Top Gear Series 1

Top Gear: Series 1, Episode 5

  • Jeremy looks at the latest Mercedes S-Class & Audi A8.
  • Jason Dawe gives details on the Peugeot 206 as a second hand buy.
  • Richard goes to Germany to test the Mercedes Maybach 62.
  • Insider Dealing with Jason Dawe.
  • Jeremy tests the Bentley Arnage T.
  • Richard unveils the Top Gear Bond car.
  • Star in a Reasonably Priced Car: Jonathan Ross.

Episode Guide

To kick the episode off, Jeremy looks at the history of the Mercedes S-Class – the benchmark when it comes to luxury and the latest technology. Its world innovations included the first use of double-glazing on a car, plus anti-lock brakes and airbags. The latest S-Class is in the studio and Jeremy sets off to discover what innovations we can find in this one. The car features a “credit card” type of key, where it simply has to be in your pocket to be able to get into the car and start it. Also of interest, there are 140 motors in the car – only one of which is the engine. Jeremy continues to go through features for a good few minutes, before using the voice activated phone to call Andy Wilman – the producer of Top Gear. Although it recognized the name, the system struggled to recognize numbers while trying to save a phone number – something Jeremy persisted with until the sun went down. Back in the studio, Jeremy talks to Richard and Jason – comparing the length of the S-Class’ handbooks to Simon Schama’s book “A history of Britain”. Schama managed to condense the entire history of Britain into 558 pages, where as Mercedes handbooks amount to some 720 pages of instruction. However, Jeremy did eventually get the car going and took it out on a motorway. Jeremy demonstrates the new radar guided cruise control. When set to a given speed, it will automatically reduce the speed to match any slower vehicle that gets in the way, plus dropping the car back to a safe distance of 150 feet. Once the vehicle is clear, it will return back to the set speed. Jeremy starts to wonder why he is even needed in the car – what with the satellite navigation telling him where to go, the cruise control making sure he doesn’t crash into anything, the lights would go on when it gets dark, and the wipers would automatically come on if it started raining. At £85,000, Jeremy thinks it’s worth every bit of it.

Introduce the Audi A8 into the equation – the direct rival of the Mercedes S-Class. The list price is cheaper though, yet maintains the same attention to detail, plus all of the toys the Mercedes has. However, the engine in the A8 has more power, plus the four wheel drive system means the car is more sure footed, making the Audi more of a drivers car than the Mercedes. “You feel more connected, more in charge, less of a passenger”. In the studio, Jeremy admits it isn’t better than the Mercedes though – the Audi is better to drive, but the Mercedes is more refined and more comfortable.

In the news, the new Nissan Almira and Nissan 350Z are mentioned. Richard talks about MPG figures – and the fact that manufacturer’s are optimistic with their figures.

Jason Dawe moves onto the Peugeot 206 – a car that is so popular, someone is looking to buy a second hand one on Auto Trader every 25 seconds. Although the car is 4 years old, it still looks great and hasn’t thrown up any common faults. Jason details faults to look for, and that you should look for one with under 50,000 miles.

The Star in a Reasonably Priced Car is Jonathan Ross. He lapped a 1:55 on a wet track, but was penalized 2 seconds for cutting ‘the hammerhead’ – resulting in a 1:57.

Richard shows us the new Mercedes Maybach 62 – at £281,380 its almost £200,000 more than the Mercedes S-Class Jeremy drove earlier in the show. Richard goes to Germany to take a ride in it. The soundproofing is so excessive, that even at 250kph the noise was minimal. Among other things, the Maybach features a photoelectric sunroof – which can be turned opaque at the touch of a button. Richard suggests the car looks a bit “sedate” for almost £300,000 worth of metal. Despite it’s size and weight, it can get to over 60mph in 5.4 seconds – thanks to a 5.5L V12 with 550bhp and 900Nm of torque. Back in the studio, Jeremy tests out the boot auto-close feature by sticking his head in the opening. The closing boot lid detects his head and springs back up.

Jason Dawe presents Insider Dealing with some tips on buying tyres, plus some great deals on new cars.

Jeremy ogles over the Bentley Arnage T in the studio – before taking it out on the Top Gear Test track. Jeremy suggests the twin-turbo 6.7L V8 under the bonnet is unrestrained and unapologetically unfriendly to the environment – an engine whose roots can be traced back to 1959. “The trees whither when they hear it coming. It’s a bit, Brunellian and unbelievably powerful”. The Arnage is not only fast in a straight line, but can also hold it’s own through the corners. Jeremy crowns it as his favourite of all the “Luxury Barges” we saw earlier in the show, however does admit it costs exactly twice as much as the Mercedes S-Class.. But that it’s twice the car for it. The Stig takes the Arnage for a lap on a wet track and manages a 1:40.

In the final segment, Richard reflects back on the Bond cars from the previous episode – before unveiling Top Gear’s effort at creating their own – using a Rover 800. It features a second hand brake button that releases a torrent of coloured balls from the rear of the car, a rear spoiler which rises up to reveal a tea tray which acts like a shield from enemy gunfire, machine gun barrels poking out of the front indicators, plus a front passenger seat which ejects straight through the roof of the car.

Stig Power Laps

Bentley Arnage T
1:40.00 (wet)

Star in a Reasonably Priced Car

Jonathan Ross
1:57.00 (wet)


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