Top Gear (series 11)
The 11th series of Top Gear was broadcast between 22 June 2008 and 27 July 2008, in show's usual time slot of 8pm on Sunday on BBC Two. The series consists of six episodes. This series included a revised title sequence, following the same visual style as with the sequence used for Series 8 through 10, but incorporating footage from the two prior series. A new character (Top Gear Stunt Man) was introduced in the first episode of the series. Also for the first five episodes of this series, the "Star in a Reasonably Priced Car" becomes "Stars in a Reasonably Priced Car", featuring two celebrity guests every week, each one setting an individual laptime. In May 2008, after series producer Andy Wilman held a brainstorming session with the presenters and other production staff, various facts about the upcoming series were released. Wilman confirmed that series 11 would see the presenters, Clarkson, Hammond and May, gain more control over the flow of the show's popular news segment. The series included running jokes appearing in each episode: Clarkson showing an image he claims to have found on "the Internet" which is censored for the television broadcast; and, in the news section, May appearing to feign enthusiasm whilst presenting a brief news item about the Dacia Sandero with no further discussion before they move on to the next item.
|90||Series 11 Episode 1||22 June 2008||Alan Carr and Justin Lee Collins|
Challenge: Fuel Economy Part 1: The Top Gear team are advised that they must discuss fuel economy, so they decide to find the most economical supercar. The Ferrari 599, Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren, Lamborghini Murciélago LP640, Aston Martin DBS, and Audi R8 were taken around the track at maximum speed, each given one gallon (4.55 l) of fuel, to see how far they could travel. The first loser, the Ferrari, coughed up a mere 1.7 miles (2.7 km), and the winner, the Audi, managed 5 miles (8.0 km) (56.9 L/100 km).
Challenge: Fuel Economy Part 2: In ten laps at maximum speed, a Toyota Prius is shown to manage 17.2 miles per imperial gallon (16.4 L/100 km). A BMW M3 follows directly behind it at the same speed for the entire time, and is able to achieve 19.4 miles per imperial gallon (14.6 L/100 km) with its 4.0 L V8 engine. Clarkson declares that it doesn't matter what you drive, but how you drive it.
Main Review: Clarkson reviews the Ferrari 430 Scuderia. After seemingly damning the car's electronic interferences, he praised it as the finest Ferrari in years. The Stig then drove it around the track in 1:19.7, making it 0.7 seconds slower than the Enzo Ferrari, despite the fact that Ferrari claimed it went faster than the Enzo around their test track.
Challenge: May introduces a new Top Gear member, the Top Gear Stunt Man(credited as Jim Dowdall, though not named in-programme). May has the stuntman try to break a non-existent record of most cars jumped over by a vehicle moving backwards. They choose an Austin Allegro Vanden Plas 1500, claiming that the aerodynamics are better going backwards than normally.
Challenge: Make a Better Police Car:: The Top Gear team seek to prove that cheap used cars would make better police cruisers than the Vauxhall Astra diesel that British police use. They must purchase their own vehicles for £1000 or less and modify them for £500 or less. Points were awarded for money saved on the initial purchase only.
Clarkson bought a £900 turbocharged 20V Fiat Coupé onto which he fitted scythed wheel covers (as on a scythed chariot) and marked it as an Italian Polizia di Stato cruiser. May bought an old Lexus LS400 for £900, onto which he fitted a rear-mounted paint gun system, a "siren" taken from an ice cream van, and marked in a classic "jam sandwich" livery. Hammond bought a £750 Suzuki Vitara which he covered in lightbars, and onto which he mounted an ambitious self-deploying spike strip. They were first challenged to set lap times against The Stig in his Astra diesel while also earning points for flair; none of them beat the Stig, and only Hammond earned any flair points (one, for driving through a pile of boxes). They then had to clear a road of mangled cars and bloody mannequin bodies, which they did successfully. Finally, they had to combine forces to try and stop the Stig as he drives around the track in a BMW 7 Series. May fired a jet of paint at the BMW's windscreen, momentarily obscuring the Stig's view, until he simply cleared it away with his windscreen wipers. Hammond attempted to catch the Stig with his spike strip, but it proved much too short. Finally, Clarkson attempted to disable the Stig's car with his spiked wheels, but only succeeded in causing minor bodywork damage to the BMW before the stress generated caused his car's rear wheel to break off. Hammond declared victory, and ate the paper containing the evidence when a disbelieving Clarkson disputed the result.
