Welcome to the Top Gear Specials
- Jeremy tests the new Porsche 911 Turbo
- Richard finds Britain’s biggest car bore
- James drives the blokiest convertible of them all – the Triumph TR6
- Challenge: Can the Ford Rally Team change a cars entire driveline faster than a group of girls can get ready for a night out?
- Jeremy power tests the Renault Clio V6
- Ann Robinson is the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car
Jeremy opens tonight’s episode, in what he admits is “all about bloke-ishness”. He continues, “You know the sort of thing – we won’t ask directions, we won’t read instruction manuals. We have a sound recordist who rolled up on a shoot the other day with the front of his car stoved in. Said he’d been on the M6 in a queue of slow moving traffic and he was a bit bored, so he wondered would it be possible to drive with your legs crossed. Now no woman would ever do that! And it’s much the same story with understeer and oversteer – I’ve never had a letter from a girl saying what’s the difference? But, we’ve had loads of letters from blokes asking.” Jeremy hands things over to Richard to explain the difference.
Richard explains that understeer is when “You drive down the road and turn the wheel but the car goes straight on, crashes into a tree and you die.” He then continues, “Oversteer works like this, you drive down the same bit of road, turn the wheel but the back of the car comes around and you go off the road, crash into a tree and you die.” Richard suggests oversteer is best because “You don’t see the tree that kills you.”
Jeremy kicks off the next segment with the new Porsche 911 Turbo, a car which you never knew if it was going to understeer or oversteer, due to it’s rear mounted flat 6 engine. Jeremy thinks that if women ran Porsche, they would have simply moved the engine to fix the problem – but because men run Porsche, they’ve spent the last 40 years stubbornly trying to engineer their way around the problem. Jeremy admits they have cracked it and that the modern 911 Turbo has one of the best handling chassis around. The segment finishes abruptly and James insists there is one more bit of footage that was not shown – Jeremy spinning out at high speed. Jeremy goes on to say the 911 lulls you into a false sense of security, and that just when you’ve gotten comfortable and complacent with it, it’ll kill you. The Stig takes the 911 turbo for a lap on a soaking wet track and returns a time of 1:31.00. Jeremy also shows us the “diet 911″, the 911 C4S. The C4S looks the same as the 911 Turbo, the same excellent chassis and four-wheel drive system, the same brakes and the same sports suspension. The only difference is the C4S is not turbocharged – dropping the power from 420bhp down to 320bhp. But Jeremy suggests it’s still more than fast enough, and that it offers all the looks of the 911 turbo, without the high price tag and the murderous tendencies that the turbo model has.
Richard moves on with their search to find Britain’s biggest car bore – a lot of the letters they received were very good, however there was one that was outstanding. We meet a bloke called Robert, a man who has been building a car in the kitchen inside his house. Robert explains how it happened, “Well, I started to design it there, I sketched it out on a piece of cardboard on the floor. Then the metal got laid on that.. a few bits got welded up and one thing led to another.” The car rather looks like a buggy, and Robert says it’s to be used for drag racing, sprints and hill climbs, plus some speed record attempts. Robert starts the car up and the exhaust blows some of the skirting board off. The main problem is however, is that the car is now too big to get out of the house – Robert hires a handheld circular saw and cuts a piece of the wall out, in order to get the car out. Back in the studio, Jeremy is curious to know if there was a wife involved in all of this. Richard continues, “There was, but unlike the car, the wife did fit through the door quite nicely.”
Jeremy introduces Ann Robinson as the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car. Ann laps a bone-dry track with a time of 1.57.00.
In the news, Jeremy shows us the new Ford Mondeo.. which looks surprisingly similar to the old Mondeo, despite having 1500 new parts. Richard mentions a service that Vauxhall is offering, free 48hour test-drives on the new Vectra – and hands out the phone number you can call to get one. James gives us a run down on some of the amazingly expensive options available on the Volvo XC90. Richard talks about Volvo’s new protection alarm and James shows us some cars with metal folding roofs. Jeremy suggests a man can’t drive a convertible because everyone will see his bald patch or his gut. James interrupts him; “I hate to interrupt but this is quite honestly the biggest load of limp wristed twaddle I’ve ever heard in all my 5 weeks in television. These two are not men – Richard Hammond every morning sticks his head in a bucket of hair product. He’s got a dog but it’s a poodle – and I don’t know what you’re laughing about Clarkson, because you won’t drink brown beer. And this is the man who says “Flatulence, oh it’s not funny” when clearly it is. I am actually the only proper bloke on this programme, I live in a tumbled down house full of old motorbikes, and I think a bloke can drive a convertible, BUT, it has to be the right one.”
