Welcome back to another of my Top Gear review! This episode is very interesting as the boys from Top Gear UK will challenge the boys from Top Gear Australia. Top Gear Australia sent them a letter which says: “Dear Top Gear UK, we are coming over to your stupid country soon and we want to take you on in a sort of car-based ashes. You pommy bas****” Yup, these are the rather unfriendly words coming from the letter they sent.
Now to the cars they will be using. And since they are British, they have a great variety of cars to choose from. The list includes, Jaguars, Land Rovers, Bentleys, Caterhams, Ariels, Morgans, Aston Martins, and of course, Lotus. With so many awesome cars to choose from, they have nothing to worry then.
You may be wondering, does Australia even have their very own car company? Well, they do and is called Holden. The models? The Holden Maloo pickup (called ute in Australia), and the Holden Commodore saloon. Ridiculous name I know, but both cars are powered by a 6.0 litre engine! Now that’s some worrying news for the British.
The Top Gear Australia hosts are Ewen Page, Steve Pizzati, and Shane Jacobson and they were being transported to their destination in a rather uncomfortable way (in a prison lorry). Anyway, after some hand shaking and introducing, their first challenge arrived…..
The challenge? A one kilometer drag race with their respective country’s commercial vehicle (van, trucks, pickups, utes, etc). The Aussies felt confident because it meant that they could use their 6.0 liter Maloo. The Brits never thought of this and never brought a commercial vehicle, Hammond then have to make use of a Ford Transit van borrowed from Jeremy’s mate.
Hammond and May was disappointed as they thought that they will lose the race. Jeremy however seemed confident and even gave a thumbs up behind the camera. Something is telling me that the result of the race will not turn out as we thought it would be.
When the green light was lit, the Maloo took the lead for…..less than one second. The so-called van immediately over took the Maloo in under two seconds, surprising everyone especially Hammond who was never expecting that. Shane who was driving the very powerful Maloo was stunned by the result!
The three Aussies complained and protested that that was not a van. Jeremy then proved it to them by opening the rear tailgate of the van, revealing the load bay. Steve questioned about the bulge inside the load bay, Jeremy opened it and inside locates an engine. Jeremy went on and teased them that the Maloo even lost to a van carrying an engine.
But what engine you may wonder that is powerful enough to propel a van quicker than a 6.0 liter super ute? Well, if you are a true car fanatic you may be able to guess which car the engine was from by looking at the rims of the van. Figured it out yet? The engine was a 3.5 liter twin-turbocharged engine from the Jaguar XJ 220!
This may seemed unfair, but remember that the vehicle is still a van, and the rule never said that a modified commercial vehicle is not allowed for the challenge. The Aussies have to agree and move on to the next challenge. If you are familiar with Top Gear, then you should be familiar with the next challenge.
This is the very same challenge when the Brits were battling against Top Gear from Germany. Two cars are connected on top of each other, but the car below only controls the acceleration and the brake while the car above only controls the steering. The Aussies thought that it was simple enough….not until they see their cars.
The cars on top of the Australian’s cars are connected upside down. Jeremy told them that this way it will be the right side up when they watch it back at their country. Jeremy said so because Australia is located directly behind Britain on the world globe and therefore ‘upside down’. Four people will be needed to race the two sets of cars, and there are only three people on each team. The Brits will then be joined by Jodie Kidd while the Australians will get Australian paparazzi, Darryn Lyons.
The outcome of the race was pretty obvious as the Australians have to steer the cars while in an up-side-down position. In the middle of the race however, the British were competing against each other and one of them spun the other around. Both British teams still finished first at the end of the race however. More challenges coming up, but first, The News!
Jeremy started by saying that they received many complaints that Top Gear did not give enough info on the BMW S1000 RR motorbike featured on last week’s episode. James May then addressed that by telling us that the motorbike has a cable-operated anti-hopping clutch, thats it. Jeremy then continued with the news by introducing the new MINI Countryman. Jeremy finds the huge size of the Countryman pointless as it still has only four seats like the MINI Cooper.
