Top Gear

Top Gear enters Season 15 with “decade’s greatest” title

Top Gear - Bolivia special

UPDATE 7 June: The boys will be back on UK screens from 27 June.

Top Gear, fresh off the back of its fourteenth season, has just been named the “Greatest TV Show of the Noughties”. This news is the culmination of a poll run by Channel 4 in the UK, the results of which will air on British television screens next week.

Richard Hammond, one of Top Gear‘s star trio, said, “I could never say what the reason is for Top Gear doing so well since we started it, but I think there’s always a sense that we’d still be doing it even if the cameras weren’t here and that makes it real.”

Of course, BBC2 first broadcast the original format of Top Gear back in the late 1970s. However, while it enjoyed a stellar run of some 24 years, at the start of the 2000s the show was cancelled. This paved the way for the emergence of Fifth Gear on Channel Five. But it wasn’t long until the BBC relaunched Top Gear with the current format running since 2002.

Series 14 has attracted some criticism and the program’s long time Executive Producer, Andy Wilman, felt the need defend the show’s direction posting comments on the Top Gear website.

Going into Series 15, then, Top Gear faces its toughest test in some time. Will the baggage of the decade’s greatest title add to the burden of recent criticism, or will it spur the production team on to bigger and better things? While I do think Top Gear will finish before it makes a twentieth season, I do expect that Season 15 will rectify some of the wrongs committed in recent series. Wilman and his trusty trio of Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May are no mugs, they will put things right.

We shall find out later this year when Season 15 goes to air. If it wasn’t for the 2010 FIFA World Cup I would nominate 19 June as the premiere date, however, the football may mean an early start in May with a hiatus before recommencing in July. This is what BBC did with Season 8 so as to avoid clashing with Germany 2006.

[Source: The Press Association]

Top Gear

I don’t know much about art, but I know what I like

Top Gear 14x05

Internet criticism has led to Top Gear‘s Executive Producer, Andy Wilman, to write an article defending the show. In line with the old adage about criticising art it would seem many an internet fan doesn’t know much about producing a television show, but they know what they like. And, according the the masses, they don’t like Season 14 of Top Gear which is more than half way through its current run.

Wilman admits that the crew has been up against it this series, “Personally I’ll be glad to see the back of it. We’ve done some good stuff this series, but we were too rushed and too knackered to get everything right.”

He also understands that they may have pigeon-holed the three presenters too tightly, “I do believe we’ve now got the presenters playing to their TV cartoon characters a bit too much – Jezza the walking nuclear bomb, Richard the daft Norman Wisdom, and James the bumbling professor.”

But Wilman also explains that the show’s philosophy is to never die wondering if a new idea will work, “it is just us pushing in a different direction, because we’re still very much obsessed, as a team, about attempting new things with cars on TV.”

At the end of Season 13 there was much talk that it marked the end of the road for Top Gear. While that turned out to be more internet scuttlebutt, Wilman does reveal the end of the show will happen sooner, rather than later, “It’s fair to say this incarnation of Top Gear is nearer the end than the beginning, and our job is to land this plane with its dignity still intact.”

If you’re a fan of the show and haven’t already seen Wilman’s blog, take the time to follow the link below, it’s a very worthwhile read.

[Source: TopGear]

Fifth Gear Volkswagen

Fifth Gear – Series 14, Episode 7

This episode started with a proper old skool hot hatch, the iconic Volkswagen Mk2 Golf GTI. I’ve been fortunate to see a great example of these up close and they really are bloody good cars. Take a well loved Mk2 GTI to a tight mountain pass and it will keep any current hot hatch very honest indeed. Jonny was out to see what sort of improvements he could make at his local tuning shop. After Tiff set a benchmark time, Jonny started the mods. They started with the easy stuff like new suspension and exhaust, but also undertook a complete engine rebuild that was hoped to give a very tidy 50hp increase. The first part of the clip is shown above, check the second part to see how well the mods work at the end of this article.

Read on to see what else was in store for this episode…

Fifth Gear

Fifth Gear – Series 14, Episode 4

Apologies for the late update to this week’s show. Jason Plato—AUSmotive’s preferred Fifth Gear presenter—started the show comparing the JDM Honda Civic Mugen RR v the UK spec 2000 GT. The Japanese Civic was the quickest around their test track, and by some margin, plus it sounds bloody good, too.

