Top Gear Season 16 Episode 1 review!

Hello my fellow readers! How was your new year going so far? Mine was definitely awesome with my weekly dose of Top Gear! Yes, the latest episode of Top Gear is finally here after more than a month of waiting. With the previous episode being the Christmas Special and therefore not considered an official episode, only this is the first episode for the 16th season so forgive me for calling the Christmas Special the first episode. Anyway, back to my full review of the first episode!

At the beginning of the show, Jeremy would start by saying how nice is it to be back and later talk about bad broadband connections on the iPlayer. He later introduced the Ariel Atom and told us that there is a newer version of it . Jeremy went on to tell us that someone will be testing it for us, :” He was born in a stable, and his name……is James May.”

The normal Ariel Atom has a 2.0 liter engine with 275 hp which is more than necessary for such a light car, and to give you an idea how much power that is, a pretty quick Volkswagen Golf GTi have around 200 hp. Now with a 3.0 liter V8, this Atom V8 has 500 hp! A car with half the horsepower of a Buggati Veyron but weight less than half the weight. Now that is face-ripping quick!

Weighing at a super light 550kg, the Ariel Atom is super agile as well. But with all this power sending to the rear wheels, the Atom V8 tends to oversteer during tight corners. May then went on to test the Atom’s 0-60mph time of 2.5 second by having a small demonstration. The rivals: Lexus LFA and Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera The objective: Reach 100 mph then back to zero as quickly as they can

The results: The Ariel got a quick lead at first and by the time the rivals started to catch up, the Ariel already braked and stopped the first. The LFA came to a halt next, followed by the Gallardo. The Ariel won and left May laughing at the two supercars.

So far so good, but then the Ariel has hardly any equipments in the car, no radio, no air-con, no glove box, no boot, no everything. This car is bare and you still have to pay almost a hundred thousand pounds for this limited edition car. But remember that the bespoke engine and gearbox already worth half of that. So come to think about it, it is actually kinda good in value for so much performance.

Still not convinced that the Ariel Atom V8 is very quick around a track? Well, the producers had another challenge for the Ariel and May. A race around the Top Gear test track against a BMW S1000 RR, the world’s most powerful bike. And to make matters worse, the bike will be ridden by British Evo Superbike Champion, Steve Brogan.

James May then protested that it was not fair for the Atom to be driven by a normal person (him). But the producers insisted that the driver to be a Top Gear presenter. May kept quite and then the camera filming him suddenly “fell” to the ground. All we could see next was supposedly the shoes and jeans May was wearing just now, we then see the body going into the Ariel Atom. I sense something fishy here.

During the whole period of the intense race which was very close (Ariel Atom V8 won), May was narrating the whole race in a blurry voice which should be the sound when speaking through a helmet, but the voice sounded very artificial.

The truth was revealed when the camera which filmed the finish line “accidentally” filmed May standing right beside, speaking to a microphone with his mouth covered with his sleeve to mimic the voice coming through a helmet. So who was driving the Atom V8 then? Well, the driver was indeed the famous Tiff Needel from Fith Gear who was once a Top Gear presenter a long long time ago.

So, now time to see how fast the Ariel goes around the Top gear test track, but of course last time we saw the new replacement Stig, he was still a baby. May then told us that The Stig grows up pretty quickly and Jeremy even went on and showed us pictures of The Stig in school, been a teenager, and university. The lap was obviously quick. But how quick? Well the fastest was 1.16.8 set by the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport and the Atom V8 broke that record with a time of 1.15.1. Fastest car on the Top Gear test track!

Right before they do the news, Hammond showed us the Jaguar CX-75 concept car, which is Jaguar’s 75th anniversary birthday present to itself. The CX-75 is an electric car with 780 bhp, with an electric motor powering each wheel. And powering those electric motors are a set of small gas turbines (jet engines) which can be fueled by almost any flammable liquid. May also joked that if you want to save money, you can also fuel it with single malt scotch whiskey.

