Top Gear: Series 1, Episode 3

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  • Jeremy roadtests the new Mini, then compares it against the Toyota Yaris Verso.
  • What is the best looking car ever made? Richard and Jeremy compare.
  • Richard hosts the Top Gear Granny Doughnut Challenge.
  • Insider Dealing with Jason Dawe.
  • The Westfield XTR is brought to the track to try beat the Zonda’s time.
  • Star in a Reasonably Priced Car: Ross Kemp.

Episode Guide

The news heads up this episode, with Jeremy talking about style – and the fact that most car enthusiasts or “Petrol Heads” tend to be a bit geeky and a little bit nerdy. To try buck the trend Jeremy ditched his trademark jeans for cargo pants and a blazer, before describing Richard’s clothing as “combining a table cloth and a shirt” and that Jason is “wearing a tent”. To compliment this half arsed makeover, the studio audience had been specially arranged so all the good looking people were directly in camera shot, and the ugly ones out the back. Jeremy singles out a specific man in the ugly section and says he can’t decide whether he looks more like Robin Askwith or Keith Emerson. He continues to say “If a guy comes up to you with a microphone and goes ‘Can you move?’, it’s because you’re ugly.” A group of young car designers are also in the studio and Jeremy says straight up “You’re never going to make it.” “To be a car designer you have to wear black.” “You have to look like a chechen rebel.” (Instead of “an oasis tribute band”.) The news continues with Jeremy talking about the use of sex to sell cars, and that it’s “Very last week” and “It’s uncool.” The government’s “Transport 2000” plan is mentioned and essentially is palmed off as a load of rubbish.

Jeremy moves on to the new Mini, to answer a question that literally everyone is asking him – “What is it like?”. Jeremy has a question of his own though; “What is an aquadrome?” He has always wondered because of a brown sign on the M1 saying “Billing Aquadrome” which he frequently passes. Jeremy decides to kill two birds with one stone and takes the Mini there for a look. In this roadtest, Jeremy is driving the base model; the Mini one – “£10,000 worth of end of the pier, no nonsense fun. A bit like Billing Aquadrome then – turns out it’s a caravan site.” Jeremy loved the original Mini and was a little bit worried about how the new one would turn out with BMW at the helm. However he happily finds out they’ve improved it – mentioning the great dashboard layout and cabin space. The fact the new car actually has decent suspension means it’s now a “wonderful comfortable car. Brilliant.” He also goes on to say “I’ve driven cars costing 5 times more than this, that are 5 times less of a hoot.” Jeremy recommends the base model as the one to go for, as it shares the same engine as the Cooper, except that it’s missing an ECU chip that is fitted to the Cooper to gain more bhp. The wheelbase on the mini is the same length as a Landrover Discovery – it has grown in size from the original model, however there are some small problems. Despite this length, the rear seats have next to no leg room and that the boot is titchy. “If a martian came to earth, and you explained what you could normally get into a car of this size… 4 doors, space for all the family, space for the dog.. he’d say ‘What’s a dog?’. And then when you explained that he’d say ‘Plainly, this is hopeless.” A Toyota Yaris Verso is then compared to the Mini. A car that costs the same as the Mini, is smaller on the outside but larger on the inside. Along with the space, it has a complicated folding seat arrangement in order to gain more space in the back of the car. Practicality wise, the Yaris beats the Mini hands down, however Jeremy thinks something about it isn’t quite right… the styling. “It’s perfect in every way, except it looks like an ugly snake that swallowed a wardrobe.” Jeremy concludes the Yaris is the most practical car, however it loses out completely in style – it’ll never be cool.

Back in the studio, Jeremy introduces a car designer called Peter Hallbury and they discuss the styling of a current model Volvo estate. Peter says the styling department was told to “Take the front of a sports car and weld it to the back of a Ford Transit.” The front of the car is very rounded and sporty, the A-pillars are angled in quite steeply however looking down the side of the car the side windows slowly pivot out and by the time it gets to the back “the box is still there.” “The boxy Volvo when you need it.” To Peter, the Porsche 928 is the best looking car in the world ever.

Richard takes the next segment and disagrees with Peter about the Porsche 928. For Richard, the best looking car is the 1955 Citroen DS. A car which on the day it was released, received some 12,000 orders. The design was so far ahead of its time, it’s life spanned 20 years before going out of production. Aside from the astonishing looks, it had some seriously advanced features for the era – such as disc brakes, a central hydraulic system which controlled the suspension, the brakes, the steering and optional semi automatic gearbox.

Back in the studio, Richard continues with the next segment – the Top Gear Granny Doughnut Challenge. Out of a load of entries, 5 grannies were selected and brought to the Top Gear Test track, where they met the car they would be using – a Honda S2000. After a short break for cake and biscuits, the grannies were given a few pointers by professional stunt driver Russ Swift. Joy (73) is up first and manages half a dozen doughnuts after a few attempts. Gwyneth is up next and manages 3 full doughnuts before going off onto the grass. Beryl also notched up a few and Ann also managed half a dozen spins. Not satisfied with this attempt, Richard decides to step things up a bit – with Sadie, 80 years old. Sadie not only managed several doughnuts, but also bounced off the rev limiter on more than one occasion. It was also suggested that she did better doughnuts than Russ Swift.

Jeremy introduces Ross Kemp as the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car. Ross manages a 1:54.00 on a wet track.

Jason Dawe is up next with Insider Dealing. Providing information on some fantastic car deals.

Jeremy returns with a car he believes beats the Citroen DS in the looks department – the Lamborghini Miura. In 1966 it became the world’s first mid-engined road car. However this would not be Jeremy’s choice for the best looking car – for that, he’d choose the Aston Martin DB7. Jeremy admits if he really wanted to, he could pull this car apart because of its flaws – poor build quality in the early models, and the fact that it’s underpinnings are based on the Jaguar XJS – a design which is some 25 years old. Also a lack of climate control, cruise control or satellite navigation. Jeremy continues, “Even with a 6.0L V12, it’s no more powerful than a parish council.” Despite these issues, Jeremy argues the sheer beauty of the DB7 is enough to make up for all of the shortcomings. “If you had one and you were going out in the evening, you could say ‘Shall we take the Aston?’. …and that sounds pretty good doesn’t it.”
Jeremy continues, “..And I don’t think the DB7 is good looking for a car either – for me the three best looking things ever made by man are 3. The Humber Suspension Bridge; 2. The SR71 Spyplane; and at 1. The Aston Martin DB7”.

Looking back at the first program, the Zonda went around the track in a 1:23.00 time. Top Gear sent out a challenge to anyone who could supply a car that would lap faster than that – one of the responses came from a small company called Westfield – manufacturers of the XTR. Despite looking like a racecar, it is actually road registerable. Jeremy has his doubts about it beating the Zonda – a car which has a 7.3L V12, compared to the XTR with a 1.3L motorcycle engine. While this may sound very underpowered, the XTR has no creature comforts, not even a windscreen infact. All of this adds up to a kerb weight of 410kg – even a Mini weighs almost 3 times more. The engine is a 1300cc Suzuki Hayabusa with 170hp – equating to a power to weight ratio of 460bhp/ton. The Zonda manages 440bhp/ton, suggesting the XTR may walk away with the prize. The Stig takes it for a lap around the track and returns a 1:22.60.

Stig Power Laps

Westfield XTR
1:22.60

Star in a Reasonably Priced Car

Ross Kemp
1:54.00 (wet)

Screenshots

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Rating: 7.4/10 (7 votes cast)

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