Having demonstrated a remarkable turnaround in writing form last week, the crew at Top Gear had every reason to believe that its latest episode instalment – which hit the airwaves overnight in the UK – would continue that form.
And in many respects, this was achieved with another solid effort that harked back to the show’s better days.
We open with a segment seen in the show’s recently-released DVD special, At the Movies (reviewed here on RichardsF1.com), in which Richard Hammond takes on a rocket-powered flying man while he is the passenger in a rally-spec Škoda Fabia. This is a spectacularly-shot segment, although its exact point is perhaps left in the dark…
Next up, Jeremy Clarkson takes a look at the new sports car instalments from Maserati and Mercedes, with the Italian carmaker pumping out the (awfully long-wheelbased) Gran Turismo MC Stradale and Mercedes’ AMG branch producing the C63 ‘Black Series’, resplendent in a lurid yellow paint scheme.
Both cars are stunning, but equally troubled: the Maserati’s gearbox is woeful, while the Merc chews through tyres like I chow down candy. Cue plenty of shots of tail slides and tyre smoke.
Dr Who’s new front man, Matt Smith, is this episode’s ‘Star In A Reasonably Priced Car’, and he takes a turn to be ‘The Fastest Dr Who’ around the show’s test track in his reasonably-priced KIA.
And the episode closes with James May and Jeremy paying tribute to the quirky and sadly deceased carmaker, Saab, which recently closed its doors after years of producing ultra-safe, overpriced cars that it tried to market as being the equivalent of a jet fighter (Saab used to manufacturer jets in its previous life).
Anyone who’s driven a Saab (with the exception of its 99 Turbo model) will know that the cars are closer to barges than jets, and while few motorists would mourn the brand’s demise, it remains an important part of motoring history. The duo perform a fitting – and in Saab style, overly detailed – tribute to the former Swedish giant.
Oh, and keep an eye for a couple of quick clips in the ‘News’ segment early in the episode, when James and Jeremy prove that multitasking is possible behind the wheel – Jeremy drives around the test track while sewing a button onto his shirt, while James attempts to lap the track while fully encased in a sleeping bag!