Top Gear (2002–…): Season 6, Episode 5 - Episode #6.5 - full transcript

James road tests Nissan's new 4WD, the Murano. Jeremy goes back to the 1960's in an attempt to define "cool" when he reviews the Aston Martin DB5 and the Jaguar E-Type, and The Stig takes them both on a lap of the test track. Richard goes to the Autodromo Riccardo Paletti in Italy to drive the new Maserati Gran Sport coupé. Damon Hill starts a new board for Formula One drivers when he takes the Suzuki Liana on a lap of the test track.

JEREMY CLARKSON: Tonight, a Formula One world champion

-- is the star  -- in our reasonably priced car.

-- The Jaguar E-type  -- and the Aston Martin DB5.

-(GUNSHOTS FIRING) -And the British Army shoots me in the face.


Hello and welcome.

Now, we're starting tonight with a trendy new lifestyle vehicle.

So, obviously, the job  of testing it had to be given

to our trendiest,  most lifestyle-y presenter.

Er... That'd be James May.

--MAY: This is a new Nissan,  -- and it's called the Murano.

It's a 4x4.

-- And if you're wondering  -- why it's so bold and glitzy,

-- well, it's because  -- it's from America.

Now, we could have explored   its off-road limits   in the hills of Scotland.

-- But we thought the best place  -- to test it is actually here,

-- on tarmac, -- in the wilds of Hertfordshire.

You see, Hertfordshire  is celebrity country.

--Sort of   Heat--magazine territory.

An amazing   95% of the world's   electric gate production

ends up in Hertfordshire.

The Beckhams have got  a place round here.

So has Jade Goody,  Kym Marsh,

half the EastEnders--mob  and one of those  blokes from Blue.

And we reckon   the Murano would fit in   rather well.

Let's start with the looks.

-- That grille  -- may be a tad bling,

and the paint job   may glow like the skin   of a Palm Springs golfer,

but that's okay,

because the locals like   plenty of garnish   on their possessions.

Look at those pillars.

Genuine ancient Greek.

There's something else   that's important to   the residents around here,

a sense of exclusivity.

And as Nissan say  they are only going to import  1,000 of these,

that means the paparazzi will  never get you mixed up

with, I don't know,  the plumber.

-- Now, the Murano -- may call itself a 4x4,

-- but it's not exactly game on  -- for African expeditions.

There's none of that  Land Rover levers  and buttons nonsense.

-- In fact, most of the time, -- it's two-wheel drive,

-- with power only going  -- to all four

-- when the front wheels  -- start to lose grip.

But actually  that doesn't matter,  because around here,

all the country side features  have been nicely organized  for you.

So without doubt, there's plenty of style going on here.

But underneath it all, has the Murano got any substance?

Well, actually, it has.

This, for example, is a big,  nicely proportioned,  and very flat load bay.

There's really  pretty good rear leg room,

and because it was designed in America,

the seats are big enough  for your burger-munching,  super-sized Californians.

-- And that's  -- only the start of it,

-- because this car is also  -- pretty good value for money.

-- For £30,000, -- you get a 3.5 litre V6

-- that does nought to 60 -- in under nine seconds,

-- with a really clever  -- automatic gearbox.

-- Then, behind that -- privacy glass,

you'll find a sun roof,   a top notch stereo   with CD stacker,

climate control,   leather upholstery   and a sat-nav system.

And it's not just  any old sat-nav.

That's birdview sat-nav, which I have to say is absolutely fabulous.

Makes you feel  like a fighter pilot.

-- And that screen  -- has another use.

Which is the reversing camera.

There you go.

Which means  on a mini roundabout,

you won't drive into  the small person's hatchback  that's behind you.

And when you're at home,  it means you won't reverse

into the neoclassical pillars  holding your house up.

-- And the other good thing is  -- that all this kit,

the leather,   the aircon, the sat-nav,   it all comes as standard.

-- There is just one trim level,  -- and one price.

-- Now the Murano may be loud  -- and brash on the outside,

but inside, you'll find   it's a sheep   in wolf's clothing.

This is actually  a really nice car  to drive around in.

It's got a good engine, it's got a very nice, smooth gearbox,

the ride is surprisingly good  for this sort of car.

And it's fabulously quiet.

It's actually... Well,  everything I approve  of in a car, really.

-- What we have here, then,  -- is a surprise.

At first glance,   the Murano looks about   as deep and sincere

-- as an American  -- air hostess' smile.

But strip away the make-up,   and underneath there's   a good car for all people.

-- Whether you're a celebrity -- or a square.

I am rather surprised  by that film

because your idea of  the perfect night out

is down in your shed,  mending an old motorbike.

So how come you like this car?

Well...  I don't like the look of it,  I have to say.

I don't like the chrome teeth.

Well, no, it's kind of  Jaws from Bond,--isn't it?  (GROWLING)

-MAY: Yeah, exactly.  -It's that whole thing  going on.

But I am with you.

-To drive, it's terrific.  -It's amazing, isn't it?

It's comfortable  and it's so quiet.

I thought it was gonna be  the most stupid car

in the known universe  when I got into it.  And I thought it was great.

I could wax lyrical about it  all day in fact,

but we must move on  and do the news.

Yes, it is. Now we all know  it's a very expensive business  designing a new car.

It costs millions and millions of pounds.

Now Porsche has set the trend  for not bothering  with the styling each time.

-No, I mean, the new 911.  -Same as the old 911.

Yeah.  New Boxster, we're looking  at it later in the show.

-Exactly the same  as the old one.  -Exactly.

