Top Gear: Series 9, Episode 5

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  • Jeremy highlights the hazards of railway level crossings.
  • The boys choose a tractor each for planting their own oil seed.
  • Jeremy power tests the Lamborghini Murcielago LP640.
  • Star in a Reasonably Priced Car: Kristin Scott Thomas.

Episode Guide

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Public Service Video: Clarkson produced a video about level crossings. He showed CCTV footage of an old man jumping the light at a level crossing, then put a Renault Espace on the tracks. The car was then destroyed by a railway locomotive crashing into it. After witnessing this carnage, Clarkson advised viewers to “wear proper reflective safety clothing” instead of telling them not to drive around the level crossing gates.

The News: They begin with the Maserati GranTurismo, which Clarkson and May agree is a thing of beauty. Hammond prefers its sister car, the Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione. Hammond and May ridicule Clarkson for getting a haircut and wearing a suit on the day that his crush, Kristin Scott Thomas, is in the studio. Volkswagen has revealed a sporty Passat – the very notion of which Clarkson finds “ludicrous!” Clarkson shares a photo he took on the drive into the studio of a Peugeot 1007, joking that someone has actually bought one. Both Hammond and May take delight in pointing out that Jeremy took the photo while driving a Rolls-Royce Phantom – another obvious way of impressing Kristin. The results of the Top Gear Survey are revealed. The Honda S2000 is the most satisfying car. The bottom six are all French cars.

Challenge: Clarkson, Hammond and May plant their own rapeseed biofuel after acquiring three tractors to test, with a number of challenges to start:

Challenge 1: Each presenter had to start their tractor, hook up to a four-wheel trailer and reverse out of the studio’s car park. May got no farther than starting his tractor, Hammond clipped a Vauxhall Astra Concept Car, and Clarkson gave up due to his inability to reverse a trailer.
Challenge 2: The Stig did laps with the unusual aim of going slower than Richard Whiteley had. Clarkson, with the fastest tractor of the three, got the fastest time (thus losing the challenge). May, who had set his seat setting to soft, got second, while Richard, with the largest tractor of the three, got the slowest time. Interestingly, the lap was 6 seconds faster than the slowest ever lap of the circuit, by one of the White Van Drivers in S01E08, who got lost.
Challenge 3: The team then had a “drag” (towing) race in which Hammond pulled a wheel-less “Top Gear Production Office” Portakabin and Clarkson chose the Boeing 747-200 preserved at Dunsfold, whilst May assembled a convoy of Top Gear creations containing: “Toybota” (S08E03), S Class Country Cottage (S08E04), Triumph Herald sail boat (S08E03), Ford Transit (S08E08), “Dampervan” (S08E03), Suzuki SuperCarry (S08E08), Convertible People Carrier (S08E01) and LDV Convoy removal van (S08E08). May won that challenge with Hammond in second, whilst Clarkson went to sleep with his foot on the accelerator since the aeroplane was much heavier and thus slower than the others. The Convertible People Carrier ended up being destroyed during the race, when it broke free of May’s convoy and was hit side-on by the Portakabin which Hammond was towing.

They then cleared a field of sheep, crossed a weak bridge (which Clarkson broke) and ploughed, with the aid of judges. Then after lunch (with chaos in the local village when Hammond turned up in his tractor) they had to plant their crop seeds, with May volunteering to use his tractor for it. Due to his incorrectly operating the seed spreader however, all the seeds ended up dumped in a small pile near where he had started, and he had to spend the rest of the day carefully replanting the crop (which was revealed as diesel used in the Britcar 24 Hour race).

Star In A Reasonably Priced Car: Actress (and Cool Wall muse) Kristin Scott Thomas. Clarkson took the opportunity to get her opinion on some cars to put on The Cool Wall. She said Clarkson’s new Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder was “pathetic,” but she also approved of the G-Wiz and the Bentley Continental GT – both of which Clarkson had gone out of his way to bash in the past. They also discussed her role in Chekhov’s play The Seagull, which was running in London at the time. Throughout the interview, Hammond & May mocked Clarkson from the audience – this was the only Star In A Reasonably Car segment to feature them in any capacity. Kristin completed her lap in 1:54.

Review: Standing next to a Ferrari in the studio, Hammond describes it as a supercar before moving on to two Lamborghinis (a Diablo and a Countach), which he describes as hypercars. Clarkson then begins his review of the new Lamborghini Murciélago LP640. He is at first disappointed by the lack of lunacy in the Murciélago as compared with its older brothers (the Diablo, Countach, & Miura) – a fault he bestows on Audi, which now owns Lamborghini. However, he also finds that the car works better than any previous Lamborghini and discovers that it is “properly, savagely fast” as he takes it to 207 mph on the Top Gear track (a new record for the show). To better illustrate the speed, he organizes a drag race between a fast car (a VW Golf GTI) and the Murciélago. Predictably, the Murciélago leads from the start and quickly disappears toward the horizon. Reading over the options list does reveal a bit of lunacy with things like “that little bit of carbon fibre there on the center console” costing several thousand pounds. Despite this, the base car still costs under £200,000 – roughly half the price of another hypercar, the Pagani Zonda. He concluded his review by stating that it is sort of halfway between a supercar and a hypercar. It lacks the over-the-top aesthetics that would definitively place it in hypercar territory, but it lacks the confident handling that would give it supercar status. The Stig took it around the track in 1:19.8, sixth place overall.

Some say…

“Some say that he sucks the moisture from ducks, and that his crash helmet is modeled on Britney Spears’ head. All we know is he’s called the Stig.”

Stig Power Laps

Lamborghini Murcielago LP640
1:19.80

Star in a Reasonably Priced Car

Kristin Scott Thomas
1:54.00

Screenshots

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Rating: 8.0/10 (2 votes cast)

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