Top Gear is most assuredly back! In the 14th series opener, the boys went on a journey to Romania to try and find the best road in the world, there was a test between a Mercedes S63 AMG and a BMW 760LI and the actor Eric Bana dropped in.
I think the surprise of the night came when I found out that Eric Bana is Australian! I had no idea that he wasn’t an American actor. Well, I suppose that just goes to show how good he is. Also, he is a giant fan of motorsport and races GT cars regularly. It even came out that he has not taken a movie project because he would rather go racing. His prowess on the track really came through when it came to his lap in the reasonably priced Suzuki Liana. Even though it was extremely wet and even though he missed a gear change, he still managed to put in the fastest wet lap of all time, which is damn impressive. All of his lines were spot on and you could tell from the video that he was going to be fast. All in all, a very good lap from a surprisingly Australian person.
The test round the track that took place involved James, for once, testing out some hot super sedans. The Mercedes S63 AMG and the BMW 760LI both feature huge engines, a 6.2 liter V8 in the Merc and a 6.0 liter, twin-turbo V12 in the BMW. Both make generous amounts of power and torque, but the BMW is faster in both a straight line and around a track. This surprised me because I would have thought that the BMW would have been the softer of the two, given that the AMG is usually thought to be a brutish sort of car, and the BMW 7 series generally isn’t thought to be all that sporty. But the Bimmer was better able to put the power to the ground without completely lighting up the back tires around every corner like the AMG. And though the BMW won the battle, it was still decided that both cars were wastes of time and money because they are overpriced and overpowered and don’t know what they really are. They are supposed to be luxury limos, but also try to be sports cars, and that just dilutes them from being truly one or the other. And I have to say, I agree with their verdict on this one. If I want a sports car, I’ll go buy a Porsche or something and if I want a big luxury saloon, I’ll get a Jag, but I don’t need them to be put together and then pay more than I would for both of them combined with the one car.
On to the main event now. In what can only be described as a hair-brained scheme to find a road they could have simply gone to right off the bat, the boys traveled through the country or Romania in search of the Transfagarasan Highway. This is the highest, and most dramatic paved road in the country and looks very similar to the Stelvio Pass that they visited a few series ago. Of course, it wasn’t just about the road though. The cars that they brought were supposed to be the best grand touring roadsters in the world, and so Clarkson brought an Aston Martin Volante, Hammond showed up in a Ferrari California and James brought a Lamborghini LP560-4 Spyder. They then bickered and did what they do best by driving around, getting lost and competing in challenges that don’t really settle anything at all. Of course, since they were in Romania, it was only natural that they should see a ton of Dacia Sanderos. For those who don’t know, James is obsessed with this car. He feels it is a cheap car with no frills that is actually pretty good. So, Clarkson bought him one. And, as happens with all their gifts, you just knew that it had to get ruined somehow. This time, a large semi-truck backed into it and completely destroyed it after James had parked it “conveniently.” I know it was set up, but it was still great to see, because I think that James actually did like that car. After that, the boys followed May and, of course, got lost out in the Romanian countryside where James had a fender bender with his Lambo. But, after all of that nonsense and tomfoolery, they finally reached the road, and it turned out to be an epic thing. Clarkson even commented that the road was a combination of all the best corners of all the best race tracks in the world, and there is no greater compliment than that.
Overall, the episode was a good one for the start of the series and it can, hopefully, only go up from here. I wish I knew what was coming up on the show next Sunday, but they did not tell the audience. I’m assuming that it will be a big surprise. I will say that the one car I am hoping to see on this series is the new Noble M600. I want to see what it can do around the track, because it is supposed to be devastatingly fast.