Now Mitsubishi  have gone one step further

by not bothering  with the entire car.

Have a look at this.  It's the new  Mitsubishi Evo IX...

CLARKSON: Which looks  pretty much exactly the same  as the Evo VIII.

Yes, well, it is.

-CLARKSON: Engine?  -The same.

-Suspension?  -RICHARD HAMMOND:  Pretty much the same.

-Price?  -That's the same, £28,000,  it starts from.

It is, in fact,  exactly the same car.

What they've done here,  which is very clever,  is cross out VIII,

-and write on IX.  -(AUDIENCE LAUGHING)

-That's pretty much it. -That's genius!

I think it's  fantastic thinking.

You know what Lamborghini have done?

They've announced  they're going to make

a convertible version  of the Gallardo.

Okay, we've got  a picture of it here.

-Check it out.  -Wow! Cool.

What I love about this  most of all though,

is you see this  little groove thing here?

That's the rear-view mirror.

Now the reason  it folds away, okay,

is because,  according to a man  from Lamborghini,

"We're basically saying that

"most of the time,  you don't have to watch  what's behind you

"because you're faster  than anything else out there."

-(AUDIENCE LAUGHING)  -Hey! That is very Italian.

It is very Italian.

And because of that, I suspect that  the rear-view mirror,

when it does come up,  is like  a full-length mirror.

-Oh, yeah! Oh, yeah.  -I'm looking good.

Well, there's light bulbs  all the way round it.

Because of course,  looking good  is more important in Italy

than looking  where you're going.

-Or where you've been,  for that matter.  -Absolutely.

Right. Your mobile phone.  Okay?

Now, you're not allowed  to use this  when you're driving,

'cause that's illegal now,  so you have to have  a hands-free kit.

And the problem then is...



Hello? They're gone.  They don't work.

They're rubbish.  Hands-free kits are rubbish.


-Not this one.  -(LOUD LAUGHTER)

This is called the Phobile, okay?

And the brilliant thing is  it's got an attachment on it,

you stick it straight in your mobile phone, and break it like that.

-And then... -Is that real?

Yeah. It works.


Whitehall 1212, please.

-Technically,  you are hands-free.  -Completely.

So you can buy those, then?

Yeah, they're mail order, £33.

You get a red one,  you get straight through  to fighter command HQ

and scramble some Spitfires.

Hey, now. Hey, hey, hey!

Did you know  80% of Ford Focuses

sold in Sweden run on alcohol?

-I didn't know that, no.  -CLARKSON: No, it is.

It's not like...  It's not Bacardi Breezers.

It's made from sugar and wood,  apparently.

Actually, out where I live,  in Gloucestershire, we would  drink that as a cocktail.

"We'll have one of them wood and sugar cocktails! That's nice."

Anyway, the point is,  is that they're planning  on introducing this fuel here.

Yeah, they are. But there's a problem that I've seen.

-What?  -Because they're gonna sell it  from normal petrol stations,

but they're going  to distribute it,

or you are going to put it  in your car through  something called an alco-pump.


Which essentially means that when you get into the petrol station

in the evening,  it will be full of teenagers  in hoods.

Can't get served in the town.  Let's go down  to the filling station

and fill up on wood and...  What is it? Sugar.

Right. We've got to mention the Top Gear--survey.

-Oh, yes. That's important.  -BOTH: It is very important.

Because the thing is,  we can test cars on the show,

we can tell you  how fast they are,

and how big  the boot is and so on,  but only you can tell us

what they're like  to actually own  in terms of reliability.

-(LAUGHING) -What?

Oh, it's just recent  experiences, that's all.

-Oh, stop it. -(ALL LAUGHING)

I can tell you what it's like  to own a Ford GT,

but sadly, that's not in the survey, is it,  'cause it's...

No. It's got to be  between 2002 on an 02 plate

and 2004 on a 53 plate.

-It's dead easy...  -And if you have one of those,

-what do you do?  -Well, you log on...


...and you just click  a load of buttons.

Oh, crickey! Now,  here's a question for you.  Question for the audience.

Which is the only country  that can make  proper luxury cars?

-MAN: America!  -America?

-Who said America? -What?

No. The answer is... James?

The answer is France.


And to prove it, we've got  the latest French luxury car  right here in the studio.

This is the new Citroen C6.

This is going to be  on sale here from  the beginning of next year,

prices starting  from around £30,000.

And there's  a choice of engines.

A 2.7 litre diesel  or a nice three litre  V-6 petrol.

Now there is a tradition

that big luxury French cars are always loaded with clever technology.

This is no exception.  It's got the latest generation

of their computer-controlled  hydro-pneumatic suspension.

Inside it's got diffused  air conditioning,  whatever that is.

And a head-up display. All very clever stuff.

But most importantly...

Wow! Just look at it.  I mean, mon dieu!

I mean, zut alors and sacrebleu!

It is actually...  Seriously, this is  a fantastic-looking car.

It's contemporary.  It's really classy.

Look at that curve  in the window,  that is so lovely!

I have to say,  the French really are

very, very good at this sort of thing.

They say, "Non,"--to sporty,  firm suspension  and extreme performance.

Instead, they give us this  more sort of considered,

philosophical approach  to luxury.

I really, really approve  of that car.

-Watch it flop.  -(AUDIENCE LAUGHING)

Now, the cool wall.  And there's  a peculiarity on it, okay?

Because most of the world's expensive, exotic cars, like the Bugatti,

Porsche, Ford...Viper  are all grouped down here,

towards the seriously uncool  end of things.