The next segment has James out on a miserably wet day driving an old Triumph TR6 – on what he calls “The perfect day for a British sports car.” James thinks it’s one of the blokeiest convertibles ever made. James continues, “What a square head. Look at it – blunt at both ends, thick set.. I reckon if this car went to the lavatory, it’d leave the seat up.” The engine too is a naked straight six with no colour matched caps or the like. James calls on all males to throw away their grooming products and for them to buy a TR6 – and that he sees modern manhood for what it really should be.
Back in the studio, James introduces Insider Dealing, where he mentions it’ll cost at least £10,000 for a good TR6. Relevant deals for various cars are also presented.
Richard moves on with a challenge – could the Ford Rally Team change all the mechanical components on their car in less time than it took a group of women to get ready for a night out. The Ford Rally teams change the entire driveline of the car and drive it away, while the girls are still inside debating shoes. Richard says they ended up packing up all their gear and leaving before the girls had finished.
Jeremy introduces us to the new Renault Clio V6 with a track test. The Clio has a 3.0L V6 mounted in the middle, where the rear seats would usually be. There’s no room in the boot for shopping either. Jeremy goes on, “This is such a blokes car! You start with a practical sensible family hatch back and then fill it full of engine. Who cares that you have to put the baby under the bonnet.” The Clio V6 appears to be terribly impractical on all accounts and the list of equipment seems fairly basic for the £27,000 price tag. Jeremy rationalizes it all though, “This is as mid-engined as a super car, it sounds like a super car, it goes like a super car, so on that basis it becomes the bargain of the century. It’ll do 155mph and out-accelerate the Porsche C4S we looked at earlier. I think it’s fantastic.” Jeremy’s only doubt is that it’ll still be savage once you exceed the limit of grip the Clio has, just like the older models. The Clio understeers as it gets close to the limit, then snaps into oversteer and even a spin once you exceed it. Jeremy suggests the problem is that “It’s French, it’s a surrender monkey. If you show it a difficult corner, it just sort of gives in – sits in a cloud of it’s own smoke with its hands up.” The Stig takes the Clio V6 for a lap around the soaking wet track but manages a respectable 1.36.20 – exactly the same time as an Aston Martin Vanquish in the same conditions.
Star in a reasonably priced car
- Ann Robinson – 1:57:00
- The history of Jaguar; C-Type & Mark 2
- Jeremy reviews the new Jaguar XJR
- Insider Dealing with James May
- Jeremy tests the Jaguar XKRR against the Aston Martin DB7 GT
- Boris Johnson is the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car
In a decidedly “Jag” themed episode, Jeremy opens the show with the Jaguar R Coupe concept car. The R Coupe is a car that’s meant to show the world where Jaguar is going, but to start off we join James to see where they came from. The Stig and James are out and about on the track in a Jaguar C-Type racing car. The C-Type was the first car ever to lap the Le Mans circuit with an average speed of over 100mph. Richard then introduces us to the Jaguar Mark 2, a car that was glamorous enough for David Bailey yet gentile enough for Inspector Morse.. and still fast enough for London’s villains. One thing that helped the Mark 2 create such a big impact were disc brakes – the same brakes that helped them to victory at Le Mans. They stopped the car so quickly that Jaguar had to fit a warning badge on the rear bumper. In 1959 the Jaguar was in a league of its own – against the Mercedes 220 or the BMW 2000 it was a walk over. The 3.8L could hit 60mph in 8.5 seconds – faster than most supercars of the day and even some modern S-Type Jaguars from today. The Mark 2 remained in production until 1968 – by which time Jaguar had been taken over by British Leyland.
Back in the studio for the news, Jeremy talks about next year’s Vauxhall Astra. Richard shows us a £3643 optional stripe you can get on a Ferrari 360 CS. Richard discusses a reliability study which has just been released – for reliability it rates Mazda first, second is Ford, but in third place… Fiat. The boys cast doubt on how trustable the results of the survey are. James shows us the brochure for a Car Park opening he was invited to. Curiously enough they don’t seem to provide parking for people attending. Richard continues his search for rubbish cars, and shows a few photos that people have sent in.
Boris Johnson is introduced as the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car. Boris laps the test track in the dry and returns a 1.56 second time.
