Tonight saw the conclusion of the second series of Top Gear Australia and if I reflect back to my notes from the same point at Series 1 I have to conclude that forward steps have been taken by the crew at SBS.
The cinematography and post production has taken big steps forward, certainly, although there is still some work remaining to ensure the results reach a consistently high level.
James Morrison, used more sparingly than I expected, has been a solid replacement for Charlie Cox. He can, however, come across a little too smooth. Also, to make the inevitable Top Gear UK comparison, you never get the feeling that he is prepared to lay it on the line and say what he really thinks about a car.
Steve’s enthusiasm can be OTT, but, equally, that is his most enduring feature. He needs to find a balance, and fast! Warren, for me, is still the show’s best performer. That either tells you a fair bit about the show, or you’ll think I have no idea. Or perhaps a bit of both.
Tonight’s episode was a solid 7 out of ten, much like the series overall. Steve’s GTHO piece was good, but lacked punch. James and Warren’s luxo-saloon segment had quite a few holes in its review of the technology on offer, inasmuch as a lot of the technology in the Lexus 600 is also available on the Mercedes-Benz S Class. Not to mention on “lesser” cars such as the Volkswagen Golf. Yet, this didn’t rate a mention in the review. Odd. So too the reason for putting a BMW X6 twin turbo V8 around the test track. Where was the context? Well done to Gyton Grantley, though, for setting a new benchmark time for the celeb segment. It would be nice if the cross promotion for SBS took a more of a backward seat when selecting guests, however.
The ingredients for Top Gear Australia are there, but the viewer is left with a feeling that the show could be better. Perhaps one needs to evaluate the show differently now, but the fact it is a Top Gear franchise makes it hard to do. The consistently excellent UK series ensures the bar remains high. No word yet on the production of Series 3 for the local lads. If it happens, let’s hope further improvements are made. Or, maybe, as hard as it is to do, comparisons to the UK show need to stop.
TOP GEAR AUSTRALIA – SERIES 2, EPISODE 8 (FINAL)
Monday 29 June at 7:30pm
Catch the final episode of Top Gear Australia series two Monday 29 June at 7.30pm. In this episode Steve Pizzati checks out a legendary Aussie muscle car, Warren Brown drives the car that Porsche said they would never build, James Morrison loses himself in super luxury heaven and an underworld character is the Star in a Bog Standard Car.
“Porsche said you’ll see England beat Germany in a World Cup final before you see a diesel roll off the production line at Porsche.”
That was until they built the Porsche Cayenne Diesel. To get a real feel for the car’s performance, Warren calls a race…against an Australian stock horse.
With a “route that has more bends than a contortionist’s Christmas party,” Warren negotiates the winding mountain roads while the horse takes a Man from Snowy River approach.
Then it’s Warren versus James in the battle of the super luxury sedans. James chooses the most expensive Japanese car on sale in Australia, the Lexus LS600. Warren picks the biggest selling super luxury sedan in the country, the Mercedes Benz S-Class.
“How predictable, a big grey Mercedes. How challenging!” said James.
“Coming from you who’s turned up in an automotive equivalent of a digital watch,” said Warren.
“They make trucks and vans don’t they?” said James.
“That is the world’s most expensive Toyota Cressida,” said Warren.
And so it went on.
Steve claims his prize for beating James in a mobility scooter race held back in episode five, the chance to review the iconic Ford Falcon GTHO Phase 3.
After debating if driving the car would take away from the legend that is the GTHO, Steve finally succumbs to the temptation and takes the GTHO to Bathurst.
“See the steering does try to communicate to you but it’s not a language I’ve heard before. It sort of tries to substitute volume for some kind of clarity,” said Steve.
Watch Top Gear Australia on Monday night to see the GTHO in the hands of The Stig and find out if the legend remains intact.
Star on the rise, Gyton Grantley (Underbelly, East West 101 Series 2), is the Star in a Bog Standard Car.