Top Gear Series 1

Top Gear: Series 1, Episode 4

  • Jeremy and Damon Hill test the Aston Martin Vanquish & Ferrari 575.
  • Jeremy talks to WRC Champion Richard Burns.
  • Jason Dawe recommends which Nissan Skyline to get as a second hand buy.
  • Richard compares a bunch of 2.0L mid-sized cars.
  • Richard and Jeremy introduce the Aston Martin & Jaguar used in the latest James Bond movie.
  • Star in a Reasonably Priced Car: Steve Coogan.

Episode Guide

The show opens with Jeremy taking an Aston Martin Vanquish to the Isle of Wight (a small island two miles off the south coast of the English mainland). Jeremy drives through Cowes – a town he describes as “old school Britain. Shops selling heavy jumpers, Pubs selling heavy food.” A place where the Vanquish seems very much out of place with it’s redesigned chassis and carbon fibre bodywork. Jeremy maintains though that despite these improvements, the Vanquish still weighs more than the old DB7. The 6.0L V12 with 460bhp shouldn’t have any trouble moving all the weight – so Jeremy takes it out of town and opens the taps a bit. He becomes consumed by the noise it makes, and describes it as like “Tom Jones, bending over to pick up the soap while he’s in the showers in Wandsworth nick”. Along with the noise, Jeremy loves the styling, the interior, and the British-ness of the car as he starts to get all patriotic about the whole thing. The only gripe he has with the car is the new flappy paddle gearshift system the car is using, forcing the driver to keep both hands on the wheel to change gears. It comes across as rather cumbersome; the reverse gear takes a few seconds to engage and makes hill starts a little more difficult. “There are other problems, too. It judders in town and the clutch gives up completely if you try to do a full bore standing start”. The gearbox appears to be the Achilles heel of the Vanquish – which has to then hold it’s own against the new Ferrari 575 – a car which costs around the same and with matching performance figures. Damon Hill meets up with Jeremy to compare the cars. Damon is completely sold on the 575, describing it as “Beautiful, it’s just a lovely machine. Everything you’d expect from a Ferrari.” Jeremy and Damon switch cars and set off again. The 575 being used for this roadtest also has a flappy paddle gearbox, but Jeremy mentions it’s an £8000 optional extra – suggesting you save the money and stick with a proper manual gearbox. They both meet up to make a decision – and unanimously agree the Ferrari is the better car. The Stig takes both cars around the Top Gear Test track in the rain – Aston Martin managed a 1:36, and the Ferrari 575 a 1:35.

Continuing with the F1 theme, Jeremy mentions about the fact that F1 teams tell us the technology created in F1 eventually filters down into regular road cars that we all buy. The only technology he can think of that it has given us are the flappy paddle gearboxes he despises so much. He suggests that Rally cars have actually given us much more – turbocharging & four-wheel drive for example. Jeremy introduces World Rally Champion Richard Burns. They discuss the problems with F1 and the growing popularity of the WRC. Jeremy then shuts him outside the studio in the cold, giving him an example of how it feels for Rally spectators to sit out in the woods waiting for the rally cars to come by.

Jason Dawe moves on to the Nissan Skyline range – cars he describes as “basically a huge Playstation with an exhaust pipe on the back”. When looking for a Skyline as a second hand buy, there’s a bit to look out for. Jason outlines the history of the Skyline – starting with the R32’s racing successes. Jason introduces the R32, R33 & R34 – before taking an R34 GTR for a drive. He praises the technology involved in the car and the fact it makes the car almost idiot proof. “The car kind of looks after you”. Back in the studio, Jason suggests the R33 as the best buy – the older R32 being a bit long in the tooth and the R34 being still a bit expensive.

Richard Hammond brings on the next segment and introduces an Aston Martin Vanquish as used in the latest James Bond movie. He outlines the various guns and missile launchers hidden behind the front grill. Jeremy goes over the baddies car – a Jaguar XKR, which also has front mounted missiles, snow tracks on the tyres and side mounted heat seeker missiles. Both cars run Mustang V8’s and were converted to four wheel drive for filming.

Jeremy introduces Steve Coogan as the Star in a Reasonably priced car. He manages to lap a 1:53.00 on a wet track.

Richard decides to compare some mid sized cars – all of the manufacturers currently in F1 make a mid sized 2.0L car, with the exception of Ferrari. The field consists of a Renault Laguna, Ford Mondeo, Toyota Avensis, Jaguar X-Type, Mercedes C200, BMW 318i & the Honda Accord. The Honda Accord is rated as the best all round car, however the Stig still has to take them around the track. The Ford Mondeo ends up being the quickest, followed by the Mercedes and the BMW. For the full list of times, see the “Power Laps” listed below.

Stig Power Laps

Aston Martin Vanquish
1:36.00 (wet)
Ferrari 575 (with Fiorano Handling Pack)
1:35.00 (wet)
Ford Mondeo
Mercedes C200
BMW 318i
Honda Accord
Renault Laguna
Toyota Avensis
Jaguar X-Type

Star in a Reasonably Priced Car

Steve Coogan
1:53.00 (wet)


00:50 – 01:15 – Peter Sarstedt – Where Do You Go To, My Lovely
01:58 – 02:36 – Depeche Mode – Useless (K & D Sessions Mix)
02:45 – 03:21 – Mercury Rev – The Dark is Rising
04:05 – 04:27 – Gustav Holst – Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity (I Vow to Thee, My Country)
05:46 – 06:06 – Doves – Sea Song
06:07 – 06:48 – Fluke – Absurd (Whitewash Edit)
07:31 – 08:41 – Propellerheads – Spybreak!
08:52 – 09:07 – Propellerheads – Spybreak!
10:11 – 10:18 – Peter Sarstedt – Where Do You Go To, My Lovely


Related posts

Top Gear Series 1: Episode 10

Sean McKellar

Top Gear: Series 1, Episode 9

Sean McKellar

Top Gear: Series 1, Episode 8

Sean McKellar

Top Gear: Series 1, Episode 7

Sean McKellar

Top Gear: Series 1, Episode 6

Sean McKellar

Top Gear: Series 1, Episode 5

Sean McKellar

Leave a Comment