A new, more sensible and grown up Top Gear premiered a few weeks ago. Because I don’t have the Internet at my place yet, I cannot get the episodes as they come steaming off the airwaves like a fresh pile of…. well, not crap, because they are better than that, but something that steams and forms piles… you can figure it out for yourself. Anywho, the first episode of the new series featured a Bentley, a new reasonably priced car and a car that loves to just roll over. The Bentley Continental Supersports is the latest of the Conti breed. It features a gigantic W12 engine making a fairly hairy-chested 621 horsepower and 590 ft lbs of torque. This may not seem like a whole lot to power a car that weighs as much as a bus or three, but, in fact, it does go from 0-60 in only 3.7 seconds! And, it will go on to a top speed of 200 and some miles per hour. It also features carbon ceramic brakes and an improved all wheel drive system that features a 40:60 power split. What this means is that this is one Bentley that doesn’t handle like a boat. It actually steers around corners as well as it wafts down the country lane. This is no simple feat, and I really like the car, but it costs waay too much and there are better cars out there that can do the same thing, and look better doing it (read Aston Martin). Then The Stig took it out for a lap and it actually performed fairly well for how big it is. It was about as fast as an original Koenigsegg, which is probably down to the ridiculous speed and ability that The Stig has more than the actual vehicle.
The next segment saw the boys welcome some new guests to try out their new reasonably priced car. If you didn’t know, the old Chevy Lacetti was killed off (by crushing it under a huge tower that was being toppled) and so they went out and chose a new reasonably priced car. I have to say that the choice of getting a Kia Cee’d is an inspired one. I actually don’t mind how it looks, and it is a departure from the normal 4 door car they have had in the past, because its a 5 door. So not only is it reasonably priced, but it will also haul all of your stuff and look ok doing it. Of course Clarkson hung out with the hot chick who showed up, while Hammond was forced to fend off a flamer who was probably about to set the ground he walked over on fire.
Then, James undertook a task wherein he drove to an active volcano in Iceland. This was before one of those same volcanoes shut down all of European air travel, but it was still something very cool. Using a modified Toyota from their trip to the North Pole, James took up the task of driving up to a live volcano and trying to scoop up some of the lava before being killed to death somehow. The task of actually getting to the mouth of the volcano looked like an adventure in itself and was probably more dangerous than actually being there. Of course, that’s before Jame’s tires started on fire… In the end, he got his new piece of earth before being incinerated.
Then, this new series of helpful and more stoic and classy Top Gear got down to business and let the viewers in on some useful car information. For instance, that the Reliant Robin is probably one of the most terrifying and dangerous cars on the road. This is because it was built with a few flaws. The first one was that it was built with three wheels. It was constructed this way because it could be classified as a motorcycle, and the original buyers didn’t have to get a full car license to drive it. This wouldn’t be such a problem if the wheel was in the back, but the genius designers decided that the wheel should be in the front of the car. This produced the horrific consequence of the car tipping over on its side whenever you took a turn at speed. And at speed means anything above about 15 miles per hour or so. In essence, it would be faster to bike somewhere than have to constantly think about where to crash your car next. The other flaw as that the engine was in the back, as were you, as was the rest of the weight. When you floored the throttle on the 850cc engine, the car could, and usually would, do a huge wheelie that couldn’t be controlled. You could be staring up at the wild blue yonder one minute, only to come crashing down, try to turn the car and flip it over the next. Thank goodness Clarkson had on his crash helmet and four-point racing harness, otherwise he could have been hurt. More Top Gear will come along in the following weeks, and I can only assume that they will be very quick weeks, as the series usually only last for seven episodes. But I will cover them all as I get them.