Top Gear Series 2

Top Gear: Series 2, Episode 3

  • Jeremy reviews the Volkswagen Touareg.
  • Richard tests the Lexus SC430 and Hyundai S-Coupe.
  • James May presents Insider Dealing.
  • Richard finds out which country makes the fastest supercar.
  • James reviews the Perodula Kelisa – Britain’s cheapest new car.
  • Jeremy tests the Alpina Z8.
  • Star in a Reasonably Priced Car: David Soul.

Episode Guide

This episode marks the week in which the Porsche Cayenne went on sale in Britain. Rather than Jeremy reviewing it like everyone would have expected, he has decided to test the Volkswagen Touareg instead. The Touareg sets itself apart from soft-roaders such as the Porsche Cayenne simply because VW has designed it to be capable even when taken off the tarmac – it features locking differentials, skid plates and a low range gearbox. The Touareg comes with a variety of engines, a 3.2L V6, a 4.2L V8 or in the case of the test car, a turbocharged 5L V10 diesel. Whilst sitting on the trunk of a felled tree being pulled behind the Touareg Jeremy says, “So if you run a business specialising in the removal of enormous trees from inaccessible forests, plainly the V10 Touareg is ideal”. Despite the sheer pulling power of the V10 engine, it weighs around 300kg more than the 3.2L V6. It’ll struggle to do 19mpg and the weight of the engine over the nose ruins the handling. To add to these handling problems, Jeremy likens the suspension (in sport mode) to sitting on a gravel-sifting machine – and don’t think setting it back to “comfort” will fix it either, as it turns the car into a wallowing mess. Jeremy also aims criticism at the gearbox, exterior styling and very uncomfortable seats, plus the dash mounted phone holder which looks like an afterthought. Bearing these points in mind, the £50,000 price tag also comes across as being excessive. Back in the studio Jeremy reveals he later drove a petrol engined Touareg and that it was marginally better – but still maintains the Porsche Cayenne or BMW X5 would be a better buy.

Richard and James move on to the topic of “Bad Cars”. After some discussion, the boys all write down what they think is the absolute worst car on sale today. All 3 apparently chose the Lexus SC430 – a car which fails to pass any of the basic rules of sports car design – good exterior & interior styling, good handling and a good ride. Quite incredible really, considering Lexus had a massive budget available when developing the SC430. Richard then moves on to do a mini review on one. When launched the car came with run flat tyres which made for a hard ride – so much so that soon after, Lexus opted for regular tyres and softened the suspension.. but not enough. It ends up being a dreadful compromise – not hard and communicative enough to be sporty, and certainly not comfortable enough to be a relaxed cruiser. Richard compliments the 282bhp engine but it will never make up for the poorly designed folding roof and useless rear seat space. Richard suggests that almost any company could make a good sports car if they stick to the basic rules of sports car design – like Hyundai did with the S-Coupe. The interior may be outdated and low-rent, but the exterior styling is fantastic – Richard even suggests it looks remotely like a Ferrari. The chassis feels tight and sharp, egging the driver on to drive quicker. The 2.7L V6 only produces 165bhp but is fed through a 6-speed manual gearbox so the sound of a lovely exhaust note. For £18,500 Richard says it’s a bargain.

Moving on to the news, Jeremy mentions the Citroen Saxo has gone out of production – and has been replaced with the Citroen C2. Richard mentions the Porsche Carrera Cup Great Britain, and that Porsche are producing a road going version of the car used in the championship – the 911 GT3. Richard also introduces the Carrera GT. James shows us the Bristol Fighter – a 2-door gull wing car that can do 210mph. Jeremy brings up an image of a Jaguar that has been modified by its owner very horribly, and then begins to wonder just what is the worst modified car in Britain.

James presents Insider Dealing with some relevant deals on new cars, due to oversupply.

The Eurovision song contest took place the night before, and because of this Richard has decided to hold a battle of the nations all of their own – which country makes the fastest supercar? The contestants are; Germany – Porsche 911 Turbo; Japan – Honda NSX; USA – Chevrolet Corvette; France – Venturi; Italy – Ferrari 360; And representing the UK, Top Gear’s tatty stripped out Jaguar XJS. In a straight drag race, The Porsche 911 Turbo won it, the Ferrari 360 came second, followed by the Honda NSX. The Jag came dead last with a ¼ mile time of 18.5 seconds. Later in the episode, the Jag is brought back for a re-match. This time it is fitted with a 200bhp shot of nitrous oxide, making a total of 500bhp. The Jaguar wins the drag race, just holding off the Porsche 911 Turbo as they reach the finish line.

Jeremy introduces David Soul as the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car. David laps a dry track in 1.54.

James is out driving the new Perodua Kelisa, a cheap as chips car made in a jungle clearing in Malaysia. It’s yours from £5000. James suggests the simplicity of the car and the fact it makes no false promises, means it’s good simple fun. The Kelisa has decent equipment and James loves the way it drives – saying there’s a sense that there is not very much between you and the road. He continues, “I actually like this, it’s a bit of a laugh. It’s essence of driving. No garnish.” James also comments that it’s the nearest thing he has driven, to the original Mini.

Jeremy moves on to the BMW Z8 – a car which BMW managed to mess up, even though they had the best brains in the business, a wonderful looking body and the engine from an M5 – and yet it turned out to be awful. Jeremy likens the handling to a Scania bin lorry that he is driving out on the track. Jeremy thinks it’s because BMW didn’t know what they wanted the Z8 to be. “Sports car, muscle car, boulevard cruiser.. and it’s ended up as a sort of a browny-green mush of all three.” BMW have announced they are going to stop making it – but this hasn’t stopped Alpina from trying to make a better version of it. The Alpina Z8 has a blue suede interior and replaced the 5.0L engine with their own 4.8L unit, which has less power. The 6-speed manual was also removed and replaced with a 5-speed automatic, and the suspension has been softened. What Alpina has tried to do is focus the Z8, trying to turn it into a cruising machine. The ride and handling are as bad as ever though. Jeremy continues, “Getting it round a corner is like trying to get a wardrobe up a fire escape.. it’s very hard work.” Jeremy struggles to find the difference between the way the Alpina Z8 drives, compared to the original. Back in the studio, Jeremy shows a lap of the Stig taking the Z8 for a lap. On a dry track, it returned a lap time of 1.29.

Stig Power Laps

Alpina Z8

Star in a Reasonably Priced Car

David Soul


00:42 – 01:24 Death in Vegas – Dirt
01:50 – 02:31 Goldfrapp – Lovely Head
02:43 – 03:18 Goldfrapp – Lovely Head
03:24 – 04:01 Air – Dirty Trip
04:45 – 05:14
05:36 – 05:55 Air – Playground Love
38:44 – 39:55 Extreme Music – Leave it Out
40:06 – 40:45 Extreme Music – Leave it Out
42:00 – 00:00 Pilote – Turtle (Bonobo Mix)
43:12 – 43:30 ?
46:09 – 00:00 Peter Green – Albatross
52:27 – 53:15 ?
53:36 – 54:00 ?


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