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Top Gear Season 2, Episode 2

  • Jeremy takes the new Rolls Royce Phantom to Hull
  • Richard attempts to find Britain’s Fastest Political Party
  • Richard drives the Rover P5
  • James presents Insider Trading
  • Jeremy compares the BMW M3 & Audi S4
  • Jamie Oliver is the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car

Episode 2 opens with a bit of a luxury theme going on, with several items in the studio including a drinks globe, an onyx coffee table and the new Rolls Royce Phantom. Jeremy then takes the Phantom to Hull for a road test.

Everything about the Phantom is vast, from its sheer size to its huge wheels, not to mention the 6.7L V12 engine. Despite the massive engine, it’ll still manage 18mpg and it’s much more quiet and easier to drive than Rolls Royce’s of old. The Phantom is an old fashioned approach to luxury motoring – a very subtle and classy cabin featuring simplistic button layouts and a gearbox featuring 3 selector points only; reverse, neutral and forward – something Jeremy rather likes. The rear suicide doors feature umbrellas built into them so you can quickly eject one as you exit the car. In the back seat the elegant leather work and aluminium, together with the art deco lighting make it a lovely place to be. However it turns out it’s actually much more fun to drive the car, rather than just being a passenger. 0-60mph is dispatched in only 5.7 seconds and a top speed of 150mph means it’s fast compared to all types of cars – it also takes corners quite well considering what it is. Jeremy compares the Phantom to the Humber Bridge – for 17 years it was the longest suspension bridge in the world. A bridge with enough steel cabling to go around the earth twice – and it was British steel – British designed, engineered and built with British money. So Jeremy wonders then why the Phantom’s engine is manufactured in Germany, along with the gearbox, suspension, brakes and the body panels – even the leather comes from a herd of German cows… all the British do is nail all the pieces together. Jeremy loves the Phantom and says it’s a fantastic car, however he wishes it could be more like the Humber Bridge… “Something we could be proud of”.

Richard brings us back to the Cool Wall – where the Phantom is placed in “Uncool”. The Ferrari Enzo is “Uncool”, while the Audi A3 ends up being “Uncool” after Jeremy tried to argue the point of it being “Cool”, but lost to Richard.

Richard then moves on to find Britain’s Fastest Political Party. Representatives from the Legalise Cannabis Alliance, Monster Raving Loony party, Green Party, Liberal Democrat Party, the Labor Party and the Tory Party. They will be competing to do the fastest lap of the Top Gear test track, using an MG ZR racecar. The Liberal Democrats won the event with a 1:33.90, the Legalise Cannabis Alliance came second (1:36.50), and the Labor Party came third (1:38.80)

In the news, Jeremy mentions the “enormous blue bus lane” which is running through the center of London, or as its otherwise known “The Thames”. Jeremy suggests buses should be made amphibious in order to get them off the roads. Richard talks about “motor flirting”, which is a new service to aid flirting with other drivers via mobile phone text messages while sitting in traffic jams. James mentions the new BMW M5, while Jeremy introduces the new Lexus RX300, which features a driver’s knee airbags. The new Daihatsu Charade for £5995 is shown, which the boys love.

Richard goes back to the luxury theme, with the Rover P5. The Queen used to have a Rover P5 coupe – which is the very car Richard is driving. While not quite as luxurious as a Rolls from the same era, but still featured is the “Holy Trinity” of leather, wood and shag pile carpet. The car was also quite modern too, utilizing a monocock chassis and after 1967, gained the new 3.5L Rover V8. It represents a good used buy too – with good examples of the model available for under £11,000. The Rover had innate luxury built into it, and was “as English as an oven glove with cats on it”.

Back in the studio, Jeremy introduces Jamie Oliver as the Star in a Reasonably Priced car. The Stig takes Jamie’s Volkswagen campervan (which is fitted with a 3.6L Porsche engine) for a lap of the track, whilst Jamie is in the back trying to prepare a salad.. he fails dismally. Jamie does a lap of the track in the Liana and manages a 1:50.

As James took over Jason Dawe’s old role on the show, he presents Insider Trading with good deals on soon to be superceded BMW 5 series models. Some good deals are also available on the Alfa Romeo GTV Spider and Citroen C5.

