Top Gear season 17 episode 4 review!

So this episodes starts off with Jaguar, always known for their “quietness, comfort, restrained good looks and value.” Now however, Jaguar had made a car which focused only on one thing, SPEED. Behold the new Jaguar XKR-S! Jeremy can be now seen driving the Jaguar at full throttle along the runway. Soon enough he was able to reach a very rapid 170 mph but he also ran out of road to go any faster. With a longer runway, the Jaguar can drive upwards of 186 mph.

The Jaguar XKR-S is the most fastest car Jaguar has ever produced. It’s supercharged V8 from the XKR is tuned to give it more punch. 542hp to be exact, to earn that extra “S” at the end of it’s name. All these tuning also made the Jaguar sounds even more extreme. Jeremy described the sound “as though it’s fueled by a blend of plutonium and wild animals.”

To identify it as the XKR-S and not the normal XKR, the S get a more serious bodykit all over, larger rims, and a huge rear spoiler as well. As for that front new bumper, Jeremy said it looks “rather disapproving, like a 1950’s seaside landlady.” And instead of the usual wood common on old Jaguars, this one is now full of carbon fiber and sporty bits.

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Well is now for the XKR-S’ downsides, the ride is very harsh and stiff. And of course, we have to inevitably come to the price, which is £97,000. That is almost £100,000, for a Jaguar! “So, Jag has sacrificed subtlety, good looks, comfort, silence and value…all it’s core value, in pursuit of speed.” But if all you want is speed, would you be better off in a……

Nissan GT-R? Well it’s time for Jeremy to find out. This is the updated 2012 model, with more power, more aerodynamic as well as much more grippy. With a 3.8 liter twin-turbo petrol engine, it produces even more horsepower than the Jag, 550hp to be specific. But that’s only 8 insignificant hp more. It should not make any much difference but let’s see how they do on a drag race.

So both the Jag and the GT-R is lined up at the starting line. And in the count of 3, the Nissan launch it’s way forward like a rocket, creating an estimated 10 meter gap the first few seconds. With a 0-60mph time of just under 3 seconds, the Jag had totally no chance of catching up after that.

“It’s funny, the Jag is surprisingly fast because it’s a Jag. This(Nissan) is surprisingly fast because it’s Surprisingly Fast!” When the Nissan crossed the finish line, it took a whole 3 seconds before the Jag followed suit. “That was not a win, that was a demolition.” 

And you are wrong to think that the GT-R is only fast on a straight but will lose to the track-focused Jag on the corners. Jeremy had set up a test and had installed a speed camera at one of the corners of the track, to see which car goes into a corner with a higher speed.

Remember the track is still soaking wet. First up the Jag, after passing that corner as fast as it could, it managed a speed of 84.8 mph which is pretty good. But then the GT-R came and did the same corner under the same conditions, with the same driver at an impressive 93.3 mph. This also explains why the Nurburgring, where there is a whooping 147 corners, the Jag did it in 9 minutes but the Nissan only takes 7 minutes and 24 seconds.

Despite everything, the GT-R is also more cleaner than the XKR-S, a usable rear seats, a bigger boot space, and much much more cheaper. At £69,000 it is a significant £30,000 cheaper than the XKR-S. In conclusion, “Why buy a brogue(shoe) that has been converted into a training shoe, when for much less you can have something that was designed to be a training shoe in the first place?”

So it’s now time to see how fast these two sports cars goes around the Top Gear Test Track. And in the hands of The Stig, the Jaguar XKR-S did it in 1.23.3 minutes. The new Nissan GT-R however, did it in a extremely surprising 1.17.8 minutes which is faster than the Bugatti Veyron and is at the top 10 on the list. And for comparison, the pre-updated GT-R only managed 1.19.7 minutes. So Nissan did some pretty significant changes for this updated one to be so much better. Well done there Nissan!

Now it’s time for The News! Well this time there is not much news. They first talked about the clever launch control which makes the Nissan GT-R go off the line so rapidly. Then Jeremy said that he was driving a S-Class fitted with night vision camera and tried driving in the dark just with the night vision camera. However when he turn off the headlights and looked at the screen, the car informed Jeremy that night vision is not available when lights are off. “What’s the point of that?!”

After some other not very interesting news, James May decided to remind us of the previous episode where both Jeremy and Hammond bought a used car for the price of a new Nissan Pixo. At the end of the previous episode, James actually bet all of his hair that in one week time, either one of their used cars will start creating problems. Hammond then told James that his car is perfectly fine and working as it should be. So far so good but Jeremy obviously had a different story to tell James about his used Mercedes.

Jeremy’s Mercedes’ ignition coil had malfunctioned and required replacing which had cost him £800 for the ignition coil itself while the ignition coil for the Nissan Pixo only cost £138. But £800 does not include fitting and tax, the total cost Jeremy had to pay for the ignition coil is a whooping £1200. “Thank You. I keep my hair!” James said so with a grin.

Now for the next film. In the UK 71% of people still commute by car. And more people go to work by walking or by bicycle than they do, by train. The reason for this is simple, as James shall explain: “Train tickets are enormously expensive. And they’re enormously expensive because trains are enormously expensive to build.” 

