Top Gear: Series 18, Episode 2

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  • Richard goes to Texas to learn about NASCAR racing.
  • Jeremy power tests the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster.
  • Jeremy and James travel to Beijing to look at Chinese cars.
  • Star in a Reasonably Priced Car: Matt Le Blanc.

Episode Guide

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Feature 1: Hammond travels to the Texas Motor Speedway for the AAA Texas 500[2] race to explore the world of NASCAR racing and to explain why he thinks NASCAR deserves more international credit than Clarkson believes it deserves, interviewing drivers Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, and Juan Pablo Montoya, and a riding along in a NASCAR stock car racer with Kyle Petty. Despite agreeing with Hammond, and after having repeated his accusation that Hammond is a secret American, Clarkson determines that NASCAR is only able to make sporting events much more exciting than it deserves to be on their own merits, adding that Formula One could learn a lot from them about how to make their racing more entertaining.

Review: Mercedes SLS AMG Roadster (Clarkson). An interesting if characteristically flawed, typically Clarksonian defence of a supercar which, in comparison to a lot of other machinery similar in kind, he inevitably concludes is more alluring than the establishment principally because it is expressly for people who don’t want to be sensible about their enjoyment of the open-top motoring experience. All in all, a modern, flawed, crazed, X-factor German roadster much in the vein of 1960’s and 70’s-era American muscle cars — fun because it’s just like a wild horse—the challenge is taming it. The SLS Roadster set a lap time of 1.19.6

News: The Boys do a slight rehash of some of their jokes from the previous week about how health and safety authorities are sticking their noses in and claiming driving is too difficult under any potentially distracting or unideal circumstances, in response to a new and illogical campaign statement about parking safety. After having a laugh at the darkened outline of a photograph of the new 2013 Dodge Viper, remarking that Chrysler must not have been confident enough about its styling to release any detail, they show photos of a Prius with a ghastly roof attachment for camping purposes. Following this comes a discussion off of the announcement of Renault’s new electric car, of all the typical practical jokes that motoring enthusiasts play on unsuspecting car owners as kids, and whose sense of humour, in various forms, carries through to adulthood, like unplugging batteries and turning small cars around in parking spaces to confuse owners about their positioning upon their return.

Feature 2: James and Jeremy head to Beijing to explore the emerging car industry in China, in response to the assertion that everyone will be driving Chinese cars in five years. Interestingly, some car manufacturers, namely luxury marques such as Audi, are producing market-specific models for sale only in China, whereas ultra-luxury or performance marques like Rolls-Royce, Bentley, and Aston Martin enjoy record-breaking sales there, despite the recession. And quite amazingly, national car production levels in China exceed that of all European output combined. The automotive populace increases in size by 38,000 cars every day, having attained a current figure of 85 million now, compared to just 1 million about 35 years ago. The laws changed in the early 1990s to accommodate large-scale, affordable car ownership. However, they discover that there is not much to offer, even now, that seems a match for potential European competitors. In fact, some of the better cars available from the Chinese market are oddly-named, facsimiles of popular car designs such as the BMW X5, the Mini, and the Toyota Aygo. The Stig’s Chinese cousin, who apparently enjoys randomly attacking people more than driving, takes two of the more modern offerings, including the equivalent of the forthcoming MG5, around a track for a spin. May and Clarkson themselves drive the two cars around Beijing and conclude that these cars seem to be much closer to what they should be compared to previous offerings, but still not up to standards in developed markets. At the end of the test, for a gag, Chinese Stig attacks James by kicking him in the “plums.” To end the show, 3 unknown Chinese presenters finish the show with the bit the boys usually do themselves in the UK. However, it is a chuckle to realize that “bombshell” does not quite translate into Mandarin.

Star In A Reasonably Priced Car: Former Friends cast member and car lover Matt LeBlanc, who set a time of 1.42.1, breaking the previous record of 1:42.2 held by Rowan Atkinson, and setting the fastest celebrity lap time yet recorded.

Some say…

“Some say that he’s the only man in Britain who knows what B&Q stand for, and that he can’t give his million pound bonus back because he’s already spent it on French breast implants. All we know is he’s called the Stig.”
“Some say he’s the Stig, but he isn’t. He’s the Stig’s Chinese cousin!”

Stig Power Laps

Mercedes SLS AMG Roadster
1:19.60

Star in a Reasonably Priced Car

Matt Le Blanc
1:42.10

Screenshots

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Rating: 8.6/10 (75 votes cast)

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