Jeremy moves onto the current performance yardstick – the BMW M3. A car which can be used everyday, but still set your trousers on fire when you take it to a track. The new Audi S4 has come along though, looking to steal its crown. Powered by Audi’s 4.2L V8, the S4 has four doors and four wheel drive. At £36,000 it’s £3,000 less than the M3, too. In a drag race, both cars are fairly evenly matched, with the BMW roughly 1 car length ahead at the end of the quarter mile. In the corners though, the Audi really shines with it’s four wheel drive – however Jeremy thinks it isn’t as much fun as the M3. He likens the Audi to a dinner party, and the BMW to a 2am Ibiza beach barbecue. Back in the studio, Jeremy concludes the Audi is better value, more practical and more grown up. Whereas the BMW is more of a hoot and quicker in a straight line. The Stig takes both cars out for a lap – the BMW M3 laps a 1:31.80 and the Audi S4 a 1:30.90. With those results in mind, Jeremy maintains he’d choose the Audi for everyday driving.

Star in a reasonably priced car

  • Jamie Oliver – 1:50:00

Top Gear Season 2, Episode 1

In Top Gear Season 2 Episode 1 we see

  • Jeremy drives the new Smart Roadster
  • Richard uses a jet-powered dragster to burn a Nissan Sunny, and later, a Caravan
  • James May is introduced, showing us the pitfalls of owning an old Bentley
  • Richard drives the Bowler Wildcat
  • Vinnie Jones is the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car

Jeremy opens the show with a video of what we can expect in Series 2. Afterwards he gets straight into small, affordable fun cars such as the Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet and Ford Street Ka. Both cars are lacking in style however the Smart Roadster may just do the trick – Jeremy takes it out for a road test.

Predominantly an accessory for people getting around the most fashionable areas of London, the Smart has to be able to prove it’s a proper sports car once you take it outside of the city limits. Powered by a 700cc 3-cylinder turbocharged engine, the Smart only produces 80bhp; Jeremy describes it as “Having exactly the same top speed of Henry the Eighth”. The Smart also has a 6 speed sequential gearbox – which sounds great in theory, however in execution the gearbox shifts between gears extremely slowly, as if it has several other tasks it had to do first before considering swapping cogs. As a sports car then, the Smart seems to miss the mark. On the plus side, it does feature a semi-soft top roof which slides back into a recess behind the seats, after which the side rails can be removed. Jeremy also maintains that the Smart feels much more alive than many more expensive cars, “I wanted to hate it, I wanted to laugh at it’s pathetic performance and call it a wet fraud, but it’s so responsive and such a giggle that it just puts an enormous smile on your face. It’s fantastic”. Smart cars are also made by Mercedes Benz so there should be no problems with the build quality. Back in the studio, Jeremy admits he wouldn’t buy one – mainly because the Smart Roadster lacks any decent boot space, and also because the right-hand drive model costs 1.5x more than the left-hand drive model available in Germany.

Moving on to the Cool Wall, the Volkswagen Beetle & Ford Street Ka are both put in “Cool”. The Smart Roadster ended up being “Sub Zero” despite it’s problems. Richard questions the Renault Avantime which has been “Sub Zero” since the last series – which didn’t help it’s dismal sales figures, selling just 263 cars since it was released. It has since gone out of production so Jeremy removes it from the wall. Jeremy then moves onto a new “Love & Hate” board. Under “Love” is Kristin Scott Thomas and Terry Thomas, and under “Hate” was listed; stereos which have a chummy greeting when you turn them on, paddle shift gearboxes and personalised registration plates. Richard also came up with his own “Top five worst cars ever” list –5. AMC Paeso; 4. Peel P50; 3. Vauxhall Vectra; 2. Suzuki X-90; and in first place, the Nissan Sunny. Out on the track, Richard strolls up to a Nissan Sunny, a car which committed the worst crime of all – being bland. Richard continues, “God gave us, probably celery as the benchmark of nothingness. And then amazingly mankind improved on that, with this… thing”. Richard sends the Sunny to hell, with a little help from a jet-powered dragster. The dragster is reversed up beside the car and proceeds to blast it using the afterburner flame from the back of its engine.

