Top Gear: Series 11, Episode 1

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  • Jeremy runs a super car economy test.
  • Jeremy track tests the Ferrari 430 Scuderia.
  • Top Gear Stuntman attempts to break the reverse jumping world record in an Austin Allegro.
  • The boys attempt to build Police cars for under £1000.
  • Stars in a Reasonably Priced Car: Justin Lee Collins & Alan Carr.

Episode Guide

Watch this episode on Amazon Instant Video

The boys start by explaining that the BBC sent them a letter telling them that because of the high petrol prices, they should be doing more on fuel economy and saving motorist’s money. Richard comments “Unfortunately, that letter was opened by him”, pointing at Jeremy Clarkson. In response to the letter, Jeremy thought the best thing to do was to gather a bunch of super cars and have a race. On the Top Gear test track, they lined up five super cars, each with only 1 gallon of petrol in the tank. The winner would be the one who could go the fastest and around the track, and go the farthest before running out of fuel. The contenders were a Ferrari 599, a Lamborghini Murciélago LP640, a Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren, an Aston Martin DBS and an Audi R8. The Ferrari was the first to drop out, after doing just 1.7 miles. The Aston was the next casualty, soon followed by the McLaren. The Lamborghini, with Jeremy behind the wheel, spluttered and came in second with the winner being the Audi R8, managing 5 miles to the gallon, much greater than the Ferrari. Jeremy sums up the experiment with a Top Gear Top Tip “If you’ve been affected by the fuel crisis, this is the super car to buy”. Back in the studio and Richard explains that the BBC had seen Jeremy’s experiment and said that it was ‘stupid’, and that they should do something a bit more ‘normal’.

On the subject of fuel economy, Jeremy points out a few economical design flaws in the Toyota Prius. Using a map, he explains that the nickel used in the batteries that power the Prius comes from a non-eco friendly mine in Canada, loaded on a non-eco friendly cargo ship, sent to Europe where it is refined, transported to China where it is turned into a different substance and finally on to Japan where its put in to batteries, and in to the Prius itself. The whole process is rather complicated and in a recent study, it was found that in the long term, the Prius was more damaging to the environment than a Land Rover Discovery. Jeremy questions whether the Prius really is economical and takes in to the Top Gear test track for a test. He introduces the other half of the test, a BMW M3, a car that was never designed to be economical. His test was simple, 10 laps of the test track. The Prius would be driven as fast as possible, while the M3 only had to keep up. The Prius was powered by a 1.5 litre 4 cylinder hybrid engine, while the M3 was powered by a 414bhp 4.0 litre V8. After the full 10 laps, The Prius got 17.2 miles to the gallon, while the M3 got 19.4 mile to the gallon. Jeremy explains that it’s not what you drive, it’s how you drive it. Hammond tries to move on, but Clarkson quickly stops him and shares his idea for stealing a fuel tanker.

They eventually move on to the news and introduce the new Hyundai Genesis, the Tata Nano, which, as Hammond points out, looks strangely like a Pikachu Pokémon. Clarkson shows another one of his “I went on the Internet and found this”. James briefly touches on the Dacia Sandero… again, and Jeremy picks on the name of the new Toyota Urban Cruiser.