Richard Hammond on the other hand, introduced us the new Pagani Zonda replacement, the Huayra. Obviously Hammond loved it, but Jeremy thinks that it looked much more toned-down compare to the bold Zonda. Jeremy and May also had a hard time pronouncing the Huayra name. The new Ford Focus was introduced next and Jeremy had an interesting statistic about the Focus. The fact was 275 people a day, in Britain alone buys a Ford Focus.
May then asked Jeremy whether he ever wanted a Mexican sports car, Jeremy jokingly said yes. May introduced him a Mexican sports car called the tortilla. May later explained that he made up that name because he can’t remember the real name of it. Hammond questioned that why would we want a Mexican sports car, as a car reflects their national characteristic. A German car for example, are well-built, Italian cars are a bit flamboyant and quick, while a Mexican car would just be, as Hammond described as a “lazy, feckless, flatulent, oaf with a mustache leaning against a fence asleep looking at a cactus with a blanket with a hole in the middle on as a coat.”
May then agreed with Hammond and said that Mexicans are not good with their food as well and they are just like “sick with cheese on it”. Hammond corrected him by saying is “refried sick with cheese on it”. This all sound a bit offensive to the Mexicans, but Jeremy assured us that the Mexican embassy will not complain as he would also be sleeping while watching Top Gear.
That is the end of the news. The next featured car is the Ferrari 599 GTO, but before that Jeremy said that: ” In Britain, we find it rather revolting to talk about how much money somebody earns. A deejay (Chris Evans), spent 12 million pounds on a car, and you may find it ridiculous, but the car in question is a 1963 Ferrari 250 GTO.”
The 250 GTO is the greatest car Ferrari has ever built. Jeremy called it as the”Greatest road racer from the ultimate decade of road racing”. It is also extremely rare, only 36 were ever produced. The 250 GTO’s aluminium body panels were hand-beaten over pieces of wood, therefore none of the 36 units made are the exactly the same. This particular 250 GTO on the show for example, the driver’s door is a centimeter longer than the passenger door. The handmade 3.0 liter V12 engine were all different as well. The engine was supposed to produced 295 hp, but some came out less while some produced more. Even so, all 36 cars were able to reach a top speed of 175 mph, which was very fast at the time.
Jeremy always wanted to drive the 250 GTO more than anything else, even though Top Gear was made by one of the world’s most largest and richest broadcasting organizations, the BBC simply could not afford the insurance for the car. Jeremy however, is able to drive the Ferrari 288 GTO. The 288 GTO was also built as a road racer. But the racing series it was meant to enter has ended before it got the chance. With no racing pedigree and history to speak of, the Ferrari 288 GTO is a “bargain” at around 400,000 pounds. When the production of the 288 GTO ended in 1987, people thought they would never see the GTO moniker again. Well, let me introduce the Ferrari 599 GTO.
Reviving the GTO name on a road car? “Thats brave” Jeremy says. “Is like calling your infant son Jesus, you need to be fairly sure that he is going to grow up into something special. Not a burglar” So what does Jeremy thought about the car? Well, it is raining heavily and as usual, Jeremy turned off the traction controls while on the track. The result was an almost un-drivable car. Without any electronic aid, the 599 GTO has too much power to be controlled properly on a track, especially the corners. Jeremy end up spinning around on the track many, many times.
Ferrari had removed plenty of it’s weight by having a thinner glass, carbon fiber body, aluminium floor, no standard equipments like radio and even carpets. Jeremy told us that “The results, when you understand all that, and you respect it, and you leave the traction control ON, is rather different.” Jeremy was amazed by how fast the car accelerates. With a 0-60 mph time of just 3.3 seconds and a top speed of 208 mph, I can hardly blame him. Even so, Jeremy told us that the 599 GTO is not his type of car as it is too complicated with all those technologies to make it go faster around a track. Jeremy disagree for the GTO name to be applied to the 599 because it was not designed for racing at the first place. “It is just a limited edition, tweaked version of the car Gordon Ramsay drives”.
