- Jeremy tests and compares the Ford Mondeo ST220, Mazda 6 MPS & Vauxhall Vectra VX-R.
- The boys go on a Caravan holiday to see why everyone else enjoys it.
- Richard attempts to break the indoor speed record using an F1 car.
- Star in a Reasonably Priced Car: Brian Cox.
Review: Clarkson tests three hot saloons with a “rubbish badges”: the Ford Mondeo ST220, the Mazda 6 MPS and the Vauxhall Vectra VXR. Clarkson calls the Mondeo “one of Britain’s most underrated cars.” Throughout his review, he lavishes compliments upon it, deciding that it’s only weakness is that it seems “common.” However, he points out that the BMW 3 series outsold it last year. Additionally, via a chart, he shows that in the previous year 1,050 Aston Martin DB9’s were sold in Britain while only 903 Mondeo ST220s left dealerships – proving his point that the Mondeo is the more exclusive car. Also somewhat exclusive is the Mazda 6 MPS. He finds that while it is not as practical or pretty as the Ford, it is even better and more fun to drive. Again using a chart, he compares the Mazda to a similarly priced BMW 318i M Sport and finds that the Mazda is better in every way. Finally, he drives the Vauxhall Vectra or as he puts it “one of my least favourite cars in the world!” With another chart, he illustrates his contempt for the car. However, the VXR is more stylish than Vectras of old and it is fast too. Pitted against the other two in a drag race on the Top Gear track it handily wins. In the hands of The Stig, the poised and delicate Mondeo achieves a laptime of 1:34.4, while the energetic and powerful Mazda 6 an even better 1:32.2. Despite being the fastest car with a 161 mph top speed, the Vectra can only manage a time of 1:35.5 due to “catastrophic understeer.”
The News: Clarkson and Hammond bicker about muscle cars. Hammond gushes about the new 2008 Dodge Challenger, while Clarkson complains about his recent trip to the United States to drive a Chrysler 300 and calls both a BMW M6 and a Jaguar XKR muscle cars. May finally shuts them up by announcing Daihatsu is going to make a new Copen. Clarkson spots a celebrity among the audience members (“Jesus is here!”). They ridicule a study that claims people with speed camera detectors are less likely to get speeding tickets. Bus drivers are furious with Clarkson for negative comments he made about them.
Challenge: Clarkson, May and Hammond go on a caravan holiday in Dorset to try and find out more about caravaning. The trio unsuccessfully try to have fun, cause numerous traffic jams, Top Gear Dog becomes ill, May crashes the caravan into a bollard, and then blocks the road (eventually attracting police attention) when trying to correct a wrong turn. On site, May crashes the caravan into a neighbouring site, partially collapsing the neighbour’s gazebo (which will later be destroyed), Hammond and Top Gear Dog are “kidnapped” by an elderly female fan, and Clarkson accidentally set fire to the caravan and its neighbour whilst trying to cook chips.
Star In A Reasonably Priced Car: Brian Cox talks with Jeremy about his roles as villains (principally Hannibal Lector), life in America, and his Toyota Prius’s. Despite posting a slow time of 2:01, he says that he enjoyed the track experience tremendously.
Challenge: The Stig has a go at the nonexistent indoor world speed record in one of the ExCeL Exhibition Centre’s halls with a Toyota TF105 F1 car. He sets a world record of 81 mph (130 km/h), although because of the lack of grip afforded by the hall’s polished floor, this was only slightly faster than the 70 mph (112 km/h) he recorded with the Chevrolet Lacetti.
“Now some say that he invented Branston Pickle, and that if you insult his mother, he will head-butt you in the chest. All we know is he’s called the Stig.”
Stig Power Laps
Ford Mondeo ST220
Mazda 6 MPS
Vauxhall Vectra VX-R
Star in a Reasonably Priced Car