- Richard tests the TVR T350C.
- Jeremy drives the Volkswagen Phaeton.
- James checks out the Cadillac Sixteen.
- Richard finds Britain’s fastest disabled racer.
- Jeremy power tests the Overfinch Range Rover.
- Star in a Reasonably Priced Car: Alan Davies.
Review: Richard reviews TVR T350C and races it against a Harrier Jump Jet. He finds that while it can be as mad as past TVRs, it is the most refined and drivable TVR ever. The Stig did a lap of 1:27 in it. It was compared to the Noble M12, which did a lap of 1:25.
The News: The Beetle will cease production, much to James’ delight. The Vauxhall Astra fails to live up to the concept car’s brilliant styling. John Prescott, who is always recommending that people spend less on cars, last year spent £320,000 on taxi fares. Jay Kay turned up at Goodwood Festival Of Speed with his new Ferrari Enzo only to have someone write “Jodi was faster” in the dust on the bonnet (a reference to the Top Gear Power Lap Board and specifically episode 8 in this series). Jeremy was also there and was thrilled that Elle Macpherson (who was also there) waved at him. The Mercedes Mclaren SLR was also there and Clarkson got to ride in it, but was too drunk to enjoy it.
Review: Jeremy drives the Volkswagen Phaeton W12; he says it is immensely comfortable, nice to drive and its windows do not steam up when you try to make a cup of tea in it. With the electronic limiter off, it can crack 200 mph (320 km/h). He is not verbose in praising it, but reveals that he prefers it to the Jaguar XJ, the BMW 7 Series, and the Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
Preview: The trio preview the Bentley Continental GT in the studio. The Bentley (part of the VW motor group), draws heavily from the Phaeton. The car in the studio is a concept car and not ready to be driven, but all three are anxious to do the test of it for the next series.
Star In A Reasonably-Priced Car: Alan Davies talks about what it is like driving with Steve Coogan and an experience he had speeding with Steve Coogan, did a lap of 1:54 in “mildly damp” weather, despite puncturing a tyre during a practice lap.
Review: James is the only one interested in the fate of Cadillac, so he sets out to see what they’ve done to reverse their market woes. He finds the astonishing 1,000 bhp (750 kW), naturally aspirated 13.6 litre V16 Cadillac Sixteen concept car. It shuts down cylinders to preserve fuel economy and has a badge carved from crystal in the center of the steering wheel. The interior is too cushy and the clock is too posh, but James loves it. Jeremy and James agree that this is the best Cadillac since 1966.
Challenge: Britain’s fastest disabled driver. Richard has a group of six wheelchair-bound car enthusiasts take turns around the Top Gear Test Track in a 911. The slowest does it in a time of 2:20. The fastest turns in a time of 1:47.
2003 Top Gear Motoring Survey: James invites viewers to participate in the survey so the results can be shared on the next survey.
Reviews: The original theme of this episode was to be “tuned cars.” However, as Clarkson illustrates, circumstances dictated a deviation from that format. His review of the Overfinch 580S is all that remains from that concept. He races it off-road against a Mercedes-Benz SLK320 on road (and wins). While it has been tuned, the suspension and handling remains unchanged. It is fast in a straight line, but in the corners it leans over alarmingly. Despite The Stig cutting a corner rather severely, it achieved the slowest lap to date with a time of 1:44. The Stig says it was the first time he has ever been scared in a car.
The Broken Biscuit Section: A compendium of ideas that were intended for the series that they didn’t quite get to. Earlier in the series Clarkson issued a challenge to the CEO of Land Rover: he was to drive a Range Rover for six months without breakdowns, threatening to kill the CEO’s dog upon any kind of failure. Jeremy shows how the Range Rover has fared with numerous tests: it worked as an off-road car, a pace car and a car for taking children to school in (although it was a mess). However, the lever adjusting the vertical position of the steering wheel broke towards the end of the test. Richard and Jeremy agreed the failure was not big enough to warrant a death of a dog, so Jeremy stole the CEO’s bonsai tree from his desk and unceremoniously proceeded to cut it in half. Also, Hammond obtains a racing license, participates in a 24-hour race, and makes a lot of excuses for placing second to last. And Jodie Kidd is presented with the fastest celebrity award.
Stig Power Laps
Overfinch Range Rover
1:44.00 (very wet)
Star in a Reasonably Priced Car
1:54.00 (mildly moist)