|91||Series 11 Episode 2||29 June 2008||Rupert Penry-Jones and Peter Firth|
Main Review: Clarkson tests the new Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X and the new Subaru Impreza WRX STI. He lavishes immense praise on the handling characteristics of the Evo, and bashes the Impreza as ugly and less fun to drive. The Evo appears to be more precise and more agile, while the Impreza (markedly cheaper in the UK market) is said to look like a 'war wound' and sound like it is being fuelled by mogadon. Although Jeremy dislikes the STI, it turns out to be faster around the track by setting a lap time of 1:28.2, against which the Mitsubishi achieves 1:28.22.
News: The Top Gear team continue their campaign against road signs, especially those concerning squirrels. They also note that the Vauxhall Vectra is dead and is replaced with the good-looking Vauxhall Insignia; they believe that with the precedent of the new Citroën C5 and Ford Fiesta, that mainstream cars are becoming the best-looking of all. Clarkson compares the Stig to the archaeologists in the Doctor Who episode "Silence in the Library".
Review/Challenge: Hammond reviews the second-generation Audi RS6 Avant near Tignes and Villaroger in the French Alps. With a twin-turbo V10 engine producing 572 horsepower (427 kW), the RS6 is significantly more powerful than its rivals, the BMW M5 Touring, and the Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG estate. However, it is also far more expensive with a base price of about 75,000 GBP. Hammond tests the car's handling and power by driving across down a stretch of road from the Arc 1950 ski resort at Les Arcs to Villaroger in a race against two French skiers who ascend to the mountaintops of Mont Pourri, then reach the bottom with parachutes and skis. Hammond loses the challenge because he gets lost in the village streets at the end of the trip.
Challenge: James May has the Top Gear Stuntman attempt to replicate the extremely difficult stunt from The Man with the Golden Gun, in which a car crosses a river while completing a full 360-degree spin. However, as he does it with a front-drive MG Maestro rather than the rear-drive AMC Hornet used in the film, May must rework the physics on the jump. His calculations are a bit off, as it is a miserable failure.
Cool Wall: The Cool Wall is resurrected. They have a complete switch-up of priorities, for example deeming BMWs cool, and Audis uncool. The Fiat Panda moves from cool into way beyond seriously uncool, due to James May owning one. Hammond goes too far when he attempts to move all Aston Martins into uncool. When he touches the DB9 fridge, Jeremy restrains him and puts the card high up in sub-zero. He then steals Hammond's microphone so there is no more argument.
Review: Clarkson drives the Mercedes-Benz CLK63 AMG Black Series. The Black Series provides more power than the 481 horsepower (359 kW) standard; it is lightened and tightened. It's the first car that Jeremy ever receives which comes with a warning from the manufacturer itself. However, it retains comfort, luxuries, an automatic gearbox, and civility. Clarkson goes driving just for the sake of driving, and finds it to be ideal from a purist's perspective. Clarkson calls it a perfect blend of supercar fun and practicality, and he calls it his new favourite car. According to Clarkson, the Stig also notes that it's the most fun car he had driven in years.
|92||Series 11 Episode 3||6 July 2008||James Corden and Rob Brydon|
Challenge: The Top Gear presenters attempted to prove to the show's producers that to be a true "petrolhead", you need to have owned an Alfa Romeo. Each presenter was told to buy any Alfa Romeo they wanted with their own money. Clarkson bought an Alfa Romeo 75 3.0 V6 (for £450), Hammond bought an Alfa Romeo Spider 2.0i (for £1000), and May bought an Alfa Romeo GTV 2.0 Twin Spark (for £995). They first had to attend a track day at Rockingham Raceway Circuit. They would lose a point if overtaken and gain a point for overtaking other vehicles; all of their Alfas broke down due to mechanical failures and broken parts. Their competitors were mostly much faster track cars, primarily Porsche 911s, and each presenter was overtaken about two hundred times.