Richard moves onto the new Jaguar XJ. While it may look identical to the old model, it’s actually bigger – adding legroom for back passengers and extra space in the boot. Despite being larger, it’s actually 200kg lighter than the old model, due to the body panels being made of aluminium. Jeremy takes the XJR out on a motorway run to see if it has retained its Jaguar’ness. Because Jaguars are supposed to ease the stress of its occupants, Jeremy thought he would take the XJR for a drive and see how far he could go before becoming bored, tired and irritable. Despite irritations typically associated with a peak hour on a motorway, Jeremy remains calm and collected. After breaking free of Birmingham, Jeremy gets caught up with the supercharged’ness of the XJR before pulling off at Stafford services to fill up with petrol. Jeremy continues through Cheshire and through the Lake District while eating an assortment of chocolate bars – he’d been on the road for over 6 hours now and was still feeling fine. Jeremy hits the A-roads near Glasgow and finds out the Jag is fantastic on a curvy road. By nightfall the XJR had taken Jeremy all the way to John O’ Groats – he’d run out of British Isles… he turns around and drives back. Back in the studio, Jeremy’s verdict on the XJR is that it’s fantastic and good value for money. On the Cool Wall – the Jaguar XJR is placed in ‘Cool’, bordering on ‘Sub Zero’.
James May presents Insider Dealing, with some relevant deals on the Jaguar XJR and other new cars.
Jeremy moves on with the Jaguar XKRR, a lowered version of the XK with racing seats and seatbelts, racing tyres and uprated exhausts. While it may only be a concept car, it actually works. Jeremy takes it to the test track to see what’s what. The XKRR has a manual gearbox and a limited slip differential, allowing the car to easily power slide, where the old XK would simply spin. While Jeremy loves the car, he explains Jaguar can’t put it into production – due to Jaguar’s sister company, Aston Martin. The XKRR would steal the limelight from the new Aston DB7 GT. Jeremy swaps cars and sees how it stacks up. The DB7 GT has a rather cramped interior, due to it actually being based on an old Jaguar XJS – a 13 year old car. The DB7 will set you back £104,000. Despite the aging chassis and old body shape, Jeremy says the DB7 is “amazing”, going on to say all the little changes Aston made to the suspension has actually added up to make a big difference. The 6.0L V12 is also more powerful than the older model – Jeremy demonstrates this by stopping the car, then setting off in 4th gear from stand still without a judder. The DB7 can do 0 – 135mph in a single gear. Jeremy sums it all up, “For the last few years the DB7 has been an aging rocker, still trying to cut it in a Cold Play MP3 world of Porsche 911’s and Foo Fighter Ferrari’s. But now, thanks to a cocktail of botox and viagra it’s up there with the best of them.”
Back in the studio, we watch the Stig do a lap of the track in the DB7 – it manages a 1.30.4 second lap.
Star in a reasonably priced car
- Boris Johnson – 1:56:00
- Jeremy reviews the Volkswagen Touareg
- Richard tests the Lexus SC430 and Hyundai S-Coupe
- James May presents Insider Dealing
- Richard finds out which country makes the fastest supercar
- James reviews the Perodula Kelisa – Britain’s cheapest new car
- Jeremy tests the Alpina Z8
- David Soul is the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car
This episode marks the week in which the Porsche Cayenne went on sale in Britain. Rather than Jeremy reviewing it like everyone would have expected, he has decided to test the Volkswagen Touareg instead. The Touareg sets itself apart from soft-roaders such as the Porsche Cayenne simply because VW has designed it to be capable even when taken off the tarmac – it features locking differentials, skid plates and a low range gearbox. The Touareg comes with a variety of engines, a 3.2L V6, a 4.2L V8 or in the case of the test car, a turbocharged 5L V10 diesel. Whilst sitting on the trunk of a felled tree being pulled behind the Touareg Jeremy says, “So if you run a business specialising in the removal of enormous trees from inaccessible forests, plainly the V10 Touareg is ideal”. Despite the sheer pulling power of the V10 engine, it weighs around 300kg more than the 3.2L V6. It’ll struggle to do 19mpg and the weight of the engine over the nose ruins the handling. To add to these handling problems, Jeremy likens the suspension (in sport mode) to sitting on a gravel-sifting machine – and don’t think setting it back to “comfort” will fix it either, as it turns the car into a wallowing mess. Jeremy also aims criticism at the gearbox, exterior styling and very uncomfortable seats, plus the dash mounted phone holder which looks like an afterthought. Bearing these points in mind, the £50,000 price tag also comes across as being excessive. Back in the studio Jeremy reveals he later drove a petrol engined Touareg and that it was marginally better – but still maintains the Porsche Cayenne or BMW X5 would be a better buy.
