Challenges How hard could it be? Top Gear Series 17

Top Gear: Series 17, Episode 4

  • Jeremy power tests the Jaguar XKR-S & Nissan GTR.
  • The boys try to solve the problems of Public Transport.
  • Star in a Reasonably Priced Car: Rowan Atkinson.

Episode Guide

Watch this episode on Amazon Instant Video

This episode begins with Jeremy looking at Jaguar – a car company which not all that long ago had a reputation for producing quiet, comfortable, good looking value for money cars. Now though, Jeremy looks at their most recent release, which seems to stand for none of these things – just speed – the Jaguar XKR-S. Out on the track, Jeremy gets the XKR-S up to 170mph+ on the main straight before running out of runway. The supercharged XKR-S is the most powerful car Jaguar has ever made, churning out 542bhp from the rear wheels. Jeremy describes it – “As a result it feels and sounds as though its being fueled by a mix of plutonium and wild animals”. The XKR-S has bigger sills than the regular XKR, along with a large rear spoiler and ventilation slots in the bonnet – making it look just as loud as it sounds. Jeremy finds some of these design decisions questionable – none of the things which make Jaguar cars good exists in this model – it even has a hard ride. It also costs £97,000, Jeremy continues “So Jag has sacrificed subtlety, good looks, comfort, silence and value – all it’s core values – in the pursuit of speed”. But if you’re only after speed, there’s another car you must consider. Enter the updated 2012 model Nissan GTR.

The new Nissan GTR comes with even more power, an updated gearbox and improved aerodynamics. Jeremy continues, “Every single piece, the brakes, all four wheels, the 3.8L twin-turbo engine, the steering, the new double-clutch gearbox – they’re all electronically linked to sing the song of speed in perfect harmony”. But is it faster than the crazy XKR-S? Well in a drag race on a damp track, the GTR leaves the XKR-S for dead, winning by a huge margin. Using launch control, the GTR can do 0-60mph in just 3 seconds. Jeremy marvels at it – “I don’t think I’ve ever been in a car that has launched itself quite like that”. The GTR also has it beat in the corners, managing 93.3mph through the “follow through” while the Jag could only do 84.8mph in the same conditions. Jeremy loves the improvements made to the GTR, demonstrating just how grippy the car is, by showing us how far his face gets pulled to the side while cornering. Jeremy sums up – “Despite everything, this car produces fewer carbon-dioxides than the Jag, it has seats in the back you can actually use, a bigger boot, and at £69,000 it’s nearly £30,000 cheaper. So the conclusion is easy – why buy a brogue that has been converted into a training shoe, when for much less you could have something that was designed to be a training shoe in the first place”. Back in the studio, we watch the Stig take the GTR for a lap of the track. It does it in an astonishing time of 1:17.80, while the Jag was taken around early and only managed a 1:23.30.

In the news, James praises the launch control in the GTR, but Jeremy says it is the stupidest thing ever in a road car. He suggests you’ll look stupid sitting at a red light, revving the nuts off the car while you wait for the light to go green. Jeremy shows us the new Range Rover Sport, and also a new version of the Fiat Punto Abarth. James, who is interested to keep his hair, asks Richard and Jeremy how their cheap V12 coupe’s from last week are going. Richard’s BMW is still running perfectly, however Jeremy’s Mercedes had an ignition coil blow – a part which would cost a total of £1,200 to replace. In comparison, the ignition coil for a Nissan Pixo is only £138. James keeps his hair.

In the next segment, the boys look at how they can fix the problems of trains – which are expensive to use because they are expensive to build. Jeremy’s idea is to take a 22 year old Jaguar XJS £4,500, and convert it into a locomotive. The Jag has a 5.3L V12 and Jeremy suggests that it will be perfect for the job. The Jag’s wheels were removed and replaced with train wheels instead, sized perfectly to the tracks. The boys take it out for a test drive – and it worked perfectly. The only unfortunate thing is they had to return to base in reverse. For carriages, the boys have gone for a selection of caravans converted for the job – even going as far as to have a First Class, Catering, Second Class and Scum Class carriages. However there was a problem. With the carriages connected to the Jag, it simply couldn’t puts it’s power down on to the tracks – with the steel wheels and rear wheel drive. Richard and James tell Jeremy that he has bought the wrong car, and then go off on together to find a better alternative.

Back in the studio, Jeremy introduces Rowan Atkinson as the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car. Rowan goes to the top of the board with an amazing 1:42.20.