And why must trains be so expensive? “Surely there is a solution to this problem.” as Jeremy continues while ending it with his famous line: “I mean, how hard can it be?” Well let’s find out shall we? And we starts off with this 22 year old Jaguar(again!) XJS. Costing only £4,500 to buy and powered by a 5.3 liter V12 engine producing 300hp, Jeremy also thinks that the car goes like a train. Which got him thinking, can it actually be a……train?

To find out, Jeremy took the car to Top Gear’s Secret Railway Development Center in Leicestershire where the three boys will attempt to convert the Jag into a train. After a montage of footage showing them three working “hard” on the car while the theme song of The A-Team plays in the background, the Car/train is complete!

The three boys may seemed to have done a lot of work thanks to that deceiving montage, but Jeremy explained that all they did was just changing the tires into metal train wheels. What now? Have a test ride of course! And the boys did just that. As the train began moving along the railroad, the feeling of being inside a car without having to steer it was creepily satisfying to them. After a short but interesting run in their new Jaguar train, they decided to head back and start connecting carriages to it and become a true functional train. Of course the only way to head back is to, well….reverse!

A railway carriage usually cost upwards of £1 million but their carriages will be much much cheaper than that as they are using caravans as their carriages. A total of four different caravans were used to make up the whole train. They also introduced a class system for each carriage. Starting with the First Class at the front. Inside you will find four throne-like armchairs with loads of legroom. James described the interior as: “creating an atmosphere that I hoped would resurrect the golden age of train travel for the discerning first class passengers.” Very well.

Next up is of course the Second Class. “Smart, clean, functional. Everything the modern rail traveler wants and demands.” With chairs taken from a bus and an extremely bright cabin, the interior of Hammond’s Second Class resembles the Economy Class of an aeroplane. As for third caravan located right behind the Second Class would be the Buffet Car, where all the food and drinks will be prepared. Hammond is in charge of all F&B.

Last and very least is of course the Economy Class, but Jeremy decided to name it Scum Class instead. The main reason for that is people would be embarrassed to buy the Scum Class tickets and go for the Second Class instead. And you would not want to be in the Scum Class carriage anyway. Clearly designed by Jeremy, the caravan is not only the smallest here, but he also used straw instead of carpets for the floor in order to “absorb the diseases and the blood, should there be a riot.” , as well as wooden bench as seats. As least the Scum Class is the only carriage to feature a toilet……located outside the carriage!

So now they are finally able to attach these carriages with the Jaguar and begin their first true train test. Unsurprisingly, the Jaguar was unable to haul so much weight and did not move an inch when accelerated, all it did was spin the rear wheels and creating sparks. Hammond’s effort to push it was useless as well. The blame was then pointed all on Jeremy for choosing a convertible, rear-wheel drive sports car as a locomotive. James suggested using a four-wheel drive car to spread all those power evenly on each four wheels to pull those carriages. Jeremy however blamed the excess weight of the caravans, and foolishly decides to make a “Sports Train” with only asingle carriage.

Obviously both James and Hammond decided against that ridiculous idea of Jeremy but Jeremy insisted of using the Jaguar no matter what. There is no choice but to part ways. Jeremy will go on fulfilling his goal of creating a  sports train while James and Hammond shall find a more suitable car to pull their carriages. To be continued. And now is of course time for A Star In A Reasonably Priced Car! The guest for this episode is none other than Mr Bean aka Rowan Atkinson!

Once this talented actor got seated, Jeremy and him began talking about Mr Bean’s Rowan’s love for cars. Rowan owns a Honda NSX and the reason he likes this unique Honda sportscar is because he likes it’s modesty and understatedness. “I like the fact that it was a very good car. And yet it didn’t shout itself. It was sort of image free. I think that’s what I liked about it.”

And how can we possibly forget about his precious Mc Laren F1 which he had owned for over 14 years. Jeremy said that he never really liked that supercar, but then again it is Jeremy Clarkson we are talking about. Rowan had own that super rare and valuable supercar for over 14 years and had done around 37,000 miles on it, which is plenty for an exotic car like this.

As you should already know, Rowan played as Johnny English is a 2002 film with the same name. In that movie, his car was a Aston Martin DB7 Vantage which was still a new model then. If you are reading this right now, the sequel to that movie, Johnny English Reborn is no longer showing in cinemas. However, it was not released yet during the time of this interview.

If you had watched that hilarious movie or at least the trailer of Johnny English Reborn, you know that the car he used was a Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe. But it was not just any other Phantom, under the hood was something no ordinary Phantom has, as Rowan explains:

“When BMW bought the rights to the Rolls-Royce name in the late 20th century, they had the opportunity to create the ultimate luxury car for the 21st century. And therefore it should be given the ultimate engine as well, a huge 9 liter V16 petrol engine. “And unbelievably, they made three or four of these engines and they tested them.” Obviously it was extremely powerful with equally huge torque figures.