Richard and James move on to the topic of “Bad Cars”. After some discussion, the boys all write down what they think is the absolute worst car on sale today. All 3 apparently chose the Lexus SC430 – a car which fails to pass any of the basic rules of sports car design – good exterior & interior styling, good handling and a good ride. Quite incredible really, considering Lexus had a massive budget available when developing the SC430. Richard then moves on to do a mini review on one. When launched the car came with run flat tyres which made for a hard ride – so much so that soon after, Lexus opted for regular tyres and softened the suspension.. but not enough. It ends up being a dreadful compromise – not hard and communicative enough to be sporty, and certainly not comfortable enough to be a relaxed cruiser. Richard compliments the 282bhp engine but it will never make up for the poorly designed folding roof and useless rear seat space. Richard suggests that almost any company could make a good sports car if they stick to the basic rules of sports car design – like Hyundai did with the S-Coupe. The interior may be outdated and low-rent, but the exterior styling is fantastic – Richard even suggests it looks remotely like a Ferrari. The chassis feels tight and sharp, egging the driver on to drive quicker. The 2.7L V6 only produces 165bhp but is fed through a 6-speed manual gearbox so the sound of a lovely exhaust note. For £18,500 Richard says it’s a bargain.
Moving on to the news, Jeremy mentions the Citroen Saxo has gone out of production – and has been replaced with the Citroen C2. Richard mentions the Porsche Carrera Cup Great Britain, and that Porsche are producing a road going version of the car used in the championship – the 911 GT3. Richard also introduces the Carrera GT. James shows us the Bristol Fighter – a 2-door gull wing car that can do 210mph. Jeremy brings up an image of a Jaguar that has been modified by its owner very horribly, and then begins to wonder just what is the worst modified car in Britain.
James presents Insider Dealing with some relevant deals on new cars, due to oversupply.
The Eurovision song contest took place the night before, and because of this Richard has decided to hold a battle of the nations all of their own – which country makes the fastest supercar? The contestants are; Germany – Porsche 911 Turbo; Japan – Honda NSX; USA – Chevrolet Corvette; France – Venturi; Italy – Ferrari 360; And representing the UK, Top Gear’s tatty stripped out Jaguar XJS. In a straight drag race, The Porsche 911 Turbo won it, the Ferrari 360 came second, followed by the Honda NSX. The Jag came dead last with a ¼ mile time of 18.5 seconds. Later in the episode, the Jag is brought back for a re-match. This time it is fitted with a 200bhp shot of nitrous oxide, making a total of 500bhp. The Jaguar wins the drag race, just holding off the Porsche 911 Turbo as they reach the finish line.
Jeremy introduces David Soul as the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car. David laps a dry track in 1.54.
James is out driving the new Perodua Kelisa, a cheap as chips car made in a jungle clearing in Malaysia. It’s yours from £5000. James suggests the simplicity of the car and the fact it makes no false promises, means it’s good simple fun. The Kelisa has decent equipment and James loves the way it drives – saying there’s a sense that there is not very much between you and the road. He continues, “I actually like this, it’s a bit of a laugh. It’s essence of driving. No garnish.” James also comments that it’s the nearest thing he has driven, to the original Mini.
Jeremy moves on to the BMW Z8 – a car which BMW managed to mess up, even though they had the best brains in the business, a wonderful looking body and the engine from an M5 – and yet it turned out to be awful. Jeremy likens the handling to a Scania bin lorry that he is driving out on the track. Jeremy thinks it’s because BMW didn’t know what they wanted the Z8 to be. “Sports car, muscle car, boulevard cruiser.. and it’s ended up as a sort of a browny-green mush of all three.” BMW have announced they are going to stop making it – but this hasn’t stopped Alpina from trying to make a better version of it. The Alpina Z8 has a blue suede interior and replaced the 5.0L engine with their own 4.8L unit, which has less power. The 6-speed manual was also removed and replaced with a 5-speed automatic, and the suspension has been softened. What Alpina has tried to do is focus the Z8, trying to turn it into a cruising machine. The ride and handling are as bad as ever though. Jeremy continues, “Getting it round a corner is like trying to get a wardrobe up a fire escape.. it’s very hard work.” Jeremy struggles to find the difference between the way the Alpina Z8 drives, compared to the original. Back in the studio, Jeremy shows a lap of the Stig taking the Z8 for a lap. On a dry track, it returned a lap time of 1.29.