- The Stig does a lap in the new NSX, to help Honda decide if they’ll sell it in the UK.
- Jeremy roadtests the new Renault Vel Satis.
- Jason Dawe brings the grannies back for handbrake parking.
- Richard drives the BMW Z4 in Portugal.
- The Cool Wall is introduced for the first time.
- Jason Dawe with Insider Dealing.
- Jeremy tests his own Mercedes AMG SL55.
- Star in a Reasonably Priced Car: Tara Palmer-Tomkinson.
This episode starts out with Jeremy showing off some new props in the studio – new cushions, flowers – even some breath freshener. (Because Tara Palmer-Tomkinson is the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car)
Richard moves on to the Honda NSX Type-R. It’s been a fairly unsuccessful car, even if Ayrton Senna did help in its development process. Due to flagging sales, Honda shipped their latest NSX to Top Gear in the hope that a lap around the track with the Stig may help generate some interest in the car so it could potentially be sold in Britain. On a soaking track, it managed a 1:33.00.
Jeremy switches to the Renault Vel Satis, a car he describes as “cool” – to find out how good it is, he takes it to Swindon for a road test. Jeremy is impressed with the comfort, quietness and solidity – and the power from the 3.5L V6, which is capable of 147mph. While the suspension is great on smooth motorways, Jeremy discovers it’s very soft and bouncy after turning off on to a side road and also tends to crash through potholes. He states “The Vel Satis is like an avocado – funny skin and mostly soft but with a surprising rock hard stone in the middle”. Jeremy arrives at a business park to see if the car’s styling will fit in. Businessmen want conformity – to blend in – something the Vel Satis simply cannot do. Back in the studio, Jeremy admits he likes the styling of the car, but that he’d never buy one because it’s rubbish. Richard introduces the Renault Megane, a car that shares the same unconventional styling. Jason then shows us the Renault Avantime – a completely pillar-less people mover.
Jason continues with the grannies from last week – they’ve been brought back to attempt handbrake parking. This involves spinning the car through 180 degrees, sliding the car sideways into a parking space (with big inflatable blocks on either end of the parking space). Russ Swift also returns as the tutor. Sadie went first and managed to spin the car 180 degrees, but hit the inflatable block hard with the back of the car. Joy was up next, and failed to even initiate a spin.. simply driving past. Ann successfully spun 180 degrees and parked the car. Gwyneth also parked, however spun a bit further than 180 degrees – and Beryl’s park was almost identical.
In the news, Jeremy announces Nissan are returning to motorsport by entering the Dakar Rally. Jason talks about the latest MX5, while Richard brings up ‘The Fast and the Furious’ – which Jeremy declares is the “Worst film ever made by human beings”. Jeremy mentions the Renault Vel Satis again – as it has been voted ‘Tow car of the Year’. Jeremy wonders how it won against a Range Rover – and goes on to say it’s because “it’s got automatic headlights, wipers and an F1 style integrated fuel filler cap.” All critical things when it comes to towing a caravan, obviously…
Richard continues by driving the BMW Z4 in Portugal, after BMW offered to pay for all his expenses and accommodation. The Z4 is bigger, bolder and much more substantial than the Z3. Richard mentions the new image and price tag pitch the Z4 into a different market – putting it up against the Audi TT roadster and the Porsche Boxter. Richard loves roadsters, but says you can’t compare them on figures alone, and that “It’s about the look, the sound, the feel of it”. He believes BMW have managed to fix all the problems the Z3 used to suffer from, and created a good car.
Jeremy introduces the Cool Wall for the first time. He talks about how the wall works, and that it’s not just based on the cars looks, or how good it drives – and the fact that bad cars can actually be cool. The BMW Z4 and Fiat Multipla are both placed under “Cool”. The Lexus IS200 turns out to be “Seriously Uncool” after falling off the “Uncool” section. The Audi TT borders on ‘Seriously Uncool’, while Jeremy thinks the Renault Avantime is ‘Sub Zero”, much to the dismay of everyone else in the studio.
Jeremy introduces the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car, Tara Palmer-Tomkinson. Tara manages to lap a 1:54.00 on a wet track.
Jason Dawe presents Insider Dealing, where he mentions deals on the Suzuki Liana, plus the best times to buy a car. Jason moves on to the Volkswagen Golf, a car he says never goes out of date. Jason goes over the Golf’s history, then drives the Mark-4 Golf and says it’s the best second hand buy. Jason recommends steering clear of the automatic gearbox, and to hunt down a car with air conditioning. He also suggests buying one in a desirable colour, as it will affect it’s value.
Jeremy returns to the Cool Wall – with the Mercedes SL. He places the old 1960’s model in ‘Sub Zero’, but the 70’s and 80’s versions in ‘Uncool” and “Seriously Uncool” respectively. Jeremy walks across the studio and introduces the new Mercedes SL500. He suggests the car still isn’t cool – but that it’s bigger brother the AMG tuned SL55 is. The SL55 runs a supercharged 5.5L V8 with almost 500bhp, and a top speed of over 200mph. But Jeremy isn’t doing 200mph on the test track, infact he’s doing under 20mph – because the car he’s driving is actually his. Jeremy mentions he sold a Ferrari 355 to buy the SL55. The SL has a folding metal roof which folds into the boot, despite this, the boot still has ample storage space remaining. Jeremy concedes the SL doesn’t handle as well as his old 355, mainly due to the sheer weight of it. Jeremy sums both cars up: “The Ferrari is like a stiletto – sleek, accurate, deadly. This on the other hand, is more like a hammer – big, a bit clumsy… but it’ll still kill you. Actually, not a hammer – It’s more like a Swiss army knife. It’s a top down funster, a long distance cruiser, a muscle car, a Messerschmitt ME109, a pose-mobile, and if your horse gets a stone in it’s shoe… it can deal with that too”.
After the review, Jeremy begins to wrap up the show, however Richard interrupts and announces he secretly gave the car to the Stig after stealing the keys. The SL55 laps a very wet track in 1:33.00.
Stig Power Laps
Mercedes SL55 AMG (Jeremy’s own car)
Star in a Reasonably Priced Car
04:17 – 05:03 – Rob Dougan – Clubbed to Death (Kurayamino Mix)
06:00 – 06:21 – Rob Dougan – Clubbed to Death (Kurayamino Mix)
06:56 – 08:21 – Rob Dougan – Clubbed to Death (Kurayamino Mix)
38:29 – 38:44 – DJ Shadow – Mongrel