And that's because  cars like this  tend to be kind of...

I don't know, ostentatious, which makes them vulgar and disgusting.

However, I think  I've found a couple  of exotic, expensive cars

which manage to make  the Queen  look nouveau riche.

-- What we have here  -- is an E-type Jaguar,

and an Aston Martin DB5.

Both are from the early '60s.

-- Both, back then,  -- were the GT cars

-- for the burgeoning  -- G and T generation.


-- Now, though,  -- they're even better.

-- They've become passports  -- to a world so cool,

the people there burn   Guardian furniture   supplements

just to keep warm.


Naturally, you're gonna want one.

But there are gonna be  some problems with that,  chief among which,

is the amount of money  that cars like this  cost these days.

-- This Series I E-type,  -- for instance,

-- is not the most  -- sought-after model.

-- Even so, a good one  -- will set you back £50,000.

Then there's the DB5.

-- This is much rarer  -- than the E-type.

They only made 1,000   and as a result, a good one   will cost around £120,000.

And what do you get  for this huge amount of money?

Well, you get a car from a time when men were in black and white

and there was no such thing as Fearne Cotton.


-- What you get is  -- a car that's 40 years old.

-- A car that predates  -- the invention

-- of the front-loading  -- washing machine.

-- And it's the same story  -- with the Jag.


The early models came  with a flat floor,

so there was  no space whatsoever  for a driver.

And this actually  didn't really matter,

because no driver in the world  could actually manage  the moss gearbox,

which was from the 1940s.

Changing gear, well, it was a bit like stirring coal.

So, what about the handling?

-- Well,  -- that'd probably kill you.

-- Luckily, -- most E-types overheated

-- long before they ever  -- actually got to a corner.


Whoa! God!

-- "Still," you're thinking,  -- "at least they'll be fast."

Well, they're certainly  not weighed down with airbags,  inertia reel seatbelts,

or anti-lock brakes, or any safety equipment whatsoever.

And there's no  catalytic converters either

because their engines were designed not to save the planet,

just to get round it as quickly as possible.

-- So to find out how fast -- they are by today's standards,

let's compare them   to a brand new 2.4 litre   Honda Accord.


How can this be?

How can I be losing  to a Honda?

-- It seems -- like a strange result.

-- I mean, when Jaguar launched  -- the E-type,

-- they said it would do  -- 150 miles an hour.

-- So how could it lose  -- to a Japanese box?

Well, let me explain.

They were lying!

It would barely do 140.

And Aston Martin  were just as guilty.

They said the DB5 Vantage  would produce

325 brake horsepower.

But it wouldn't!

You got 280, tops.

In reality, this car   would barely have   been able to keep up

-- with Goldfinger's  -- golden Rolls.

So the '60s styling  can move you.

But the '60s  engineering can't.

And speaking of which, I've just seen the temperature gauge,

which is, um... Hot.

This car, for instance,

hugely mollycoddled.

Lives on a bed  of peacock feathers

but even so, it's got a sticking rear brake.

And all the water  that you see here  on the floor,

a few moments ago,  it was all in there,  and it's come out.

See the joys  of classic car motoring.

-- So these cars are  -- ferociously expensive to buy,

-- not very nice to drive,  -- unsafe and slow.


And on top of all that,   they'll almost certainly   break down

-- every time there's  -- a week in the month.

You might imagine, then, that the price of all this coolness is too high.

But no.

-- You see, these days,  -- there are companies

that can modernise   cars like this   without changing the look.

-- Think of the operation  -- as automotive Botox,

nippy handling   thanks to nip/tuck   engineering.

This E-type, for instance,  appears to be  completely standard.

But it isn't.

If you get in close, you'll spot the big,  modern brakes,

the modern tyres and round the back, the modern suspension.

So it should stop and handle  like a modern car.

And if we lift up the bonnet,  behold the magnificence!

And behold also,  the cooling system

that can actually  cool the engine!

And the electrics  that don't need to be hit

with a hammer  before they'll work!


I have to say,  this is the nicest E-type  I've ever driven.

It's crisp,  the gearbox is good,  the brakes work,

the turning's sharp,  lots of grip.

And when it runs out,  lots of fun!

-- There are Aston Martin -- specialists

that can do the same sort of thing with your DB5.

-- They can enlarge the engine,  -- for instance,

-- so your car goes  -- like Aston said it would.

And that's just the start.

Inside, you can have  pretty much  whatever you want.

I mean, this grille,  behind which 007  had his tracking device,

you can have a sat-nav there  and you can even have  air-conditioning.

So you can be  as cool as you look.

Trouble is, all this work  isn't cheap.

I mean, the E-type  we've been looking at today,

that's currently on the market  for £90,000.

And you can spend  a lot more than that.


And if you want  a worked-over DB5,

that'll be £200,000.

Who cares, though?   Because think   what you're getting.


Twenty-first   century engineering   with '60s styling.

-- That's a pretty unbeatable -- combination.


Oh, yes. Thank you.

But this does raise  a good question.

Because could we  really recommend that  someone buys one of these

instead of a modern Ferrari or a modern DB9?

-Well, you do  have to sacrifice a lot.  -Yes, you do.

-I mean, comfort, speed...  -(CHUCKLING) Reliability.

Yes, you sacrifice the lot.

But look what  you're sacrificing it for.

I mean, they are  achingly beautiful things.

They are.  And the lovely thing,

if you drive around in this E-type,

nobody is going to think  you're a footballer.

-I mean...  What you looking at?  -(AUDIENCE LAUGHING)

You know how sometimes  you inadvertently catch  a glimpse up a lady's skirt?

