And perhaps as a welcome distraction to Robert Kubica’s current maladies, the latest instalment of Top Gear hit the British TV airwaves and it was another particularly good episode from the world’s most-watched car show.
And showing no less relevance than ever, the three hosts made sure they avoided key war topics stemming from previous episodes, keeping any discussion of Mexicans and Islam to an absolute minimum!
The main of this episode was a letter apparently received from a member of Albania’s mafia, asking for their recommendations as to the ideal getaway car. And in true Top Gear fashion, the show heads to the former Communist state to compare a Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG, a Rolls Royce Ghost and a Bentley Mulsanne disguised as a Yugo.
In tried and tested fashion, Clarkson, Hammond and May put the cars through their paces as they explore the Baltic state – including determining which is best a concealing a body in the boot, and which would prove the best getaway car – while also discovering a great deal about the nation’s scenery and its past.
A couple of interesting facts stemming from the episode: some 80% of cars registered in Albania are from Mercedes Benz, and the majority of cars frequently have their chassis and engine numbers filed off a weight-saving feature…
Comedian Jonathan Ross makes a return to the show in the Star in a Reasonably-Priced Car segment, improving on his last lap time around the test track – admittedly, he got lost on his last visit! – in slippery conditions.
For me, the highlight of the episode was a three-way test performed by Clarkson comparing the latest additions to the hot-hatch landscape.
The first candidate was a Cosworth-engineered Subaru Impreza STI CS400, with the British engineering firm essentially taking all of the boring bits out of the Impreza and replacing them – effectively leaving you with a Subaru shell encasing some much-improved handling, albeit stymied by atrocious turbo lag.
The next candidate was the Ford Focus RS500, with the 300+bhp front-wheel drive beast delivering a top speed of 165mph.
The final challenger – and I will admit with great reluctance is my favourite – was a Polestar-engineered Volvo C30 PPC, with the race-tuned hatchback producing a phenomenal 400bhp! The car goes like a rocket, but incredibly, Volvo won’t put it into production. A shame indeed…