- The boys attempt to build a cost-effective Snowplow using an old Combine Harvester and take it to Norway for testing.
- Jeremy power tests the new BMW M3 & Audi RS5.
- Star in a Reasonably Priced Car: Amber Heard.
In this weeks episode Top Gear tackle the problem of winter snowfall, and how it can be cleared from the roads cheaply and without the need for expensive Snowplows. Richard introduces us to the “Dominator” – a cheap old harvester which TG purchased and then modified to become a Snowplow. The harvesting blades were removed and replaced instead with a V-shaped snow blade – which Richard insists can shift snow up to 3-feet deep. The Dominator has a diesel V8 which powers the chunky front wheels only, and has a top speed of just 12mph. Since the top speed is so low, James is chosen to drive it and gets a bit of practice in around a small gravel car park – he struggles to get used to the rear wheel steering. The boys modified the harvester in such a way that the tube which usually sprays harvested wheat out the back now shoots grit instead – to deploy on the road after the snow has been scraped away. To ensure the grit does not damage any following cars, and old BMW is parked behind the outlet and James turns the gritter on. The grit hits the car with such force that it smashes the windows out sandblasts the paint. Another problem for the TG team is that there isn’t actually any snow left in Britain as the weather has warmed up – so they go to Norway instead to test out their new creation.
For the first test, the boys decide to clear snow off a frozen lake, to create a runway on which a small plane can land – but before they get to work they decide to check the ice thickness. Jeremy cores a hole and finds out it is only 45cm thick. After referring to a guide, it is determined that the ice should support 12 tonnes of weight – unfortunately the Dominator weighs 13 tonnes. Bravely, they go ahead regardless and the ice creaks loudly as it drives onto the lake. With James at the wheel, the boys get straight to work and begin to plow in a straight line – but it didn’t last long. In less than a minute one of the front wheels breaks through the ice and the Dominator begins to sink. James reverses the plow out and the boys inspect the giant hole it has created. They press on regardless and eventually a extremely rough looking “runway” is produced. A light plane comes in to land – which actually goes well until the plane hits a rough patch at low speed and turns sideways. Jeremy, Richard and James decide to not stick around and flee the scene.
In the news, Jeremy mentions a new Nissan S-Flow concept car and James announces that in the next 007 book James Bond will be driving a Bentley Continental. Jeremy also shows us the new Infiniti Etherea.
In the next segment, Jeremy re-affirms that the best fast saloon car available has always been the BMW M3 – there’s now a new version and he takes it to the track to see what’s what. The M3 now has stop/start technology which automatically turns off the V8 engine when you’re at traffic lights. Matt paint is also available as a £1750 option – however Jeremy doesn’t like it as you can’t take it to a carwash, polish it and any bird droppings must be removed immediately. However the biggest new feature available on the M3 is the “Competition Pack”, which costs £3300 – this gives you bigger wheels and tyres, lowered ride height, and a few tweaks to the traction & stability controls. After flinging it around a few corners, Jeremy believes that “most of the time it makes absolutely no difference at all” to the car. In a straight line it is no faster than a standard M3 and around corners it feels exactly the same too. The Competition Pack does in fact have one noticeable feature – pressing the EDC button twice engages Sport Mode. Jeremy says “It doesn’t make any difference to the speed you go, but it does make the car very uncomfortable”.
Jeremy decides to put the M3 up against the new Audi RS5. The RS5 is 4-wheel drive and has a Lamborghini derived 4.2L V8 – which curiously has a device which fires a drop of petrol into the exhaust when you change gear. Jeremy gets behind the wheel and puts it up against the BMW M3 with a Stig in it. Despite the RS5 having 30bhp more, it simply can’t keep up with the 414bhp M3. In the corners the heavier RS5 understeers badly and it can’t catch the M3 on the straights. Jeremy offers his final opinion – “I thought the RS5 would be a modern day version of the original Quattro – a hardcore fire-spitting monster. A machine born in the forests – rough, brutal, exciting. But it isn’t. It’s comfortable, relaxing and quiet – and I’m sorry but if that’s what you want, why £58,000 on a 4-wheel drive V8 with an air brake? In short then, neither of these cars really works – and as a result we’re back where we started. If you want a small fast saloon, buy a standard M3”. Back in the studio, the M3 & RS5 are taken for a lap on a moist track – the M3 is fastest with a 1:26.5 and the RS5 is exactly 1 second slower.
Jeremy introduces Amber Heard as the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car. Amber laps a 1:50.30 – the slowest dry lap recorded so far in the Kia Cee’d.
Back with the TG Snowplow in Norway, the boys head out again late in the evening and end up terrorising a small town while they attempt to clear snow from it’s roads. As they clear snow from the high street , Jeremy shoots fire out the back to help de-ice the road – Richard says “It’s like we’re International Rescue. We are Thunderbirds. Cruising Norway, looking for people who need our services”. The boys eventually call it a night and the next morning they find an article in the newspaper reporting the disastrous events of the night before. James suggests they leave town and try to clear snow from a 10km mountain pass which runs between two towns instead. After a few preparations, James sets off and begins clearing snow from the road with 80’s music blaring out of the Dominator’s cassette player. Jeremy and Richard swing into action with the grit thrower and de-icing flamethrower. The rear wheel steering causes problems for James, as the rear end slides out and swings side to side on more than a few occasions. The Dominator’s slow speed also caused problems when going up hill – getting stuck in deep snow. Before digging it out, Jeremy attempts to test the snow thickness by diving into it – which fails hilariously and results in nothing but a sore head. After a few more kilometers the Dominator comes off the road and sinks into a deep snow drift. Jeremy tests it again by diving in and this time it goes up to his shoulders. With the sun setting, Richard and Jeremy eventually dig it out and James manages to rock it back and fourth several times to break free at last. By nightfall they successfully reach the town at the other end of the road and complete their challenge.
“Some say that in his wallet he keeps a photograph of his wallet, and that in a recent race even he was beaten by the King’s speech. All we know is he’s called the Stig!”
Stig Power Laps
BMW M3 (Competition Pack)
Star in a Reasonably Priced Car