If you look through  these slats on the bonnet,  you can...

Look, there's the manifold!

That's filth! That's filth in there!

Oh, yes!

I'm mesmerised.

Thing is though, we now  have to find out

which is the fastest  around our track.

We know they're slower  than a Honda Accord  in a straight line,

but we're going round  the corners as well.

That means of course,  we've gotta hand them over  to our tame racing driver.

Some say that  his breath smells of magnesium

and that he's scared of bells.

We know only that  he's called The Stig.


CLARKSON: Okay, away he goes.

-- Now, this Aston -- is completely original.

-- The brakes, tires,  -- suspension, engine,

they are all as they were   when it was built   by men in a shed,

so this could be interesting.

-- Already it's rolling  -- like...


-- Prog rock Stig back to Focus  -- this week.

House of the King.


-- Okay, right, -- comes through Chicago.

Good Lord, that's messy.

Oversteer...   Oh, a whole palette   of vintage behaviour here!

-- So what's it gonna be like -- in the Hammerhead?

-- Oh, look at those...  -- Everything going on!

And certainly not fast.

Whole car wishing it was   pottering through Monte Carlo   in '65.

Follow Through sounding good.   Don't think   The Stig's gonna lift off.

-- -No, he hasn't.  ---(TIRES SQUEALING)

If he did,   I think the car would grind   to a halt.

Penultimate corner...

-- Looking... Well, slow,  -- actually, frankly.

And the last corner, Gambon,   and, eventually,   across the line.

And we have a new record on the Top Gear--track.

The slowest car ever!


Oh, yeah!


-That's...  -It's disappointing, really.

That's what you call  progress, really.

Slower than a Range Rover,  but there we are.

We must now find out  how fast the tweaked  E-type goes.

And he's off again!

Now this car has   modern brakes, modern tires   and uprated suspension.

So hopefully,   it'll be rather more lively   than the Aston.

Let's find out. First corner.

-- Looking especially fast, -- but at least body roll

-- isn't on a par with that  -- of a small yacht.

Here we go into Chicago.

Oh, that is much better.

The cornering's neat and flat.

And Stig looking good!

Right, Hammerhead.

Tires squealing on the way in, but it's still keeping its composure.

-- Those updated bits  -- have clearly worked well.

Follow Through.

-- Sounding good  -- and looking gorgeous!

-- If you hear a funny noise  -- at this point,

-- it's Richard Hammond having  -- a trouser accident.

Coming up to...   There's Gambon.   And across the line!

I've got the time here,  and it was one minute 32.8.

Hey, that's not bad! That's not bad!


Look at this.

As near as  makes no difference,

exactly the same time  as a V6 engined Audi TT.

Yeah, and we say the TT  is a beautiful car.

-Look at that! -I know, unbelievable.

Anyway, we must now move on.

A lot of people say that  The Stig, who we've just seen,  is Damon Hill.

Well, let's ask him.  Ladies and gentlemen,  Damon Hill is here!


How are you?

Have a seat.

World champion!


-That is a big welcome!  -That is a fantastic welcome.  Thank you very much.

And obviously, I've got to start with the big question.

Are you The Stig?

Well, I am glad  you asked me that, Jeremy.

Because I get asked that  all the time.

And I keep saying, "No, I'm not The Stig."

-But they won't believe me, so I'm gonna get a T-shirt.  -Okay, prove it.

Well, I think I'd have to be  standing next to The Stig

or something like that  to prove that  I wasn't The Stig.

So if we had The Stig  next to me, perhaps  that would be proof

-once and for all.  -(AUDIENCE AGREEING)

-But you see,  we can't do that.  -No. I thought not.

Breathe on me.

-Breathe on you? -Yeah.

-(EXHALING LOUDLY)  -Magnesium.


-Formula One. -Yeah.

American Grand Prix.

What in the name of all  that's holy was that about?

It's outrageous. I mean...

You know,  six cars on the grid.

It was a very sad day and a complete fiasco.

Frank Williams  was quoted as saying,

"The atmosphere stinks  in Formula One at the moment."

Well, I mean, it's been pretty smelly for quite a long time.

This is because the teams  want to move away, isn't it?

-And form their own series? -Yeah.

And Bernie Ecclestone  doesn't want them to,

and Ferrari want to stay,  and the others want to go.

Yeah, there's  a lot of factions,

and there's a lot  of politics involved.

So if something  like this happens,

there's a problem with the tyre,

suddenly there's an opportunity

for certain people to make  political capital of it.

And I think, unfortunately,  that the fans, the people who  actually pay for these guys

to go and enjoy  themselves racing,

are left standing in  the grandstands, not seeing  what they're paying for.

You're right.  On the grandstands,  how many people?

200 million people worldwide.

It strikes me that Bernie  used to be this big power

and he was  completely in charge.

And he's lost  his power now, hasn't he?

Because in the past,  he would've just put  all the team managers

in the back of a van and broken their legs.

-Um... Yeah.  -On the grid.

It was all very simple  in the old days, wasn't it?

Even when you were racing,  he'd get things done,  wouldn't he?

I can remember sitting  on the grid for some races  and Bernie would come down,

and there would be about  that much water,  and a torrential downpour,

and we'd all be saying,  "Oh, it's a bit dangerous."

And he'd say, "You're driving,  you're driving,  you're driving."

-And we did.  -(CHUCKLES) Yeah.

That's how it should be.  You need a dictator.  You need me, really.

Actually, I've got some  great ideas for Formula One,  to be honest.

