Top Gear’s fourth episode of its seventeenth series aired overnight in the UK, and it came full of everything you’d expect as a fan of the show: fast cars, crazy stunts and plenty of superlatives.
Yet in spite of this, this episode feels too familiar. And whether or not that’s a good thing is up to the individual viewer, of course.
First up, Jeremy Clarkson profiles the new superfast Jaguar XKR-S – a very unattractive machine, it should be said – and pitches it against Nissan’s almighty GTR. It’s little surprise, despite its refinements and enormous power, that the Jag is handsomely thumped by a car that’s been designed to do this all along. Stick to what you’re good at, Jaguar, this time of genre is not your thing.
This episode’s challenge saw the hosts trying to make travel more interesting by building cheap trains using modified cars and caravans. Hilarity ensues, but it’s fairly predictable that the entire project derails and the caravans – loathsome beasts to Top Gear – are destroyed.
But the ratings are still through the roof and the show’s as popular as ever, which has really seen it progress amazingly when it comes to pulling celebrity guests for their Star in a Reasonably-Priced Car segment.
Granted, some of the guests have high status but wouldn’t know a gear lever from a hair curler, while others have a very detailed relationship with cars. And there’s no truer a word said than for ‘Mr Bean’s’ Rowan Atkinson, a man with a remarkable collection of cars, including a McLaren F1 and a Honda NSX.
And cudos to Top Gear for luring this notoriously shy man into its studios to wax lyrical about cars. His hot lap in the KIA Cee’d is truly one to behold, as he contorts his face (and the car) around the test track’s twists and turns. Dare we suggest that Rowan – a skilled driver in his own right – could be a great understudy for the current Stig?