Jeremy then moves on, with a question – “What’s wrong with Ferrari?” He explains that Ferrari’s seem to be built around technology rather than being built on passion and excitement. That’s where the new 430 Scuderia comes in. Jeremy says that manufacturers like Porsche and Lamborghini go to great lengths to hide what has been removed in order to lighten their track cars. Ferrari on the other hand, ignored that with their track version of the 430 and has let it all hang out. As a result, the car is 100kg lighter, but all of the usual comforts are gone, no satellite navigation, no stereo and the carpet has been removed exposing all of the welds in the body. Most people would then assume that with less comforts and gadgets, the Scuderia would be cheaper than your average 430, but you’d be wrong. The Scuderia is in fact £43,000 more expensive, carrying a price tag of £172,000. Despite the lack of gadgets and luxuries, the Scuderia does come with a few upgrades, silicon brakes, a new differential and a computer upgrade to the gearbox that allows the car to change gear in less than 60 milliseconds. The most notable difference however is a small switch on the steering wheel that allows the driver to turn the traction control and stability management down or off. The Scuderia is capable of doing 0-60mph in 3.5 seconds with a top speed of close to 200mph, thanks largely to the weight saving and a power increase totaling 510hp. Co-designed by Michael Schumacher, Ferrari claim that the Scuderia is actually faster around the Ferrari Test Track than an Enzo. Jeremy explains that it is a difficult car to drive fast though, referring to it as a street brawler, “Feels like it wants to Goose your Mother, vomit in one of your flower beds, go to the pub, get drunk and kick someone’s head in”. Happy in the knowledge that the Scuderia is indeed a proper Ferrari, the car is taken for a lap of the track, posting a time of 1:19.7.

The boys then introduce the newest member of the Top Gear team, Top Gear Stunt Man. Top Gear Stunt Man will attempt to break the world record for the most cars jumped, only he’ll be doing so in reverse. The car chosen was an Austin Allegro, mostly as the car was probably more aerodynamic going backwards than it was forwards. Despite what seemed to be a disappointing attempt, James informed the audience that there was in fact no previous record for the longest jump in reverse, making Top Gear Stunt Man’s first attempt a complete success and earning the Top Gear team a world record.

Jeremy then introduces the two Star’s In A Reasonably Priced Car, Justin Lee Collins and Alan Carr, who post of a lap time of 1:51.8 and 1:51.2.

Hammond shows a few clips of police chases from America, building up the excitement before Jeremy steps in and shows an English clip of the police in a Vauxhall Astra. Jeremy explains the reason British police don’t have exciting chases is due to a lack of money when it comes to repairing police vehicles damaged during pursuits. A Top Gear solution was discovered, why not purchase used cars instead. Each armed with £1,000, the boys purchased what they thought would make a good police car. Clarkson was the first to arrive and show off his purchase, a turbocharged Fiat Coupé, for which he only paid £900. He continued to boast that the police could purchase ten used Fiat Coupé’s for the price of a single Vauxhall Astra. James was next to arrive in a Lexus LS400, also purchased for £900. Jeremy was quick to point and laugh at May’s choice until Hammond arrived in a Suzuki Vitara, complete with pink decals. Jeremy started with insults before Hammond turned the focus back on to Jeremy’s Fiat. Jeremy tried to defend his choice by demonstrating the use of the ski hatch to May and Hammond. “An armed siege, I’m pinned down in the car by Robert De Niro, I need to get at my M16, I just come through here without getting out the car”.

Jeremy received the first challenge and began reading it to the boys. “Now that you have your cars, you must each use your skill and ingenuity to turn them into the perfect, modern police car for no more than £500”. Once the boys had finished upgrading their new police vehicles, they met at the Top Gear test track for a series of challenges. James was the first to show off his upgrades, including classic British police livery, mission statement on the side and a mandatory blue flashing light on the roof. Jeremy then arrived in his Fiat, complete with Italian Polizia livery, spikes protruding from the rear wheels much like old Roman chariots, and a mission statement that reads “In jail, no one can hear you scream”. Jeremy boasted that his car was far scarier than May’s. James did however explain that his was more practical and had four nozzles installed into the rear bumper that shoot paint on the baddies windscreen. After showing off their sirens, Richard finally arrived in his Suzuki covered in blue flashing lights. Ironically, more noticeable was the big heap of rolled up rubber hanging precariously from the front bumper. Richard explained that it was a “stinger”, designed to deploy when the car stopped suddenly. He demonstrates how it works, much to the amusement of James and Jeremy.