-We'd like to hear them. -Well, no, 'cause if...

I've always said, "If you pay the drivers a living wage,

"20 grand a year, okay,  they could live on that.

"And then give them a million every time they overtake someone."

Then watch them say  the aerodynamics...

Well, it was called Grand Prix  for that very reason.

I mean, the original idea was that it was a big prize you went racing for.

And then somehow, it got confused

and nobody knows  what you earn now  for winning a Grand Prix.

Oh, God, I don't know  what to do with it.

Anyway, listen, you, okay?

You're running a wedding car  business these days.

It's not a wedding car business, no, not quite.

It's a car club, which...

You've had all  the cars on this show,  the top cars.

Ferraris, Lamborghinis  and Aston Martins.  All of those top performers.

And you join...  Basically, it's a club  that you call P1, which you...

People pay yearly membership  and they can use all the cars  as much as they like.

So then you can drive a car...

You can just ring up and say, "I fancy a Ferrari this weekend,

-"or a Lamborg." -Yeah.

-Yet you drive an Audi A3.  -Yeah. Well,  it's a practical car.

(CHUCKLING) It is. Yeah, whatever.

I'm always fascinated by this.

I once went to interview  a fighter pilot. Bloke I had  met down in Boscombe Down.

He was a trainer. Bloke who trained  fighter pilots.

He had a beige Volvo.

HILL: Yeah.

Why do you all,  when you've lived

at 300 miles an hour, drive rubbish?

Because we've lived  at 300 miles an hour.

So you don't need  the actual...

What you just want  is something practical  that gets you around.

You don't need the thrill,  if you like, of driving.  You've had that.

What, so you just  pootle around now  in your Audi?

I don't exactly pootle, but you know...

There's too many people  driving very wide Ford GTs.

-(AUDIENCE LAUGHING) -And left-hand drives.

The slowest men  are not driving Ford GTs,  because it's...

Again, back with Ford.

Don't you miss the excitement  of going a million?

Well, there's  a corollary to that.

There's the imminent accident  that you can experience.

And I've had enough of that, really.

I raced up to the age of 39.

And I think, biologically,  we kind of get to the point

where a little voice  at the back of the head says,

"You know, you could  make it to 60

"if you really  took care of yourself,  if you're lucky."

I must confess, this is why I don't do the fighter jet  stuff anymore.

I just look at the kids and think,

"Why do I want to go  upside down now?"

I had enough of it. I don't need any more.

-No, I sympathise with you. -Yeah.

Okay, right. We've got to talk now about your lap.


It wasn't exactly  my neatest lap  I've ever done in my life.

But it's quite difficult  in one of those cars.

I'm not complaining  about the equipment, Jeremy.

Of course not.  That would be...  That would be poor form.

When was the last time  you drove competitively?

I think when  I was in Formula One.

Well, who'd like to see  how he got on then  basically in his comeback?


Play the tape.


-CLARKSON:   That's a rubbish start!  -HILL: Oh, come on.

It's obviously a lot slower than a Formula One car,

but I'm still feeling  a little bit of  the old adrenaline, yeah.

--CLARKSON: That's  -- a new line in there.

The Stig actually told me  I was doing it  all wrong there.

CLARKSON: Well, I suspect that... That looks quite quick.

No, it's almost like I've  forgotten how to do this.


-HILL: That was not bad.  -CLARKSON: No, that was   really very good.

-HILL: Right up to the edge.  -(CLARKSON LAUGHING)

-CLARKSON:   It's the Hammerhead!  -(TIRES SCREECHING)

-Ooh, a bit wobbly there!  -Ah, just went over the line.

I just killed a bug.

CLARKSON: I'm not even   going to ask you if you   lifted off for this one.

-- -Because there's no way.  ---HILL: That was flat.

--CLARKSON: Yeah,  -- looks pretty flat.

--HILL: Quite -- easily flat, that one.

CLARKSON: Here we go,   second to last corner,   catches most people out.

-- And you, you're on the grass,  -- like most people, and then...

Across the line!

So where do you think you've come here, then?


I dread to think, actually. It's gonna be a bit of a shock.

Come on. Tell me.

He actually said this morning,

(MOCKINGLY)  "Well, if I'm not at the top,  I'm going to be suicidal!"


You did it.

D. Hill. One minute,  50.3 seconds.



He actually believed me!

He fell for it!


Oh, I love that so much!

You actually did it in one minute,

46.3 seconds,  ladies and gentlemen!


Fastest ever!

Right up, Jimmy Carr,

Simon Cowell,

Jodie Kidd,

Ronnie O'Sullivan,  blown away.

I really ought to, though.  I wouldn't mind,  really, I mean.

Yeah, but this...  I have to ask you,

did you just find it  incredibly easy?

'Cause you were chatting  round there. Not even...

Yeah, I think it's quite easy,  one of those Suzukis.

There's quite a lot  of time to think.


But that's the funny thing, because that was...

I had started to think,  "Well, no one will  really ever go faster

"than, you know, Jimmy Carr.  It's as fast  as the car will go."

Now we know it isn't.

But the thing is though,  I am not going to put you  on that board.

No, I thought not.

We anticipated you  might be the fastest man  ever to come here,

so we've had an entirely new  board made up,

which is for  Formula One drivers.

-Here it is. Okay? -Yeah.

And you are going  at the top of that.


I think this could be  a brilliant idea,

because now that  Formula One racing,

-well, doesn't really  happen anymore...  -Yeah.

If the drivers feel the need  to come and have a go  on a track,

they can land their jets here.

-We have no ad breaks.  -Yeah.

