- Jeremy road tests the Volvo S60 R.
- James drives the GM HyWire around an industrial estate.
- Richard road tests the Vandenbrink Carver.
- Jeremy drives the Vauxhall Signum.
- Star in a Reasonably Priced Car: Patrick Stewart.
This episode begins with Jeremy performing a power test on the new Volvo S60 R – a car which Volvo says, is a rival for the BMW M3. Jeremy doesn’t see what they’re on about, “It’s got a phone, fabulously comfortable seats, cruise control.. and it feels soft and flobbery, like a big woolly Bison. It’s not that fast, either. It may have a turbo and two intercoolers, but it still only develops 300bhp – way less than you get from the Germans.” But the secret, Jeremy says, is in the details. The S60 R features an adaptive suspension system, allowing it to be changed between Comfort, Sport and Advanced driving modes. Add to this, the S60R also has four wheel drive and two traction control systems. But these systems alone aren’t enough to morph it into an M3 rival.
Back in the studio, Jeremy mentions that the Volvo refused to perform tyre-smoking power slides which are usually seen during power tests. James leafs through the brochure and discovers a lot of the technology in the car is aimed more towards safety, rather than having fun. The traction control system was difficult to turn off completely, but Top Gear managed to work it out and then handed the car to the Stig – who lapped the track with a time of 1:35.00.
In the news, Richard touches on the Ford Focus C-Max – basically a taller version of the Focus that still only has 5 seats. Jeremy mentions that if the conservatives are elected, they’ll up motorway speed limits to 80mph, remove most speed cameras and speed bumps and abolish the M4 bus lane. Not to be outdone, the opposing Labor party has promised to widen every road in Britain. James talks about man named Jeff who made a steam powered bicycle, “What this bloke has done is he’s taken one old technology, one outdated technology, he’s combined them together to create something genuinely useless.”
Jeremy then introduces us to the new Mazda RX-8, which just arrived in the Top Gear studio, fresh from Japan. Top Gear wanted James to rest it, but he instead chose to visit Germany to drive a car which runs on seawater – the GM Hywire. The Hywire runs on a mixture of hydrogen from the tank and oxygen from the air. It accelerates by twisting two grips on the steering wheel, and then squeezing them to brake. It also has LCD monitors in the cabin instead of typical rear vision mirrors. The Hywire also has no mechanical linkages between the body and the chassis – meaning the body can easily be unbolted and replaced with a different one – whether it be a van, utility or something else.
Next, the boys hold another news style segment, looking at new car related gadgets you can buy. Richard shows us an LCD sign you can display in the rear window of your car and use to send messages to other drivers. Richard also shows us an F1 style alarm clock which features the great sounds of a Formula 1 car. Jeremy plays with the LCD sign and finds out that it actually censors swear words. James shows us LED’s which attach to your vehicle’s wheels and can display text or images as the wheel spins. Richard shows us a stereo which can store your entire music library. James also shows us a new shirt which apparently irons itself using body heat. Richard tries it on and ends up looking something like Jerry Seinfeld wearing a puffy shirt. Jeremy and James take two Segway scooters and ride around the studio on them.
Jeremy introduces Patrick Stewart as the Star In A Reasonably Priced Car. Patrick talks about his love of Jaguars and what it is like living in Los Angeles, before achieving a time of 1:50.00.
Next, Richard road tests the new Vandenbrink Carver – a three-wheeled bike with a tandem cockpit which tilts side to side as you turn the steering wheel. The Carver costs £22,000 – expensive but not enough to discourage Richard from wanting one. Back in the studio, Jeremy mentions that he and his wife took the Carver to a party. After having too much to drink, Jeremy had to ride home in the back seat with his wife at the wheel. With that challenge set, Jeremy and Richard attempt to fit in it at the same time – with Jeremy essentially straddling Richard with a leg on either side of the driver’s seat.
James and Richard do Insider Dealing, where they look at some good deals on the Saab 9-3, Audi TT, BMW 320d, Mercedes C-Class 200, Maserati 4200GT and Ford Fiesta, Ford Car, Toyota Yaris.
Finally, Jeremy goes for a drive in the Vauxhall Signum. Jeremy despises its Vectra-ness of the car and finds it poor to drive. He also discovers two storage bins in the roof which don’t seem to be able to store anything aside from sticks of celery, “and that shows a level of thoughtfulness and attention to detail that we’ve simply not seen from any other car maker. Every other car I’ve ever driven, the celery just kind of rolls around getting in the way of all the major controls, which is poor and can be dangerous. No really, who else provides storage for celery. Not even the new Rolls Royce has that.”
Jeremy admits that the rear seating is very clever and comfortable. As a result, he tries to drive “Mr. Bean style”, by using string tied to the steering wheel and poles to reach the pedals.
Stig Power Laps
Volvo S60 R
Star in a Reasonably Priced Car