Back to the trains, James and Richard show us their new locomotive – an Audi S8. It has more power than the Jaguar, and more importantly, four wheel drive to help overcome the slippery rails. It was decided that James would drive, and Richard would take care of the passengers – who turned out to be top officials and inspectors from the railway world. James sets off and discovers the S8 is in fact the perfect car to use as a locomotive. Shortly after, Jeremy leaves the station in his new sports train” – the “TGV12”, which was simply his XJS towing a single open top carriage which only had two passengers – one of them being the editor of Rail Express magazine. Jeremy puts his foot down and gets the Jag up to 55mph – compared to James’ speed of 25mph. Jeremy catches up to James, however as they were both on the same rail line, there was no way to overtake. Jeremy decides to put his train in reverse and go back to find a switch where he could change tracks. He eventually finds one, catches up again and overtakes James – but is forced to stop shortly after as an oncoming train blocks his path. Jeremy backs up finds a place to let the train past, and sets off in pursuit again. Eventually, Jeremy overtakes Richard & James again and finishes the race first. Richard starts a fire in their Buffet car and at the end of the film, an oncoming freight train crashes into the Scum Class carriage, destroying it completely.

Some say…

“Some say that he once hacked into his own helmet, and that he thinks Harper Seven is a convicted terrorist cell. All we know is he’s called the Stig.”

Stig Power Laps

Nissan GTR

Jaguar XKR-S

Star in a Reasonably Priced Car

Rowan Atkinson


Jaguar XKR-S vs Nissan GTR:
00:58 – 01:31 – Nine Inch Nails – The Collector
01:31 – 02:05 – Philip Glass – Resource
02:10 – 02:20 – ?
02:30 – 02:48 – 2 Many DJ’s – Peaches: Fuck the Pain Away
02:49 – 03:07 – Amon Tobin – Goto 10
03:26 – 03:49 – Daft Punk – Overture
04:07 – 04:22 – Death in Vegas – Hands Around My Throat
04:22 – 05:23 – Steve Jablonsky – You’re A Soldier Now
05:42 – 05:54 – U.N.K.L.E – Persons and Machinery (Instrumental)
06:09 – 06:45 – U.N.K.L.E – Mayday (Instrumental)
06:54 – 07:24 – Massive Attack – Atta Boy
07:34 – 08:44 – U.N.K.L.E – Persons and Machinery (Instrumental)
08:47 – 09:31 – Mogwai – Music For A Forgotten Future (The Singing Mountain)

‘The Stig’ Lap:
11:26 – 11:30 – Rachid Taha – Rock El Casbah
11:49 – 11:54 – Rachid Taha – Rock El Casbah

Top Gear Express, Pt. 1:
21:32 – 22:10 – Kasabian – Road Kill Cafe
22:10 – 22:34 – Mike Post & Pete Carpenter – Theme from ‘The A-Team’
22:34 – 22:57 – Richard Strauss – Also Sprach Zarathustra
23:27 – 23:35 – Harry Gregson Williams & David Buckley – Fenway
23:31 – 24:38 – Hans Zimmer – Red Warrior
25:00 – 25:03 – Black Dice – Glazin
25:21 – 25:37 – ?
26:33 – 26:47 – Hans Zimmer – Dinner is Served
28:51 – 29:02 – Roy Budd – Discovery

Top Gear Express, Pt. 2:
42:02 – 42:17 – Roy Budd – Kidnapped
42:34 – 42:42 – Roy Budd – 9M2
43:04 – 43:09 – David Holmes – Paper Underwear
43:09 – 43:16 – Groove Armada – Shameless
43:48 – 44:11 – Roy Budd – Kidnapped
44:22 – 44:53 – Ennio Morricone – The Untouchables
44:55 – 45:53 – Elbow – The Birds (Instrumental)
46:05 – 46:16 – Elbow – The Birds (Instrumental)
46:17 – 46:37 – Brian Tyler – Aerial
46:42 – 47:33 – Jerry Goldsmith – Taking Over the Train
47:45 – 48:00 – John Barry – Midnight Cowboy
48:15 – 48:24 – John Barry – Midnight Cowboy
49:10 – 49:29 – Elliot Goldenthal – Revenge Wheel
49:53 – 50:04 – Roy Budd – Discovery
50:04 – 50:17 – John Barry – Midnight Cowboy
50:36 – 50:47 – Roy Budd – No Co-Operation
51:07 – 51:24 – Roy Budd – No Co-Operation
51:39 – 51:59 – Roy Budd – No Co-Operation
52:11 – 52:31 – ?
52:33 – 53:55 – Danny Elfman – Main Titles from ‘Planet of the Apes’
54:05 – 54:31 – Secret Machines – Dreaming of Dreaming
55:01 – 55:18 – Roy Budd – Discovery
55:18 – 55:31 – The Asteroids Galaxy Tour – Satellite (Instrumental)
56:02 – 56:08 – Elliot Goldenthal – Apian Stomp
56:08 – 56:25 – Elliot Goldenthal – Titus’ Vow
57:17 – 57:34 – Brian Tyler – The Gulf of Aden
57:44 – 58:33 – Hans Zimmer & James Newton Howard – Macrotus


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