Finally to the news, and the news started of with the introduction of the new Lancia Stratos which cost half a million pounds. Then they talked about the Jensen Interceptor restoring program where you pay a hundred grand and they will fit in a Corvette’s 6.2 liter V8 engine, new interior, rear suspensions, and new brakes. Moving on to the news, the three boys talked about the Murcielago replacement, an American supercar called the Dagger with ambitious claims, as well as fuel prices and how not braking your car will save money….but not lives. All this in a funny way of course!

Is the end of the news. Now to the next featured car, the Skoda Yeti in which Jeremy called it as “the best car…in the world (Jeremy’s deep voice)” and that ” the Yeti does every single thing better than any other car on the market.” The following challenges for the Skoda Yeti shall prove his point:

Is is roomier than a £ 300,000 Maybach? The Maybach may be able to carry four people in sumptuous comfort, but the Yeti can also take four person but with some extra practicality feature. The rear drinks tray for example, can be pushed back up to seat five altogether. The rear seats can also be pushed back and forth, and even fold down flat or rollover to carry flat packages. And to make it even more roomier, the rear seats could be removed to create a van. The Skoda Yeti then, is much more roomier than a Maybach. Next challenge!

Is it faster than an Italian supercar? To find out, Jeremy will be racing the Skoda Yeti against a Ferrari 308 GTS at the Donington Motor Racing track. The Ferrari soon had a huge lead ahead of the Yeti, but Jeremy reckoned that “the it’s lead is short-lived.” He was right. The Donington track was currently rebuilt at certain places, and the low-slung Ferrari have to slow down over unfinished track sections to prevent from scratching the bumper. While the taller Yeti on the other hand, does not need to stop on uneven surfaces. Predictably, the Skoda Yeti once again won the challenge.

How well is the interior screwed together? To test this out, Jeremy will throw a bouncy ball into the car and a dog shall retrieve it back to Jeremy. The first however, did not respond after the ball was thrown in as it was distracted by a fly. The second backup dog was much smaller, so even after going in to retrieve the ball, the test hardy did the car any justice.

So to seriously test out the interior quality of the Yeti, Jeremy had another test for it. At a small place, there is a small fire and a fire engine team is ready to put out that fire. The problem is, the only route to reach the fire was blocked by the Skoda Yeti. All the firemen have no choice but to squeeze themselves through the Yeti with their full fire gear (oxygen tank, gas mask, helmet, thick fire-proof clothing, boots). They even have to bring the fire hose through the car to put out the fire.

Remember that all seats of the Yeti are not removed and the firemen are all full-grown man. Jeremy told us that this will test out whether the Yeti can handle our children’s “jammy dodges”. Even I must admit that this test is really effective in testing out the quality of a car’s interior, especially for family cars where children loves to play around in aggressively. After some hard squeezing and pushing through, all the firemen managed to put out the fire without braking any parts in the interior of the Yeti. Success!

Moving on, Jeremy brought the Yeti for some off-road driving. He mentioned all the electronic aids which are helping the car getting the best grip in rough roads which includes, ABS, EDC, EDB, ASR, EDL, DSR, and ES-BS. Jeremy was also impressed by the sat-nav which will trace his current off-road route which don’t have roads to be shown on the screen. This allow Jeremy to turn back to his previous off-road route without getting lost. Brilliant technology, but Jeremy’s off-road trail did create a slightly inappropriate shape on the screen.

How well does the Yeti absorb the bumps and the bashes? The test for the following challenge will sound a bit painful, so to all who can feel pain just by reading painful stuff please avoid this section. Ok, the test for this is that Jeremy will drive the Yeti and a Range Rover with off-road settings respectively around a bumpy countryside. While at the back of the cars, a tattooist will give someone a real tattoo, the one with the most perfect tattoo wins!

The supposedly comfortable Range Rover was set to the highest ground clearance settings and therefore very bouncy around the countryside. The tattoo given in the Rangie was therefore not brilliant compared to the one done on the yeti. The Yeti wins again! Now the next test is a bit odd and Jeremy said that many people requested for this.

Can you get Sienna Miller in the glove box? Jeremy opened the glove box and you know what? Sienna’s head was just poking out from the glove box and said how comfortable she was in there. So the answer is a yes!