However at the final moment, they thought it was a bit too much and kept it somewhere without using it in the production Phantom. Rowan knew these engines exist and therefore contacted Rolls-Royce whether they are willing to fit one of their forgotten V16 engines into the Johnny English Reborn’s Phantom. Rolls-Royce gratefully agreed to do so. Unsurprisingly, that humongous V16 fitted perfectly into the Phantom because it was designed for it at the first place.

Of course when someone is interviewing the actor who plays Mr. Bean, at some point you will have to talk about humorous things. Rowan finds that the name “Bob” is a funny word to pronounce and pronounced he did and got the audience laughing at his way of speaking. Jeremy then handed him a paper with several motoring related words on it and asked Rowan to make them sound funny. “Airbag” and “petrol pump” just to name a few. Rowan really made them sound hilarious which you must listen to believe.

Of course how can we forget the funny faces he makes? Jeremy gave him a few examples of situations and wanted Rowan to give a facial expression based on that. The first was when he was presented with the McLaren F1. And the second was when the Queen comes out of a Range Rover. His funny faces are arranged  respectively above.

Finally we come to his lap time around the Top Gear Test Track. The footage showed Rowan driving pretty averagely around the track. But his lap time was a real shocker. How does being the first sounds like? Yup, Rowan Atkinson posted a time of 1.42.2 which makes  him the fastest celebrity around the Top Gear Test Track! Not bad for someone who plays Mr Bean!

Now back to the film! With Jeremy out of the equation, James and Hammond found their new locomotive in the form of a second hand Audi S8. With even more power than Jeremy’s Jaguar and four-wheel drive, the S8 would be a much more suitable car to pull their carriages. And now it’s time to welcome the guest who would be having a ride in their train. The guest consist of “top officials and inspectors from the railway world.” No pressure then.

Four of them are in First Class, three in Second Class, and one unknown old man dressed like a farmer will be in Scum Class. James will be driving while Hammond will take care of all the guests. The Audi had no problems pulling all the carriages and are now slowly heading towards Loughborough.

While in the middle of the journey, and a few failed attempts by Hammond to serve the guest with refreshments, Jeremy is finally leaving the station in his new sports train. Called the TGV 12, the Jaguar pulls a red painted carriage with it’s upper half chopped off. Inside is four sports bucket seats as well as a huge rear spoiler. As for the two passengers in Jeremy’s sports train, one of them is just an ordinary man, while the one in red clothing is the editor of Rail Express magazine and he will be reviewing this whole experience.

While Jeremy is averaging speeds of up to 45 miles per hour, James is only doing around 25mph. Even at such low speeds, the sheer vibrations and noise level in the cabins are giving them a bad mark. The buffet car has food and plates all over the floor, and the guest in First Class has to shout in each other’s ears to properly communicate. Hammond then decided to ask James to slow down a bit in order to serve the guest drinks. With no proper equipment to speak with the driver who is separated from the carriages, The only way is the traditional way……shouting.

Driving at a much faster speed, Jeremy’s sports train soon had James’ train in sight. However, due to the fact that both are using the same railway, Jeremy has no way of overtaking James. Not only does Jeremy had to slow down, but he sand his passengers had to face the Scum Class passenger who is currently taking a dump. Right in front of Jeremy’s train. Jeremy have no choice but to reverse back and find a point at the railway where he could change tracks.

After finding one and changing to a different track, Jeremy sped at over 70 mph and soon overtook James’s train. But that victory did not last long, there is a train stopped right in front of Jeremy and he have to stop right behind it. With no progress whatsoever, James once again took the lead. Jeremy had once again reversed and change into another track.

In the meantime, Hammond decided to fry some french fries for the First Class guest. While leaving the fire on, Hammond then went ahead to serve the guest in Second Class with some drinks and snacks. Most of them had fell on the floor in the Buffet Car and therefore had barely anything to serve them. Unsurprisingly, Hammond’s reckless move had set the Buffet Car on fire. When Jeremy passed by James again, he told James about the fire but obviously James did not believe him. Jeremy ignored it and went ahead towards his destination.

When Jeremy had long arrived at the station, James is now seen completed putting out the fire of the Buffet Car while their train stopped in the middle of the railway. The Buffet car is now burnt to a crisp and all the passengers had left their train for good. Because soon enough, a real train coming from the opposite direction came smashing through the Scum Class carriage as it was blocking the way of that train. James and Hammond had foolishly stopped their train at an intersection of the railway track. The End!

While back at the studio, Jeremy made a statement that James and Hammond’s train was rubbish and his was the best. Hammond then read out the editor of Rail Express magazine’s review of his whole experience on Jeremy’s so called sports train. And it reads: “There was nothing to eat. The ride was awful. The noise was distressing.”

The editor had also spent most of the time going backwards and he genuinely feared for his life, and ended up covered in excrement. “So it’s exactly like a normal train. Only much cheaper!” Jeremy sarcastically said. So that is the end of this episode’s review. See you next time for the upcoming Christmas Special episode of Top Gear where the three boys went to India! That should be an interesting one, thank you very much for reading my lengthy reviews and have a Happy Christmas!