Now let’s see how fast the Ferrari 599 GTO goes around the Top Gear test track. The engine noise from The Stig’s lap was so very loud yet sensational. Jeremy describe the sound like “God sliding on a Lego brick”. The 599 GTO did it in a time of 1.19.8 which is slower than a Ferrari 458 Italia which had a time of 1.19.1, and yet cost half as much as the 599 GTO. I find the lap time of the 599 GTO a bit surprising as I thought all those weight-shaving and track-focused technologies would make it go very fast. Apparently not.
Moving on, is time for a ‘Star in a Reasonably Priced Car’ and the guest for the day was professional German tennis player, Boris Becker. Jeremy interviewed him and talked about his tennis career and so on. We also know that he is a Mercedes fan and owns a Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG and actually drove the car to the Top Gear studio that day. The track was still wet but his lap time was very quick, 1.45.9, the fifth on the list and the fastest wet lap. I reckoned that if the track was dry, he could be the fastest person on the Top Gear test track!
Now back to the British vs Australians ashes! Next challenge was synchronized drifting. Jeremy chose a Jaguar XKR while the British Stig chose an Aston Martin V12 Vantage. And due to Health and Safety rules, the judging must be done by the citizens of the UK (Hammond and May). Jeremy spun out once during their drift and they both Hammond and May gave 6 marks. Jeremy gave them old Vauxhall cars instead of the 6.0 liter Maloo and the Commodore. With such slow cars, Ewen and the Australian Stig simply could not perform a decent drift. And to make matters worse, Ewen crashed into Aussie Stig. Both judges gave 1.1 points but Hammond mistakenly gave eleven points which was unfortunately too late to be changed. Jeremy gave him a good scolding.
The Brits still have nothing to worry though as their total points is now 52 with the Aussies only 17.1. To cheer up the Australians, the British served them some barbecued food but was later interrupted by a complain from Top Gear Australia’s production office. They accused them for cheating in the double decker race because when one of the British team was spun out, the car stayed there for one whole lap and therefore cheating. The 52 points of the British is now reduced to 42 points and the Australians now increased to 27.1. Still leading though.
The next challenge is motorized sheep-herding. Sheep will be released from their fences and each team will use their country’s motorbike to herd them back in. Jeremy accidentally gave the Australians, Austrian bikes which are world’s best bike. Even with normal motorbikes, the Australians are meant to herd sheep as they completed the challenge very quickly and efficiently. The British however, are terrible at it and Jeremy do not even know hoe the bike works. The sheep eventually escaped to the woods which deducts 20 points and the Aussies get 10 points. The final score is now 22 for British and 37.1 for the Australians.
The Australians may be leading but the final challenge will determine the winner. The final challenge was a simple rally race across a world championship rally stage. The cars? Two Proton Satria Neo S2000 Rally cars with four wheel drive and 280hp. James will be driving this time as the other two had already participated in a challenge. Hammond hesitated as Captain Slow will be the driver. Jeremy then explained that it is the “James” (The Stig) they previously used versus the Germans. May then pretended to go change to his racing outfits to fool the Australians. Because the Australians is 15.1 points ahead of the British, they will have a 15.1 seconds head start.
With such a huge time gap between them, the winner seemed obvious. But remember that “James” is on the wheel and therefore caught up with their opponent pretty soon. The final leg of the race is not gravel anymore but tarmac. The Australian obediently followed the road while “James” took to the grass and overtook them. The British won once again….with some cheating. The camera later showed James May hiding behind a tree. The end!
Thanks for reading my Top gear review and please enjoy the screenshots I took from the show at the slideshow below! And like always, if you want to see particular screenshot in high-resolution, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I shall send it to you. Thanks again and have a great day!