They don't have to wear a hat.

They don't have to say for me,  "The car was perfect,"

in a press conference  afterwards.

And do you know the best thing?

We checked it  this morning, it's true,

the Suzuki runs  on Bridgestones!


So there you are,  you're at the top of that.

And if any more F1 drivers  out there  who want to give it a go,

you are more than welcome!

-Anyway, ladies and gentlemen,  Damon Hill!  -Thank you!



Now, I've got two words.  Two words for you, okay.

Maserati Coupe.

Together they sound fantastic!

Unfortunately, the reality  has never quite measured up.

We last tested the Maserati Coupe three years ago

-and we didn't much   care for it.  -(TIRES SCREECHING)

-- We didn't like -- the psychotic handling.


Or the looks. Or the interior.

-- Most of all, we didn't like  -- the flappy-paddle gearbox.

Great gearboxes, these. Love them.


HAMMOND: In fact, the only thing we did like was the engine.

That's not exactly  a long list of plus points.

Still, if Maserati's given it  another go, so should we.

-- This is the new one.  -- It's called the GranSport.

And straightaway, you can tell that this is more hardcore.

It's got a bigger,  meaner grille

that should stack up  a spectacular fly kill.

These side skirts  are like surfboards.

And in each corner,  huge 19-inch wheels.

The volume really is nudging up towards 11.


You get more power, too. An extra 10bhp from the 4.2 litre V8,

which brings it up  to a nice, meaty 396.

So nought to 60,  4.8 seconds,

top speed,  an enormous 180 miles an hour.

All of which  is frankly worrying.

Because from past experience,  the last thing this car needed  was more power.

Quite frankly, it was already

a bit of a wild   and unruly beast   with what it already had.

But you know what?  Here, today, now,  in this GranSport,

I think they've cracked it.


The whole car  has been lowered,

the suspension's been stiffened.

All the computer software  that controls the chassis

has been modified  and improved.

And I can tell you  all of those facts.

-- But what's hard to describe  -- is just how different,

just how much better,   this one-time mongrel   now feels.

It's grown-up.  It all comes together  and works.

It feels confident,  planted, sure-footed.

I know I can use  all that power,  even the extra power.

There's a button down here  marked "sport".

Press it, which you will,  and wonderful things happen.

The suspension  is stiffened up.

And there's a little flap  in the exhaust that opens,

so the noise...

-Well, does that! -(ENGINE ROARS)

That is sporty.

-- Maserati has also had a crack  -- at improving the interior.

The new seats are fantastic and there's carbon fibre on the centre console,

the dash, and this  weird-shaped steering wheel

that gives you a clear view of the clocks.

The only really odd thing  is this material.

It's a sort of  space-age tweed.

And I just don't see  the point of it.

Not unless James May  becomes an astronaut.

This Maserati is starting   to look like the car   it should always have been.

-- And there's something else.  -- The badge is now cool.

Bono has bought a Quattroporte.

Jamie Oliver, saviour  of schoolchildren,  he is a Maserati man.

This car costs £66,000, or the same price as a Porsche Carrera S.

And in the past, I'd have said, "No contest. Buy the Porsche."

-- Now, though, the Maserati  -- is a real contender.

-- But there is one issue  -- still to settle.

The flappy-paddle gearbox.

-- This was the Achilles heel -- of the old car.

-- It was as sluggish and jerky  -- as going to work on a camel.

The thing is, though,  it's all controlled  by computer software

and blokes with lots of pens  in their top pocket  have been fiddling with it.

So, have their changes worked?

To find out,   I've come to the   Varano de' Melegari circuit.

They test Maseratis here,   and it's somewhere   that allows me free rein

-- to really give the GranSport  -- a spanking.

This place is thick with  second and third-gear corners

that'll show us whether you  really can teach  some old cogs new tricks.

And just to spice things up,   I'm going to see how close   I can get my lap time

to that of Maserati's   chief test driver,   Gabriele Tarquini.

So, no pressure there, then.

Tarquini laid down a time.

Yeah, he's pretty quick.

Flat on this chicane.

HAMMOND: A rather quick time.

That wasn't bad.

-Yeah, the car is warm  and now it's your turn. -Thank you so much.

-- But now, let him watch -- and learn.


I'm braking as hard as I possibly can up to the first corner.

Turn in.

This is not an automatic gearbox, remember. It is a manual gearbox.

You change gear  using these flappy paddles.

You have to accept that.

There is an automatic mode, but it's still a manual gearbox.

A bit too late  on the throttle.

Brake. Turn in.

But do you know what?  I like it!

Brake hard.


I think it works.

This is the first time, finally,

I'm happy with  the flappy-paddle gearbox.

Finishing line ahead!

This is it.  How close will my time be?

And I've done it!



Can I just ask? Can I just ask?

Can you have this thing with a proper gearbox?

No. It's flappy-paddle only,  I'm afraid.

But... No, it works! I like it in this car.

It won't work! I mean,  they work on a track, fine.

But have you ever  tried parking with  a flappy-paddle gearbox?

Because you've got no clutch,  you either roll  into the car in front

or drive at a very high speed  into the car behind.

-That's all you can do.  -No, it can be tricky  but in this car, for once...

-Don't argue. -But...

No, I don't want you to argue.  That's the fact.  They're rubbish.

-But for once...  -You're arguing!  If you carry on arguing,

I'm going to show  everyone here  the telemetry from your lap.

No! But this...

-He's arguing! Who wants to  see the telemetry from his...  -(AUDIENCE CHEERING)

-Yes, fine. Here we go.  I've got it here.  -No, I've got to explain.

