Top gear 13.4
I saw what I wanted to see, and I got the answer that I thought I would. This week’s episode of Top Gear saw an epic battle between the Ford Focus RS and the Renault Megane R.26.R. While the Ford has the edge as far as creature comforts go, the Renault has the edge in the driving dynamics department. I know that Jeremy had picked the Ford to win, but Richard was right in his assessment of the Megane. It is the GT3 of hot hatches, and it showed why. The Focus has to make due with trying to cope with 300 horsepower driving and steering the front wheels. The Renault only has to make due with 227, but it is still through the front wheels. However, the Ford has a trick new front differential that Clarkson described as feeling “weird” when he went around corners. He could literally feel the tug and pull on the steering wheel when he flung it into a corner. The Megane, on the other hand, is set up to be very stiff and it showed. There was hardly any body roll in that car and it really looked to be the more fun. The first test between the two cars was a drag race. Now, the Ford eventually won (and why shouldn’t it) but for most of the time, the Megane was in the lead. And if you listened to them afterward, it seems that Jeremy only caught up to Richard after 120 mph. Now, I don’t know about you, but that would be a win for the Megane in my book. If it takes the Ford up to 120 mph to actually catch and pass the thing, there is no where on public roads that you will ever find that happening – or shouldn’t anyway. This means that the Megane was faster to 60 and to 100, and those are more like the speeds that drivers push to every day.
Then came the race around the track. They did the split screen to make the race look closer than it was (with some careful editing) but it turns out that the Megane is more than a full second faster just around that track. Now, this doesn’t mean that the Focus is bad, in fact it’s probably very good, but it just isn’t the fastest all-out hatch if that’s what you’re after. Lightness and set-up come more into play than just throwing power at something. That has been proven time and again, but this just reinforces it. So if you want a fast, loud, green or orange hatchback with very cool looking seats and a nice stereo, you will want the Ford. If you aim is to track your ride and beat the competition all the time, the Megane is what you should be looking at.
The next part of the show featured a race. This race was sort of predetermined from the start, but I’ll recap anyway. The boys (Hammond and May) would be piloting the brand new Porsche Panamera and be going up against a letter that was being mailed with the Royal Mail. They both started at the very bottom of Britain and went all the way to the top of the Island trying to beat the letter. Their car was equipped with a big 4.4 V8 and had many options that were ridiculously priced and unnecessary. For instance, did you know that leather isn’t a standard item on a Porsche Panamera? I didn’t either, but apparently it is an option. Stupid. To my unsurprised, they didn’t beat the mail, and they both liked the way the thing drove. As they should; because it’s still a Porsche. But I have to say that I agree, and always have and always will, with Jeremy Clarkson who thinks the car looks godawful. I hate the design of the car and for the same price, would get the Maserati Quattroporte GTS. Whatever.
The guest was Usain Bolt, the world record holder for the 100 meter dash and three time gold medalist in the Olympic games. His lap was very good and he ended up about fifth or sixth fastest. Very impressive.
The last bit of the show was Clarkson playing a game called British Bulldogs (don’t ask me what it is, but if any Brits out there would like to tell me, go right ahead) but he used a 500 bhp Mitsubishi Evo and went up against some Army guys. Of course he was going to get it shot to bits, that’s what happens. Though he did bring up a good point that cars used by drug dealers should be sold in bits instead of instantly destroyed. Not only could the government be making lots of cash, but they would be selling the parts to people who actually want them. Oh well. The episode started off very good and then seemed to taper off toward the end. However, next weeks episode should be a doozy. Not only will it feature the new Z4 and the Jaguar XFR, but will have a cheap car challenge and the very hot Sienna Miller! I can’t wait.