How good is the air-conditioning? Roll-Royce always used to say that their air-conditioning had the cooling power of 30 domestic fridges. So can the Yeti beat that? To find out, Jeremy will be holding an ice-cream on one hand while driving the Yeti into a building raging with fire. An if the ice-cream melts and dirty Jeremy’s hand, the air-con is no good.

The temperature inside the building is 900 degrees, and that is very hot considering you only need 180 degrees to roast a chicken. Jeremy set the air-con of the Yeti to a cool 18 degrees and with the help of a cheap temperature gauge, the gauge reads 18.7 degrees all the way to the end. Jeremy was impressed. Another win for the Yeti!

Can you land a helicopter on it? To find out, the Yeti was fitted with a 100kg heli pad on top of it while a 600kg helicopter will try to land above the pad. No modifications had been made to the structure of the Yeti or even the suspension. The most crucial thing to make sure that this goes well is for Jeremy to maintain his speed as steady as possible. In the end, the helicopter successfully landed on top of the Yeti, making it the best car in the world. There is no such thing as the best car in the world, but the Yeti is definitely one capable all-rounder!

Now is time for a ‘Star In a Reasonably Priced Car’, and the guest for the day was famous British stand-up comedian, John Bishop. The conversation went on with some hilarious twist and we later get to see John’s rather quick-looking lap. The time he got really surprised everyone as he was the fastest star with a time of 1.42.8 beating Tom Cruise’s 1.44.2 lap time! Congrats to John Bishop!

Now to the next featured car, the Porsche 911. The producers said that the 911 “was just a VW Beetle with a spoiler”. Hammond had enough of this and wanted to prove them wrong. The Porsche 911 may have not changed much in terms of looks over the years, but in fact, everything else is different under the body after all these years of evolution. Hammond admits that is the VW Beetle which slowly evolves into the 911 we see today, but to call it as a “glorified Beetle” in nonsense.

Hammond describe the Beetle as a “wretched, awful,miserable, spluttering, puttering, slow, noisy, ugly piece of hateful misery, and the worst attempt of the people’s car the world has ever suffered.” But from that evolves the 911, the “acknowledged, finest driver’s car”. And Hammond’s point is that the difference between these two is like the difference between ” an ape and a brain surgeon, or Jeremy and a brain surgeon”. Point taken.

The 911 Hammond will be driving is the Porsche 911 Turbo S Cabriolet. It may have four-wheel-drive, ceramic brakes and many other technical features, but it is not Hammond’s favorite 911 as it was a bit to complicated for his taste. The Turbo S later had a drag race with the Beetle and obviously the Porsche won by a huge gap. But how are we going to make the Beetle to travel as fast as the Porsche? We shall find out as Hammond takes us to a salt flat in South Africa…..

You may now be wondering that the Beetle will now have a huge powerful engine, but no. The Beetle will be hanged by a helicopter a mile above the ground. I believe you know where this is going by now. Yup, the Beetle will be dropped from a mile above while the Porsche have to race a mile to the finish line. Based on Hammond’s estimations and calculations, the Porsche should win by just a few seconds or less.

When the race began, the Beetle was leading as it was dropped by gravity. Halfway to the race however, the Beetle finally reached it’s terminal velocity at 125 mph and could not drop any faster while the Porsche could keep on accelerating. Unfortunately, the Beetle got a faster lead at the start and smashed to the ground four seconds before Hammond could reach the finish line. ” Noooooo not the Beetle!’ “My life is over!” These are the words coming out from disappointed Hammond. At least the Porsche don’t look as ugly as the Beetle now.

Before the show ends, Jeremy teased Hammond for losing to a Beetle “propelled only by gravity”. Hammond defended the Porsche by noting that the next generation 911 will be out soon, but Jeremy bet that it will still look the same as the old one. Thanks for reading another of my Top Gear review and I know that I’m a bit late in posting this but I am very busy lately.

Episode two was aired just yesterday and I hope I could finish that review as well before the next episode airs. And to save space on this post, I chose to display the screenshots i took in a slideshow form. This is indeed more convenient to all readers but you may not be able to view them in high-quality. If you want to have any of the screenshots in high-resolution, do please email me at Thanks again, and to all who will be celebrating it, I wish you all a Happy Chinese New Year!