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Top Gear Takes A Step Back With Episode 4

Warning:  The following post contains SPOILERS. Proceed at your own risk.

The latest installment of New Top Gear is in the books. We liked the 3rd episode very much. It was a back to basics episode that showed that the new show had potential. I was hoping the 4th episode would build on it. What we got was just boring. Sure, it wasn’t the dumpster fire that the 1st episode was and it even had its bright moments but overall the 4th episode left me wanting.

am vulcan

The new episode got off to a great start. Chris Harris in an Aston Martin Vulcan blasting around the Abu Dhabi F1 circut. Chris Harris who is unquestionably the best Chris on New Top gear and the most powerful Aston Martin ever produced. No fancy hybrids here. Just a brute of a V12 producing 800+ horsepower. In Harris’ capable hands it was fantastic. 

Though it does bring up 1 question. What is the point of these non-street legal hypercars? Ferrari, McLaren, Pagani and now Aston Martin all make one. Sure they are spectacular things to behold but who is going to buy them? What are they going to do with them? These cars far exceed the talent of 99.999999% of the people rich enough to buy them. So what they really are is manhood extensions for the very, very, very rich. What would be great is if there was a race series where these things could fight it out on the track. Use the delightfully simple and highly effective BoP formula utilized by GT3 cars to balance the cars out. Maybe call the class for these cars Group C, and let them race in some kind of endurance World Championship. I fear I may have gotten off topic. In any rate this is the high point of this episode. It all kind of goes down hill after this.

The very luxurious accommodations aboard the Orient Express
The very luxurious accommodations aboard the Orient Express
Next up we had the big film. There is a fancy, high-class train that will take you in luxury, style and grace to Venice. £3,360 will get you a one way ticket to Venice aboard the very luxurious Venice Simplon-Orient-Express. No idea why it’s called that. I suspect there may be a generational, geographical and economical reason for that but I digress.

Eddie Jordan whom I believe may not be firing on all cylinders if you catch my meaning, got to ride on the train. While the others (I think you know where I’m going with this) would choose any form of automotive transportation they want for the £3,360. I, like you, was expecting a race, after all it is the Top Gear way. Well it wasn’t as straight forward as that. Chris Evans chose an old Jaguar XJ, Sabine chose an Audi A8, and Matt chose a motorcycle. The motorcycle in question was the very obscure Gold Wing. I will admit, I did get a kick out of the Chips theme playing in the background while he introduced his ultimate Grand Touring motorcycle. That was the high water mark for this piece, all of it. After that there was a completely forced and not all that exciting challenge involving chef’s cooking meals in the back seat of the vehicles. Of course the meals were judged by some famous food critic who I had never heard of and that led to the “To Be Continued…” screen.

The guests this week were Brian Cox, some smart guy who has a show on the BBC. And Bear Grylls famous for starting the whole survival genre of TV shows. Brian was promoting a new show though they talked so little about it I have already forgotten it. Bear was promoting his new book, entitled Burning Angels. Which is actually a work of fiction based almost entirely on his life. The book is apparently pretty dark and only for adult audiences. Not that kind of adult, just it’s probably too dark for your child to read, or something. Anyway, both guests were surprisingly good in Rally-Cross Car but like much of this episode, it wasn’t exactly must watch TV.

model x and hellcat

This led to the other good portion of the show: Rory Reid in a Tesla Model X, the Electric SUV in Tesla’s ever-growing model range. I neither love or hate Tesla, I’m kind of meh on them. Sure they make some incredible machines and they’re advancing the electric car immensely. Plus they are the only car maker on the planet to offer Ludicrous mode. Which ought to make Dark Helmet happy. Me, I like engines I can hear and gears that I can change, manually. Call me old-fashioned etc, etc, etc. Thing is unlike the Focus RS Rory drove last week Tesla’s don’t get me excited. Even when it’s family SUV capable of smoking a Hellcat in a drag race, which Rory did. Poor marks there for showing absolutely no originality. 

We did get a free tease of what Mr. Reid will be driving next week, the Jaguar F-Type SVR. Now, That should be highly entertaining. 1, because the SVR is 10 different kinds of awesome and 2, Rory Reid is turning out to be a very good TV personality. More of him please and less of the Ginger guy who constantly feels the need to shout at me.

Finally, the conclusion of the big film which finally gave us the race we were all looking for. Eddie on the train, and the other 3 in their chosen modes of transport. And my God was it dull. It was I don’t know how many minutes of Sabine and Evans driving, then running around while Matt languished far behind. Mostly because someone had the great idea to put a tiny fuel tank on his Grand Touring motorcycle. Even the fact that Eddie Jordan is very good at playing the spoons couldn’t save it. Seriously, it happened. I’d go on about the spoons, but there is no real reason to. It was boring on TV, so I can only imagine how dull reading about it must be.

So there you have it. We got a glimpse last week of what New Top Gear could be and it could be good. This week we got one of those episodes that even the Old Top Gear had towards the end. Basically the producers having an enormous production budget but having a difficult time coming up with something new. So what we ended up with something very eh.

Written by Chad Kennedy

Chad burst from the womb wearing a racing suit and a helmet. Chad's passion for cars is in his very DNA. His father was a gear head and passed on the tradition through owning such classics as a '66 Mustang and a '59 Corvette all while taking him to various race tracks in the area. Chad likes to wrench on his rides whenever possible, forgoing the stealership. Chad is an avid motorsports fan with particular interest in endurance/sports car racing. When not online writing for Shifting Lanes, you can find him working at the local golf course teaching people how to swing or hooning a golf cart at impossible speeds.


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