I didn’t want to mention Tim Shaw this week, but given he covered the revised CO2 taxes UK residents will be paying shortly, I thought it would be worth raising, given our federal government’s recent issues with its proposed Luxury Car Tax increases. I’m guessing it won’t be long until we’re paying taxes based on emissions here in Australia too. They highlighted a Volkswagen Golf 1.6 and a Citroen C4 XS, the French car expels 13 grams less in CO2 emissions, but when the new tax laws are introduced, the Citroen will cost almost AU$200 less to register. I daren’t mention the funky and frugal MINI John Cooper Works again (6.9l/100km, 165 g/km), but, well I just did.

Fifth Gear

Fifth Gear – Series 14, Episode 3

Fifth Gear - Series 14, Episode 3

A much better showing from the lads at Fifth Gear this week. The shootout saw Jason Plato pit der neue Passat R36 Estate against der neue Audi A4 3.0TDI Estate. TheR36 is Volkswagen’s most powerful and quickest production car to date, but it didn’t have it all its own way against the A4 oil burner. More VAG content when VBH compared a Golf GT TDI against a Kia PRO-cee’d diesel. She reckons the Kia is getting better. While I hate to admit it doesn’t actually look too bad, I’ll take her word for it otherwise. Jonny went to the Ultimate Street Car show, or Summer Nats for chavs. He claimed there was some art and talent there, and to be fair, he’s probably right. But there’s also a crap load of wasted money, including a Civic Type R that has had £90K (AU$193K) thrown at it. Tiff drove around with Jarno Trulli in a Prius. It’s okay, they fell asleep too. Tim Shaw simply has to lose the stupid jumpers and poxy jeans, although, that would leave him with precisely no personality. A point he proved again while trying to match manufacturer’s performance claims in a MINI Cooper S, Mazda MX-5 and an Ariel Atom. Tom drove around in a new Honda Accord Jap, oops, I mean Euro. Tiff closed out the show being a prat against Australia’s own Jason Crump on a speedway track. Predictable results and a whining Tiff followed. Passable.

Fifth Gear

Fifth Gear – Series 14, Episode 2

Fifth Gear - Series 14, Episode 2 - Porsche 911 GT2

So the next episode of Fifth Gear has been and gone and if you can’t wait for it to air on Foxtel’s Lifestyle Channel, here’s a quick recap. Tiff brings back the shoot-out, starting with Mazda’s revised RX-8 up against Nissan’s 350Z. Whoa, that beeping rev limiter on the RX-8 is just daft. Just as well the Zed is quicker, then. Tim Shaw—epic fail. ‘Nuff said. Vicki spent a day with Lewis Hamilton to see if she could find someone who loves Lewis more than James Allan. Jonny flashed £3K around to see what would be the best used motor on offer. He started with an E34 BMW M5, then toyed a Ford SportKa before deciding to keep half his money and buy a first gen Mazda MX-5. Plato fangs about in a new Porsche 911 GT2. Very tidy. Tom is let out in a Benz SL63 AMG and reckons the old one was better. The show ends with a Fifth Gear crash test. They used a Peugeot 306 Cabrio …  it was ugly! The crash results, not the car.

Fifth Gear

Fifth Gear – Series 14, Episode 1

Fifth Gear - Series 14, Episode 1 - Rinspeed Squba

Fifth Gear is back on UK screens and Episode 1 of Series 14 saw the debut of a new presenter, Tim Shaw. No, not the Demtel man, but someone possibly as, erm, loveable. We also saw Snooker legend and resident bad boy Ronnie O’Sullivan get some advice on how to blow his Crucible winnings. He took his pick from a Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG, a BMW M3 Convertible and a Mitsubishi Evo X. Speaking of the Evo, Jason and Tiff put the Mitsubishi Evo X and the new-ish Subaru Impreza WRX STi to the test to determine which was the best track day weapon. Jonny showed that scrap metal is not always worth more than the sum of its parts. Tom tried to see if the Ford Kuga was a stick in the mud, and, well, it was, even if he reckons it’s otherwise okay. Cast your mind back the the slick Roger Moore James Bond era and you’ll see exactly where Rinspeed’s inspiration for the sQuba came from (pictured above).

See you next week.