Jeremy introduces ex-footballer come actor, Vinnie Jones as the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car. Vinnie laps a respectable 1:53 on a dry track.

Jeremy then introduces James May as a new presenter for Top Gear (replacing Jason Dawe from Series 1). James is at the seaside, leafing through the small ads at the back of a Classic Car magazine. He discusses the amount of interesting cars which are available for “Mondeo money”, such as Jaguar Mark II’s, Porsche 911’s and old Bentley’s. As he’s walking back to his car, James continues, “Mind you, you’d have to be a complete idiot to buy one of those” just before his own personal Bentley T2 comes into shot. The T2 is essentially the cheapest Bentley available – a good one can be had for under £14,000. James loves the wood grain dashboard, the chrome and the “winged b” bonnet mascot. He also runs through some of the dash controls which are laid out in a very strange manner – something else he loves. The 6.75L V8 up front does not like to be rushed and the steering is vague, but James suggests the allure of owning your own Bentley more than makes up for it. While the Bentley may not depreciate in value like a new Mondeo would, what money you save there will be quickly eaten away at the pump. At the time of recording, it cost James £80 to fill the tank, quite steep for a car which only manages 15mpg when driven sedately. Back in the studio, Jeremy thinks James could have made the film much shorter. James agrees and says; “Yes, it’s um… For the money you spend on a basic Mondeo, you could buy an old Bentley like I did. Don’t!” James also mentions he has to rent a garage to store the car, which is several miles from his house.

Moving on to the news, the Peugeot 206GTI & 206 GTI Estate are both introduced. The Renault Kangoo, Saab 93 convertible and Lamborghini Gallardo are also announced. James also shows us a mystery fax which Top Gear received – showing several line drawings of a car which is easily identifiable as a Lotus Esprit. It’s revealed that Lotus sends the fax out to people, encouraging them to reply with what car they think it is. It’s all part of an attempt to prove that this is their car shape and copyright it. James encourages people to send back bogus answers to prevent them from doing so.

Richard moves on to the next segment – to find a car for not much money. After introducing the £50,000 Bowler Wildcat, it becomes apparent he clearly failed. The Wildcat is built by two brothers in Derbyshire, and features a full space frame chassis, fiberglass body panels and utilises a 5.0L 300bhp Land Rover / TVR hybrid V8. It has fully adjustable suspension and some of the options available include an FIA spec fuel tank, integrated fire extinguisher and an onboard water supply for desert racing. Richard bashes around an old quarry for a while and gets caught up in the emotion of it all, proclaiming “I am a Driving God!”. Afterwards, he pulls over and lets race driver Jim Weaver take the wheel – Richard straps a helmet on and gets into the passenger seat. Jim drives the car around the quarry several times faster than what Richard could manage. Back in the studio, Jeremy requests to see the “Driving God” segment of the film again, much to Richard’s embarrassment. Luckily, a real Driving God is on hand – with the Stig taking the Bowler around the track in 1:39.40 seconds, a time which is very respectable for a car designed primarily for off road work.

Just before the show finishes, Richard reminds us of the Nissan Sunny he burnt to a crisp earlier in the show. It seemed like a waste to burn only one thing, so he organised a caravan to be lined up for a roasting too. The caravan takes the full force of the afterburner and completely rolls over, in a crumpled burning mess.

Star in a reasonably priced car

  • Vinnie Jones – 1:53:00

Top Gear Christmas Special

When the news came out that there would be no Top Gear Christmas Special in 2012 until February 2013 it was a bit of a disappointment. However I guess this is better than not having any Christmas special at all as was feared to be the case before Jeremy tweeted otherwise.

So with that in mind I thought let us at least remember the antics of Jeremy, Hammond and James in India for the 2011 Top Gear Christmas special.

In this India Top Gear Special we see the boys attempt to rescue the British economy through Trade promotion in India.

Top Gear India Christmas Special 2011

Did you enjoy it?

I am curious to see what February 2013 has on offer for the Top Gear 2012 Christmas special episode. Where do you think they may be heading this time?

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