The very popular, estimated to have 350 million views per week, new Top Gear episode aired tonight. It was a good one. The featured cars included a Pagani Huayra and Bentley Continental GT Speed, and Homeland star Damian Lewis.
The 230 MPH Pagani Huayra sports a twin-turbo and intercooled 6.0L V12 (producing 720 BHP) and connected to a 7 speed single-clutch transmission. Prices start at €849,000 or approximately $1.3M. What does this steep admission price get you? Aside from reaching 0-60 MPH in 3.2 seconds you get a visually distinctive design, described by Richard Hammond as a “Victorian’s idea of the 23rd century”, and bragging rights that it is the fastest car ever around Top Gear’s test track. The Stig clocked a 1:13.8 second time, besting a very-track-oriented Arial Atom V8 (which recorded a 1:15.1). They showed an indicated 185 MPH (298 KPH) while driving around the test track.
Some other interesting details of the Pagani Huayra:
- the badge takes 1 day to produce from a piece of billet aluminum; the wheels 5 days
- every fastener is made from titanium to save weight
- it is made from carbontanium, a blend of carbon fiber and titanium; the regular Zonda gets by with “just” carbon fiber
- a Meccano-like gear selector made from 67 pars for just the right ‘click’
It does not sport a dual clutch transmission, instead favoring a (claimed) 100 kg (220 lb.) savings in lieu of faster shifts.
Hammond did a drift sequence to appease the more ‘infantile’ viewers. As seen in the screen shots this powerful beast was able to drift with the best of them, aided by active aerodynamic elements on the body.
The regular ‘news’ section included the Mercedes-Benz AMG SLS Black Series (with 60 BHP more power), a book Tremendous Tractors
(said to be the “male-equivalent” of 50 Shades of Grey). (This author has not read, nor condones the content, of either book.)
They also discussed the 2014 Corvette Stingray, praising its 50/50 weight distribution and 6.2L V8 with sub-4 second 0-60 MPH time. The best thing Jeremy Clarkson had to say was that it makes you “27% more attractive to your sister”. Ah, the British and their twisted sense of humor.
Daman Lewis was the “Star in a Reasonably Priced Car”. The track was very snowy so a new leader board was created just for him as his time was even slower than what would be expected from a wet track.
Next up was James “Captain Slow” May featuring the Bentley Continental GT Speed. Its W12 6.0L twin turbo engine has been upgraded to 616 BHP, channeling a 205 MPH top speed through a new 8-speed automatic transmission. From a standstill it reaches 60 MPH in brisk 4 seconds. A black grille, a rifled exhaust and a dark-tinted aluminum fascia separates it from the ‘lesser’ Continental versions. They reminded us that it’s already been around for 10 years.
Top Gear, being the crazy car nuts that they are, decided to enter the Bentley on a 15-mile stage of the 2012 WRC Rally of Great Britain held in Cardiff, Wales. Weighing in at 2.3 tons (5070 lbs., 2300 kg) only the seats were changed. The ride height and damper setting were set to maximum. The driver, Kris Meeke, labeled the stunt as a “stupid idea”. Expounding on this he noted that the car has the power you need but not the stopping power (especially with the OEM 275/35 20″ tires) and the OEM electric handbrake would be a hindrance on the tight corners. Captain Slow, as anticipated, had problems with his task of reading the rally pace notes at speed. Footage showing the Continental drifting and flying over crests shows that they were pushing hard. Unsurprisingly he improved as the stage progressed and they managed to finish 2 seconds ahead of a purpose-built rally car–a still impressive second-slowest time set on the stage.
Jeremy Clarkson’s segment featured the ‘smallest car in the world’, a feat previously held by the Isle of Man based Peel 50. As his was smaller he christened it the P45. Utilizing the running gear from a quad, the P45 is motivated by a 100cc two-stroke engine. Holding a smartphone in your field of vision while driving provides Satnav navigation. Clarkson’s P45 was also capable of hybrid motivation after a swapping out some ‘bits’ during a 116 minute wrench session. In electric-only mode it was only capable of 1 hour of driving with a 3 MPH top speed. The electric power allowed him to navigate a shopping center, library and theater, though in hybrid-bashing fashion he was forced to use the gas engine in enclosed spaces.
Later Clarkson was shown pitching his ‘invention’ to the stars of Dragon’s Den UK with unsurprising results.
All in all it was an entertaining episode with the high production quality seen in previous seasons and solid entertainment to car enthusiast and the general public. If you’re in the UK you can (legally) stream the episode on the BBC iPlayer. If not you can try a UK Proxy Service. Our screen caps are here: New Top Gear season
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