The final instalment of Top Gear’s fifteenth season premiered in the UK, and the team has certainly ended another spectacular season on a high.
On the back of securing their highest-profile guests ever in last week’s episode – in the form of Cameron Diaz and Tom Cruise – for the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car segment, it was perhaps going to be hard to beat this time around. But the crew managed to secure the appearance of Independence Day and Jurassic Park star Jeff Goldblum.
Having never driven a manual car in his life, Goldblum somehow conspired to break the automatic version of the KIA C’eed given to him, and his power lap sees him touring around in third gear, not realising that he had fourth and fifth gears at his disposal to make the car go quicker!
The mainstay of this episode was an attempt to find out why the British sports car industry – famous for marques such as Lotus, Jensen, TVR, MG and the like – went to the wall in the face of poor build quality and the hot hatch revolution.
Given a budget of just £5000 each, the hosts buy old British roadsters for a series of everyday challenges. Clarkson buys a Jensen Healey; May buys a TVR; Hammond buys a 1990s Lotus Elan. Some of the challenges are everyday ones – such as establishing how limited the boot space is when trying to accommodate a rose arch from a garden centre – but the others are more interesting, such as testing which of the cars is able to pass under a B-double truck’s trailer without getting decapitated!
What’s particularly amusing is how the traditional poor build quality of these roadsters are unabashedly described by the hosts as “safety features” – such as when Hammond’s Lotus sheds a roof clip and its driver’s window is unable to close. Hammond argues that the roof clip departure is a weight-saving feature, while the window fault serves a great purpose of keeping its driver alert on the road in the middle of a rainstorm.
Season 16 cannot come around soon enough!