- Jeremy tests the Vauxhall Astra VX-R, Renault Mégane Sport & Volkswagen Golf GTI.
- Richard and James play “Road Test Russian Roulette”.
- Richard shows us an attempt to set world record for the number of times a car has rolled at high speed.
- Jeremy road tests the BMW M5.
- Star in a Reasonably Priced Car: Chris Evans.
Main review: The new BMW M5, priced identically with the Mercedes-Benz CLS. Jeremy admits disappointment, and points out the list of failures in great detail: confusing electronic settings for everything, annoying sat-nav, jerky gearbox, uncomfortable ride, ugly exterior, non-cancelling indicator, and disappointing appreciation of speed with the 400 horsepower (300 kW) standard setting. Though the review then appears to be over, Jeremy presses the M button and the engine delivers 507 metric horsepower (373 kW; 500 bhp), the suspension stiffens, and the gearbox goes to a default race setting. In this form, it is spectacular to drive, but very fragile- it had to be mended before a lap could be done. In the hands of the Stig, it does a lap time of 1:26.2, putting it slightly faster than the CLS, but worse as an all-rounder.
Review: Clarkson drives three hot hatchbacks, the VW Golf GTI, RenaultSport Mégane, and the Vauxhall Astra VXR. Clarkson thinks the Astra is too powerful for a front-wheel drive car, resulting in disastrous understeer. Torque-steer always yanks the front wheels to the left, and the extra power is useless as it is slower than the Renault. Clarkson likes the Mégane, but would still buy a Golf instead, reiterating his decision in Series 5, Episode 6.
Challenge: Hammond and May play a game called “Road Test Russian Roulette”, which involved them having to test cars while driving the cars’ owners (which are supposed to be drunk) back to their homes. Hammond tries to be polite and avoid telling people that some parts of the car are rubbish, instead talking about spices and that part of the car. Clarkson tells him that he has cocked it up because of this approach.
Challenge: A new world record was set for the number of complete sideways rolls in a car. A stuntman managed to make a Ford Sierra estate complete 6 rolls – and survived.
Star in a reasonably priced car: Chris Evans who tells Jeremy about trying (and failing) to take old people to the shops during his five-year hiatus, Lap of 1:47.9
Greatest Driving Song of All Time: Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now”
“Some say that his voice can only be heard by cats, and that he has two sets of knees. All we know is he’s called the Stig.”
Stig Power Laps
Vauxhall Astra VXR
Star in a Reasonably Priced Car