Telemetry is a computer  printout from the car  about how fast you're going

and what you were doing when you were steering.

And it's far too complicated  to work on the television  and we won't understand it.

So I don't think  we should bother. Please!

I think we will understand it,  ladies and gentlemen.  Here it is.

Okay, now this blue line here,  this was set by Tarquini,

who basically is a  middle-aged, bald man who once  crashed a touring car.

Okay? And that's his line.  And then the red line is...

That's mine.  Basically, if you look  at the blue line as right,

-and I'm consistently  at no point on it.  -(AUDIENCE LAUGHING)

Although, in your defence,  here, momentarily,  you are faster.

Because this is speed.  You're faster than...

If you look at what  happened afterwards,  I'm then in a complete mess

-for the next three corners,  as a result!  -That's true.

My favourite though,  my favourite is the braking.

-What happened here?  -I don't know...

CLARKSON:  He's fully on the brakes.  You're... What?

I think I might have  left the track  and gone shopping, at that.

I think I was pulling up  outside a shoe shop.

-It's not good. -The fact is, though... That fact is your time.

-Yes.  -You were...

And this isn't bad.  You were only, what was it?

-Four seconds.  -Four seconds a lap slower.

And I was quite pleased  until I worked out  on the way home,

four seconds,  on a one-minute lap,

which means, in a 70-lap race,

he'd have lapped me  five times!


Right, our quest continues to  find the greatest driving song  in the world ever.

Here are our five finalists,  as nominated by you.

And as you can see,  they still include  that massive albatross poo

on the windscreen  of popular music,

Meat Loaf's Bat Out Of Hell.

However, it's not all over  and that hasn't won yet.

You see, each week, we're going to show you

a short film about  one of these songs,

tell you a bit about it and why it was written,

and then you get  a chance to vote for  the absolute winner.

Here's this week's.


MAY: Our first contender   is by a Dutch band called   Golden Earring.

-- # I've been drivin' all night  -- My hand's wet on the wheel

-- # There's a voice in my head  -- that drives my heel

MAY: It features one of   the most preposterous lines   in any rock lyric.

-- # And it's half-past 4:00  -- and I'm shifting gear

--MAY: But then comes the chorus -- and all is forgiven.

# When she is lonely

-- # And the longing  -- gets too much

-- # She sends a cable  -- coming in from above

# Don't need no phone at all

-- # We've got a thing  -- that's called radar love

# We've got a wave in the air

# Radar love #

MAY: The lyrics were   written in just four hours,   late one night.

It's a dark, brooding song,   about a man trying to talk   to his dead lover,

which makes it perfect for driving at night and in the early dawn.


--Radar Love was a worldwide hit -- when it came out in 1973

and has since been covered by fans such as U2, R.E.M. and Bryan Adams.

The lead singer   may look a bit of a girl   in his sister's clothes,

-- but when it comes to  -- driving songs, he's the man.


Okay. Now, to vote for  Golden Earring's Radar Love,

you dial 09011-98-6363.

And press 1 on your keypad. That'll cost you 10p.

You can vote for any song at any time with the appropriate number,

but we have just heard  from the British  Medical Association,

that Meat Loaf  contains herpes.

Okay, now, in the olden days,  you could only buy  a Porsche Boxster

if you were a stick-thin  city boy

with floppy hair  and a squash racket  and a friend called Dom.

And you could only buy  a Mercedes SLK  if you were a girl.

Uh, now though, there are  new versions of these cars.

And, apparently,  things have changed.

This is the new Boxster.

-- And if you study  -- the details of it very hard,

you still won't be   able to tell it apart   from the old one.

-- Porsche design.  -- The least a man can get.

-- Happily, however, Porsche's  -- engineering department

has expended a bit of effort   with both the chassis   and the power plant.

-- You can buy the new Boxster  -- with a 2.7 litre engine.

But, while that may say   Porsche on the back,   it goes more like a porch.

This, though, is a Boxster S,  which has a 3.2 litre engine.

This is much more like it.

The engine may be  the same size as it was  in the old Boxster S,

but it's now lighter  and cleaner.

And you get 20 more  brake horsepower.

That means 0-60   in 5.5 seconds.   And a top speed,

of 167.

-- Then there's the price.  -- £38,000,

for a fast, practical, well-made, two-seater sports car.

That's good value.

Inside, it's much better  than it used to be,  in the old car.

I mean,  it's no longer laid out  like a children's playroom,

you get air-conditioning,  which you never used to get.

Lots of new air bags,

and best of the lot  this little tray here

into which you put your SIM card.

And then, when you close it,  you end up with a big,  3.2 litre telephone.


It all sounds very good,

-- except it has exactly the same -- problems as the old Boxster.

The only reason why you would  buy one of these is because  you can't afford a 911.

So all you're doing as  you drive around

is advertising the fact that  your life hasn't worked out

quite as well as you'd  been hoping.

-- And then there's the feel -- of the thing. It's just too...


It's kind of like an iPod.

Brilliant, clean,  easy to use, great sound.

But not quite the same  as seeing the band live.

That's where this comes in.

-- We've actually reviewed  -- the new Mercedes SLK before.

And we liked it a lot.

That one only had a 3.5 litre V6 engine.

This one has a 5.5 litre V8!

That's 5,500 cc in a car  the size of a shoe!

You really have to think of this thing as a lightning jet fighter.

Just a huge engine  and a steering wheel.

And that's it.

And listen to the noise it makes. Listen to this. Ready?


It is monstrously fast.