On to the next challenge, Jeremy reads, “A police car has to be fast. To see how quick your cars are, The Stig will now drive one timed lap in the standard British police issue Vauxhall Astra Diesel. All you have to do is beat his time in your cars. Bonus points will be awarded for flamboyant driving style which will look good on a police kill action program”. The Stig takes the Astra around the track with a time of 1min 48sec. James was first up with a very un-eventful lap and a time of 2min 3sec. Jeremy was up next and started by smearing the camera with Vaseline, to give a ‘soft focus’ look, and came out swinging with a J-turn that only resulted in him stalling the car. On he went, only to discover that his wheel attachments had thrown out the balancing of the rear wheels which resulted in a massive vibration in the steering. Throwing the handbrake on over the finish line, Jeremy only managed a time of 2min 8sec. Richard was the last hope to beat The Stig’s lap time, however, before even reaching the first corner a loud bang can be heard and Richard explains that he is no longer in four wheel drive. Whilst turning it to Hammerhead, his stinger was accidentally deployed and ripped from the car, but it wasn’t the only drama over the course of the lap. After a few handbrake slides and crashing through a pile of cardboard boxes, the Suzuki gave up and the engine stalled. Richard did manage to roll across the line in a time of 3min 14sec.

For their next challenge, the boys were told to report to the scene of an accident. Richard reads, “As you can see, the road has been blocked with a crash. Normally it would take the authorities 6 hours to get the road open again. You will now demonstrate it’s possible to be much quicker than that. If you haven’t got the job done in 2 minutes, motorists who’ve been held up will be allowed to pelt you with food”. James and Richard moved the wrecked cars while Jeremy took care of the wounded in typical Top Gear fashion.

After completing the challenge, the British police gave a demonstration on bringing a pursuit to a stop while Jeremy shared his idea at how it could be improved. The next challenge was then issued, “You will now demonstrate to the police how your cheap cars can be used to stop a stolen car without using £125,000 worth of Volvo, the RAF, and 16 health and safety forms, and just to make your task that little bit harder, the BMW will be driven by The Stig. James went first, eager to test out his paint guns. Unfortunately for James, he was unable to keep up with The Stig and was forced to wait patiently until The Stig completed a lap and came back around. Much to the surprise of Jeremy and Richard, James’ paint guns worked a real treat, almost blocking The Stig’s view completely, that was until The Stig simply turned on the windscreen wipers. Richard then took over and also failed to keep up with The Stig in the BMW. Cutting across the track, Richard hit the brakes hard and deployed his stinger in front of The Stig. Unfortunately, Richard’s stinger was far too short and failed to cover the entire width of the track and The Stig simply drove around it. Jeremy, unlike the other two, actually managed to keep up with The Stig. He began by trying a PIT manoeuvre, and whilst he did manage to hit the rear of the BMW, The Stig managed to keep control and power out of it. With failure looking almost certain, Jeremy resorted to using his wheel attachments. His first attempt resulted in a spectacular clash, but no real results. The second attempt resulted in slight damage to the BMW and Jeremy’s wheel falling off only narrowly missing James, Richard and the cameraman. Jeremy’s Fiat came to a stop and he exited the car shouting “Something has gone wrong with the handling”.

Back in the studio and Richard begins to tally up the points to find out who was the winner. During the tallying, it comes to light that Richard’s Suzuki cost £750, much to the amusement of Jeremy. James scored a total of 88 points, Richard scored 179 points, and Jeremy fell just short with 178 points. Jeremy then argued the point, as he always does, and demanded to see the score sheet that Richard had. In typical Hammond fashion, Richard wasn’t going to let Jeremy see it and instead shoved the paper in to his mouth. Jeremy then concludes that the best car for the British police is a Suzuki Vitara with a door mat on the front.

Some say…

“Some say that after making love he bites the head off his partner, and that he’s had to give up binge drinking now that it’s got to £1.18 a litre. All we know is he’s called the Stig.”

Stig Power Laps

Ferrari 430 Scuderia
1:19.70

Star in a Reasonably Priced Car

Justin Lee Collins
1:51.80
Alan Carr
1:51.20

Screenshots

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Rating: 9.2/10 (78 votes cast)