- The boys attempt to build an electric car that is better than a G-Wiz.
- Jeremy pits the Chevrolet Corvette C6 ZR1 against an Audi R8 V10.
- Star in a Reasonably Priced Car: Michael Sheen.
Review: Clarkson reviews the new V10-engined Audi R8. He praises the car’s performance as well as its practicality. However, he criticises the price tag of £100,000 and also characterises the car being boring to drive, despite its high level of performance. Next, he reviews the Chevrolet Corvette ZR1. He praises the car for having significantly more power than the R8 (120 bhp (89 kW) more) and for being more fun to drive. However, he criticises the car’s workmanship, its styling, and its unrefined handling, calling the car as “being vulgar”. It proves to be unable to keep up with the R8 on the test track. However, despite the R8’s better styling, performance, and quality, he still considers the Corvette the car to buy.
The Stig takes the R8 round a damp track in 1:21.6, however the Corvette proves to be faster in the hands of the “tame racing driver” with a time of 1:20.4 in the same conditions. Clarkson explains that either he or Hammond would manage to take the Audi round in about the same time as The Stig but would never be able to match him in the Corvette.
Challenge: Jeremy, Richard and James attempt to build their own electric car. Richard is given responsibility of the car’s chassis, suspension and brakes, whereas James deals with propulsion. Jeremy designs the interior and exterior, using, among others, large felines, fighter jets, Peter Bowles and the Fiat Multipla for inspiration. After being built in the Top Gear Technology Centre, the car, which is called Geoff, is taken for a drive around Oxford. It subsequently ran out of power in central Oxford, causing a traffic jam, and then again in the countryside. Eventually Geoff was “killed” when it rolled backwards down a hill into a tree. Geoff was constructed by fitting a bolted aluminium frame to the chassis of a TVR Chimaera, using an electric motor from a milk-float and originally using two batteries. The interior featured 3-abreast seating made from plastic garden chairs, and a transparent roof-box to accommodate Hammond’s head as his centre seat was mounted above the raised drive-shaft.
The car is redesigned and named the “Hammerhead Eagle i-Thrust.” The redesign includes extra batteries, along with a diesel generator to recharge the batteries while the car is in motion. The presenters then took their new car to the MIRA Proving Ground in order to test whether it would pass the EU-required tests that would make the car road legal. The tests consisted of a two crash tests to test safety, a drag race to test speed, a cobbled road to test ride comfort, a steep hill test and a quality test around the MIRA test track, in which the presenters used various tricks to have their car “pass”, including using the three presenters as crash-test dummies and crash-testing the car at a very low speed and playing back in fast-motion; cheating at the pendulum test by raising the pendulum from the car and then playing the footage in reverse, and having the car tested by an “independent test driver” (James wearing a fake moustache). The car is also taken for an endurance test by “the Stig’s vegetarian cousin” (who is entirely green, has solar panels on its helmet, and wears sandals) – who is killed after 35 minutes by fumes from the generator after the exhaust fell off.
Confident that their car was now road legal, they gave it to Autocar magazine for an independent test. The presenters were somewhat disheartened by the results however, as the Hammerhead Eagle i-Thrust was rated 1 out of 5 by the magazine’s writers (although it did at least beat the G-Wiz and an electric golf cart, which the same magazine awarded both cars 0.5 out of 5). However, the car did receive praise from some of its characteristics, such as the vertical A-pillars, which improve visibility.
Star in a Reasonably Priced Car: Michael Sheen did a lap in 1:46.3 despite having just flown in from Los Angeles. He was officially named the Fastest Welshman to drive around the track.
“Some say that he has some terrible plans involving the moon, and that he was turned down for a place on “I’m a Celebrity” because he is one. All we know is he’s called the Stig.”
Stig Power Laps
Chevrolet Corvette C6 ZR1
Audi R8 V10
Star in a Reasonably Priced Car