-- It goes from 0-60 in  -- 4.5 seconds

-- and has to be physically  -- restrained at 155.

It's not all sweetness  and light, though.

It doesn't have the poise or  the delicacy of the Porsche.

The ride is  bone-shakingly hard

and the anti-lock brakes  cut in just a little bit  too soon, I think.

You get a seven-speed  gearbox.

Too much choice!

And it doesn't feel  as well made as the Porsche.

Everything has a kind of  cheap feel to it.

-I mean, listen to this.  -(SCRATCHING)

Till now I didn't actually  realize you could  get sun visors from Matalan.

Thing is though, you   have to concentrate hard   to notice any of these things

-- because that engine -- sits in the mix

-- like a giant anchovy  -- on a mini pizza.

It dominates everything.

-- This is just so much more  -- exciting than the Porsche.

And what's more,   you have to say   it's better looking.

-- And while the Boxster has  -- a neat folding roof,

-- the SLK's hardtop  -- is miles more impressive.

When it is down, you get  the benefit of these little  vents in the headrests here,

which waft warm air into  the back of your neck  as you're driving along.

That is a very good idea.

-- So what we have here -- is an iPod and a lightning jet

-- with hairdryers  -- in its headrests.

-- Two different ways of building -- a sports car

and now we must send them   to fight club to see   which is best.

This is the battleground.   The village of Eastmere,   in Norfolk.

It was built by the Army   to be a replica   of a German hamlet,

-- somewhere they could practise  -- fighting the Russians.

-- But, unfortunately, -- it was opened in 1989,

-- just 12 weeks before  -- the Berlin Wall came down.

Today it's used to train  the troops in the art  of urban warfare,

which is kind of what  I've got in mind.

You see, what I'm gonna  do is drive each of  the cars in turn

right round the village

while an elite eight-man  sniper squad from  the Irish Guards

tries to shoot me.

Now obviously, I'm going to  take the fewest number of hits

in the car which is  the fastest and most agile.

So, that'll be the winner.

Great test!

These are the men in question.

They're all battle hardened   and they've all got   the Mark II version

of the Army's SA 80 rifle,

-- which differs from the Mark I  -- because it works.

Unfortunately, the BBC's  Health and Safety  Department say

we can't use live bullets.

I know it's ridiculous  but there we are.  So, what are we doing instead?

We're gonna use a laser  targeting system attached  to our weapons.

CLARKSON: And I'll be   wearing a talking jacket   fitted with sensors

-- that'll detect any shots  -- from the rifles.

-- Then a computer boffin  -- will log the hits.

--AUTOMATED VOICE:  -- Wounded. Wounded.

You go get in your positions  and I'm coming, ready or not.


There we go!


My God!


This is horrible!


Where the hell are these guys?  I can hear them, I don't know  where they are!

--AUTOMATED VOICE:  -- Wounded. Left arm.

-It is so beautifully  balanced.  -(TYRES SQUEALING)

You can really stick it in.



I like this car.


They won't be expecting this.


Yes. Safe.

Well, sort of.

-- Unfortunately my plan gave -- the soldiers a chance

-- to reposition,  -- regroup and reload.

Come on, come on, come on,  come on!

-- So when I came out, -- I was in real trouble.


(SCREAMS) Help me!

And there we are, back again.

-- In the Porsche,  -- I was hit six times.

-- So let's see how I get on  -- in the Mercedes.





I have soiled myself.

I love that noise.

-(GUNSHOTS)  -Come on, come on, come on!


What a mad, mad car!

It's completely insane.


Come on, automatic gearbox, wake up!

Come on!


AUTOMATED VOICE: Wounded.   Head, chest, left arm,   right arm.



I've been shot in the ear,  the chest, the lung.

I've made a big mess  in my pants.

They're throwing grenades!

(SCREAMS) Help me!



I've crossed the line!

I'm back.

AUTOMATED VOICE:   Wounded, head, chest,   left arm, right arm.

Wounded, wounded, wounded.


-I'm officially  four years old.  -You're a big kid.

I am four. I am four.

Hey, now,

the extraordinary thing is, I didn't see these guys all day.

But here they are.

The guys who shot at me from the Irish Guards!

CLARKSON:  Thank you very much.

Oh, yes!

Did you all have to  use blanks?

Couldn't one of you  just have accidentally...

I mean, you had the best view  of him ever with crosshairs.

You could have  just accidentally...

Can I just talk  about the cars for a minute?

-In the Porsche, you were  shot six times, yes?  -Yes.

-How many times  in the Mercedes?  -Ah, 13.

-Thirteen. -Yes, 13 times in this.

Well, that shows that this is  more agile, faster.  This is the better car.

No, because you see...

You said, didn't you,  after I'd driven the Porsche

which went in first,  you'd got your eye in,  you got the lead,

so when I went out in the Merc  they knew, kind of,  where to point.

-So this is a useless test? -No, it's not useless.


A, I had very good fun,  really good fun,

and B, I drove the cars  back-to-back, same terrain

and the Porsche is brilliant,  absolutely brilliant,

but this is just astonishing.

The engine is amazing.

I love this car. This would be my choice without a moment's hesitation.

No, but you're saying that you  want the car that costs  £11,000 more,

isn't as good to drive  as that one and gets you  shot more?

-Yes, that's basically it and  you agree with me, don't you?  -I do.

And on that bombshell,  it's time to end.

Next week,  you know the races we do?

We've raced to Verbier  and Monte Carlo,

we've got our biggest ever  next week.

Don't miss it.  See you then. Good night.