- Jeremy tests a Citroen Berlingo Multispace by taking to France.
- The Ford GT40 concept car is in the studio.
- Jeremy pitches the Pagani Zonda against the Lamborghini Murcielago.
- The Stig and the test track are introduced.
- Richard sees if you can beat a speed camera by speeding.
- Jeremy runs a diesel Volvo 740 on vegetable oil.
- Richard tests the Mazda 6.
- Star in a Reasonably Priced Car: Harry Enfield.
In this first episode of the revived Top Gear, we’re introduced to the new studio & test track which are both located at Dunsfold Aerodrome in Surrey. A former aircraft hanger was commandeered for the studio and parts of the runways and taxiways of the aerodrome were used to create a test track (with the help of Lotus).
In the first segment, Jeremy Clarkson introduces two £12,000 5-door family hatchbacks – the Volkswagen Golf & Ford Focus. Both cheap & affordable cars for the average man. However the new Citroen Berlingo Multispace is brought into the equation – a 5 door hatchback which costs less than £9000. The Berlingo Multispace is based on the Berlingo van, with additional windows and rear seats fitted. Jeremy describes it as a “Curious looking thing” and immediately casts doubt over whether you’re actually getting value for money. In order to find out, he takes it on a booze run along the M20 motorway and through the channel tunnel to Calais, France. On the way he discovers the car has retained much of its van heritage – loud cabin noise levels and echoing are evident. However Jeremy mentions the Berlingo Multispace is very roomy, practical, has ride quality “like a Jaguar” and that it has a definite “character”. Jeremy admits, “Basically, I like it.” A point he later demonstrates by buying only one tiny bottle of wine – in fear of having his car crushed upon returning to the UK for importing amounts of alcohol which exceed personal consumption limits. The Berlingo is described as a “must have” car for its price range – however Jason Dawe recommends the petrol engine over the diesel.
Richard Hammond enters and re-caps on the history of the Ford GT40 – conquering Ferrari at Le Mans in 1966, 1967, 1968 & 1969. Back in the studio, the Ford GT prototype is introduced. The specs of the car (5.4L V8, 500hp) are mentioned, along with the projected US$150,000 price and that “Basically, your going to have to know somebody at Ford” just to get one.
In the news, Jeremy announces the government’s plan to spend £145,000,000 on the road network over the next 5 years – which he claims amounts to £29,000,000 a year, or 3.5miles of motorway per year. Jeremy then talks about Fiat’s current financial problems and introduces the new Fiat Stilo estate. A car he says Fiat are banking on to save the entire company – and not just Fiat – but also Lancia, Alfa Romeo, Maserati & Ferrari (all of which Fiat owns). The new Nissan Micra and the Smart Roadster are shown. Ferrari’s domination of Formula one is discussed and the fact that technology has taken over the sport, instead of pure driving skill – man & machine. The new Bentley Continental also gets a mention.
In the next segment, the Pagani Zonda is compared to the Lamborghini Murcielago. Jeremy draws similarities between the Zonda and an F15 fighter – “both have glass bubble roofs at the front & a lot of engine behind, and both have styled exhaust outlets.” The noise from the Mercedes V12 with 555bhp and the lightness of the carbon fibre bodywork are both lauded – resulting in the Zonda’s 220mph top speed. Jeremy switches to the Lamborghini Murcielago and sees what’s what. As Audi now owns Lamborghini, Jeremy speaks of vastly increased drivability compared to Lamborghini’s of old – greater cabin space, a light clutch with smooth, easy gear changes, and a 6.2L V12 with 571bhp. The Murcielago is pitched against the Zonda in a drag race – with the Zonda annihilating it. Pondering the loss, Jeremy claims the Murcielago is not so much a super car, but instead more like a great sports car – the best Lamborghini ever made and better than any current Ferrari.. but not as good as the Zonda. The Zonda is crowned “The new king of super cars”.
Next, Richard sets up a test to examine whether or not you can beat a speed camera by driving past at a massive amount of speed. A Honda Civic Type-R at 129mph and a Mercedes CL55 AMG at 148mph both triggered the first photo of the speed camera and failed to outrun the second confirmation photo. A final attempt in a TVR Tuscan S at over 170mph failed to trigger the camera at all – proving it can work, but that the speed required is too dangerous.
Jeremy talks to a chap called Jason Tailor about running diesel engined cars on vegetable oil. The process of straining the oil, adding a white spirit solvent and then letting it stand for a week is explained. A Volvo 740 diesel has it’s tank drained (verified) and then filled with 25L of the vegetable oil mixture. The car starts on the first attempt and is driven away.
Richard road tests the Mazda 6. He claims Mazda’s are “Good cars for shy exhibitionists” and that “You could drive one butt-naked through any major town in the world, and not an eye would be battered – They’re practically invisible.” The looks of the Mazda 6 are praised along with the quality interior, in both design & finish. Richard is impressed with the handling and claims it is exciting to drive – a shock he says, considering it’s a Mazda. On the downside, road and wind noise are evident, however when it comes to price it compares favourably to its rivals.
Stig Power Laps
Star in a Reasonably Priced Car