They then had to make a calendar featuring their car and sell them in a newsagent; each presenter made a poor effort and none were sold. Finally, they had to decorate and restore their cars to enter an Alfa Romeo Concours competition. Richard had to be towed as his engine overheated when his hand-cranked water pump broke. Jeremy and Richard got the two lowest scores ever recorded at the competition (out of 150, 23.5 and 9 respectively). James' GTV had been carefully polished and he earned 74 points, his score let down by the presence of reeking cheese gratings added to the engine bay by Jeremy and Richard from spite. However, Jeremy won the overall challenge because his car's initial price was so cheap.
Review: Clarkson reviews the Bentley Brooklands, a hand-made car billed as the roomiest two-door vehicle in the world and yet with a top speed of 185 mph (298 km/h). During a power slide he blows out one of the tyres due to the car's torque. It did not set a lap time as Jeremy said "The Stig might as well drive this studio around the track".
News: Clarkson predicts that the British Grand Prix was won by a man, as the field only consists of male drivers. This spurs into a discussion about the lack of female racing drivers. He shows a poll of the top 10 sexiest female racing drivers, in which May (despite being male) was among one of the contestants .
Stars in a Reasonably Priced Car: 'Gavin & Stacey' stars James Corden and Rob Brydon. In wet conditions, Rob managed a 1:51.7, which was slower than his friend Steve Coogan in hot conditions, whom he had beaten in the Suzuki Liana. Corden (who, up until appearing on the show, had only driven an automatic car) managed a 1:53.4.
|93||Series 11 Episode 4||13 July 2008||Fiona Bruce and Kate Silverton|
Review: Jeremy reviews the Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione. The Stig manages a lap time of 1.38.2 in extremely wet conditions, making it one of the slowest cars around the track, although many powerful cars like the Mercedes-Benz SL55AMG (1.33) had slow times due to the sheer amount of rain the track. He calls it utterly impractical, not very nice to drive, not very well-made, but beautiful and raucous: a pure work of art.
Challenge: Jeremy goes to Japan to drive a Nissan GT-R and James and Richard greet him with a challenge: travel across Japan from Hakui to the top of Mount Nokogiri in Chiba, where they would meet at a "Buddha dedicated to road safety." The two would take a long, complicated and ad hoc combination of bullet trains, buses, a ferry, and finally a cable car. Jeremy would take a shorter path using the GT-R, but he would have to pass through crowded Tokyo en route, and he had to rely on satnav that only communicated in Japanese. Both teams encounter trouble en route: Jeremy accidentally turns his satnav system off (he manages to turn it back on again 45 minutes later, but by this time Hammond and May have reclaimed the lead from him), while James and Richard were temporarily separated when their last train on Keikyū was split. The final distance to the goal had to be covered by running for all three; Jeremy winds up winning the challenge by 3 minutes, 12 seconds.
|94||Series 11 Episode 5||20 July 2008||Peter Jones and Theo Paphitis|
Review: Clarkson, reviews the Nissan GT-R and tests its abilities on the Fuji Speedway. He is impressed by its electronically-assisted handling and sheer attention to detail put into preparing each hand-crafted car to both provide and cope with the severe cornering, but is himself forced to stop when the strong G-forces cause him a strained neck, and he leaves the scene in an ambulance. The Stig, with a "weapons-grade titanium neck", survives driving the since-imported car to post a time of 1:19.7.
Mini Feature: James shows off the Renault Megane Coupé Concept, including its power doors and keyless engine start, which are remote-controllable by mobile phone; however, the car will not go into production. Peugeot are offering a real world alternative in the 308 RCZ coupe, with a supercharged 1.6 litre 218 bhp (163 kW) engine (from the 207 GTi) and a specially-shaped rear window that removes the need for a spoiler. Richard however criticises the extremely unspacious rear seats, explaining that "even I'd struggle to get in there!"
News: Jeremy reveals the Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG Black Series, with a 6 L V12, the torque of which has to be limited to 1000 N•m (737 ft·lbf); it is £100,000 cheaper than the less powerful SLR McLaren. James posits that Citroën is the only manufacturer which makes only good-looking cars, but is shot down when Richard reminds him of the Pluriel. They settle upon Vauxhall, partly on the basis of the new Agila. Hilary Benn's suggestion that higher fuel cost is a good idea leads to criticism. Richard complains that all his village's local services have been withdrawn and that a car is the only means of accessing the alternatives in other towns. Jeremy likens Gordon Brown to Stalin, saying he is restricting movement by raising fuel tax, and that ID cards and curfews are to follow. Councillor Peter Greenalls is lauded for having the entire Swindon speed camera system scrapped.
