- Jeremy, Richard and James each attempt to make an Amphibious car, then face a challenge.
- Jeremy tests the Lotus Exige S.
- Star in a Reasonably Priced Car: Philip Glenister.
Challenge: The team were tasked with creating amphibious vehicles that would work on land and water from an ordinary car. Each presenter would make their amphibious vehicles separately, not knowing what vehicle the other presenters had or what challenge the vehicles would be tested in. May buys a 1962 Triumph Herald and fits it with a mast and sails. Hammond buys a 1983 Volkswagen Vanagon campervan which he makes into a houseboat and says it will be his very own home from home on land or on water. Clarkson chooses a 1989 Toyota Hilux pickup truck due to its reputation of being indestructible and because its rear end is the perfect mounting point for a 225 hp (168 kW) outboard engine. Clarkson originally wanted 2 engines, but ended up with one due to weight, space and cost. After 2 days, the presenters meet up at the Keele services on the M6 motorway and are flustered with each other’s choice of vehicle and what they’ve made out of them. Hammond and Clarkson have a cup of tea in the Volkswagen Vanagon “Dampervan” while May mends his Herald Yacht’s mast.
Challenge 2: The presenters are then challenged to drive 20 miles to Rudyard Lake near Leek, Staffordshire and then to travel 2 miles along the length of the lake. After leaving the Service Station, the modifications on the vehicles start to take effect — Clarkson’s “Toybota”‘s top speed and smoothness is reduced due to the outboard engine on the back and solid shock absorbers that have been installed. Hammond’s “Dampervan”‘s speed is greatly reduced, due the vehicle now weighing 2 1/2 tons and the engine only having 40 hp. May’s Herald Yacht is also limited to just 35 mph. The Dampervan struggles with hills and Herald Yacht with its sailing mast struggles with low objects, such as bridges and trees. Both Hammond’s and May’s cars suffer from overheating as their hull for the water blocked the engine ventilation. (Clarkson’s Toybota never overheats.) Hammond and May each have a cup of tea in the Dampervan while waiting for the engines to cool. At the lake, Hammond’s Dampervan sinks early on but Hammond is rescued by Clarkson, who’s annoyed that his Toybota’s top speed on water is only 15 knots and not the 40 knots he was hoping for. May’s Herald Yacht doesn’t sink but is very slow due to lack of wind. Clarkson turns too hard and too fast near the finish line, causing the waterline to go over the side of the back of his Toybota, causing it to sink and capsize. May maintains his nickname “Captain Slow” by sailing very slowly to the finish line (despite the clutch failing on the ramp out of the water). However on land, May summed up his experience thusly: “Sailing is really boring!” In the studio, May’s Herald Yacht receives the most votes for the best car which Clarkson states is a fair victory. However, Clarkson then says that he’ll be driving the Toybota home as, being a Hilux, it’s indestructible — but the engine fails to start, thereby ruining the Hilux’s reputation of being ‘indestructible’ – to the amusement of May and Hammond.
The News: Someone sends a pair of Doggles for Top Gear Dog to use. A letter from a viewer upset with the lack of coverage of affordable cars prompts Clarkson to show a picture of the new Vauxhall Corsa and then promptly move on to the next story. There is also a debate about the condition of the presenter’s cars with Clarkson ribbing of Hammond for washing his car with his family and both he and Hammond mocking May keeping a paintbrush in his car to clean the switches on the dashboard. The conversation then swings to the dot-matrix displays on the British motorways, ending with May being ridiculed when he comments about drying his pants in his friend’s microwave (which has a dot-matrix display that reads “Enjoy your meal”). The comment that sparked this was that the highway displays had no sense of reality. Clarkson’s mom has driven the new Honda Civic and doesn’t like it. In response, Hammond suggests the new Noble M15. New cars from Lotus include a replacement for the Esprit, a collaboration with Volkswagen on a “tricycle thing,” a seven seat crossover vehicle, the Europa, as well as new models of the Elise and the Exige S.
Review: Clarkson reviews a Lotus Exige S on the Top Gear test track. The impressive handling from its predecessor has been retained, but a supercharger has been added to the Toyota engine that will propel the Exige to 148 mph with a 0-60 time of 4 seconds. This makes the Exige S the fastest accelerating car Lotus has ever made. To illustrate this speed, Clarkson pits the Exige against a Ford Mustang driven by the Stig around the Top Gear Test Track short circuit. The Exige wins. Drawbacks include the price (£33,000), the road noise, and the awkwardness of getting in/out of the thing. The Stig turns in a Power Lap time of 1:25.1 (just ahead of the Lamborghini Gallardo).
The Cool Wall: The Lotus Exige S is declared “Uncool” because of a man in shorts liking it. The Proton Savvy is deemed “Uncool” because of its name. The pink Nissan Micra C+C is deemed almost too uncool for the wall (it is hanging off the edge of the “Seriously Uncool” section). The Jaguar XK is also deemed “Uncool” because of the game of golf, which influences the car’s performance (in Clarkson’s view). Clarkson afterwards said: “It’s also pissing off our director, who’s just bought one!” The Koenigsegg CCX is the first supercar to be deemed “Cool,” because of its scariness and danger factor.
Star In A Reasonably Priced Car: Actor Philip Glenister went around the track in 1.54.35, the Lacetti’s first wet lap.
“Some say that his genitals are on upside down, and that if he could be bothered he could crack the da vinci code in 43 seconds. All we know is he’s called the Stig.”
Stig Power Laps
Lotus Exige S
Star in a Reasonably Priced Car