempt is shown – the Evo reaches 125.2 mph before it starts belching oil and smoke. At the end of the show, the caravan is later dropped from a crane in order to get the level of speed they were after.
Back in the studio, Jeremy introduces Richard Whiteley as the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car. Richard laps an incredibly slow 2:06 on a dry track.
The Cool Wall is featured, with Richard putting the Mercedes SL55 AMG in ‘Uncool’, Jeremy then puts Richard’s Porsche 911 in ‘Uncool’. The Mitsubishi Evo 8 and Subaru Impreza are both put on the border between ‘Cool & ‘Uncool’. The Peugeot 206 GTI gets put in ‘Cool’ by Richard, before he and Jeremy get into a fight.
James presents Insider Dealing with some great deals on some good used cars from this time period.
In the final segment, Jeremy power tests the new Vauxhall VX220 Turbo. The VX220 is based on the Lotus Elise, but Vauxhall have done there best to make it better – by giving it a leather interior and extra sound proofing to make it more refined. Just like the Elise, Jeremy struggles to get into it – a job made easier by removing the roof first. The VX220 turbo produces 200 bhp – but Jeremy describes it as being “hugely fast” thanks to it’s light kerb weight. The 0-60 mph time is just 4 seconds and it keeps on pushing all the way up to 150 mph. Jeremy also thinks the VX220 handles better than the Elise – being a bit more oversteery rather than understeery. He goes on to say “There’s only one thing that’s going to get me off this racetrack today, and that’s when it runs out of fuel – and that’s the first time I’ve ever thought that, while behind the wheel of a Vauxhall.” Jeremy calls it the “Sportscar of the moment” before the Stig takes it for a lap – returning a time of 1:31.30.
Star in a reasonably priced car
- Richard Whiteley – 2:06:00