Main Challenge: Clarkson's wife had bought him a 1969 Großer Mercedes-Benz for Christmas, and May bought a 1972 Rolls-Royce Corniche Coupé "HJ Mulliner-Park-Ward" edition. They are set a series of challenges, including a handling test on a slalom course vs a 1.1 L Hyundai i10, a top speed and braking run, a quarter mile "push" race, and a test to successfully and legally park their cars in the middle of London. Neither presenter manages to complete the final two tests, but Jeremy tries to claim victory over James' "Ford Zephyr" on the basis of better performance and handling, having more (hydraulic) toys, being owned by more celebrities (albeit mainly military dictators, vs James' camp icons), a louder horn, and ultimately "having more petrol in" when James runs out and has to syphon some from the Mercedes, still hunting for a space. James' car won some points as it was easier to push, and significantly cheaper to service.
Challenge: "Saving the Countryside" - with Fox hunting banned, and "Green Laning" under threat, Clarkson and Hammond invent a new "perfectly legal" rural sport combining the two controversial activities, "Small Japanese Off-Roader Hunting". Jeremy takes a 4WD Daihatsu Terios, towing a scent-laced satchel in a similar manner to drag hunting, and sets off through the fields towards Tewkesbury, aiming for a hill outside the town. After a two-minute head start, a mounted hunting pack, including Hammond, follows in pursuit. Clarkson manages to successfully keep ahead of the pack for almost the entire 9-mile (14 km) trail, demonstrating the mini-SUV's offroad ability, despite his aggressive driving through rough terrain. He is eventually caught when he crashes into a ditch and becomes stuck whilst searching for a bridge across the River Severn. Humorously, Hammond and May state the Jeremy was, in fact, killed by the hunting pack.
|95||Series 11 Episode 6||27 July 2008||Jay Kay|
Review: James conducts two road tests in Japan, on the Mitsuoka Orochi and the Galue. He is impressed in both of the cars by their stylish look and the attention to detail on the making of a good VIP car. The test of using the Galue to chauffeur two Sumo wrestler VIPs does not end well however, with James' driving upsetting the passengers.
Review: Richard tests the Gumpert Apollo and talks about the strange look, adjustable suspension system, fixed seats and the enormous power from a twin-turbo 4.2L V8 engine mounted at the middle. The Stig clocks a 1:17.1 on the test track, beating the record set by the Ascari A10. Hammond is unable to put the time at the top of the board due to his height so decides to try a run up but ends up knocking the whole Power lap board over and wrecking it. This episode's Stig intro (By Hammond): "Some say it's impossible for him to wear socks and he can open a beer bottle with his testes. All we know is, he's called The Stig!"
Star in a Reasonably Priced Car: Jay Kay achieved the fastest time around the track; beating Simon Cowell, with a time of 1:45.81. It was the third time both the Power Lap and the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car record times fell on the same show. The previous two occurrences were in series 7, Episode 4, when both records were beaten by the Pagani Zonda and Ellen MacArthur and in series 10, Episode 5, for the Caparo T1 and Simon Cowell respectively. However, the Caparo was disallowed from the board due to its ride height.
Challenge: Britain v Germany. A series of car challenges deciding the best motoring country. The German team was made up of the presenters of German motoring show D Motor (Sabine Schmitz, Carsten van Ryssen and Tim Schrick), while Jeremy, James, and Richard made up the British Team. The challenges were set on the Zolder circuit, in Belgium. In the challenges the British team only managed to win two (the drag race and the off-road racing) and lost in the "double-decker" race, autocross and the Mini challenge. The Top Gear team managed to salvage victory in the final challenge, a two-lap race between two racing cars (an Aston Martin DBRS9 and a Porsche 997 GT3 Cup), by passing the Stig off as James May, despite the scepticism of their opponents.
- Clarkson, Jeremy (13 January 2008). "Mazda MX-5 - It's far too cool for you, Mr Footballer". timesonline.co.uk. Retrieved 21 July 2008.