Jeremy Clarkson makes a film about the BMW X6, James May drives a Vauxhall Insignia VXR and Richard Hammond tests a Lexus supercar.
Browse content similar to Episode 7. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
Tonight, the stupidest car in the world.
A Vauxhall you might actually like.
And who has won what in the Top Gear awards ceremony?
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
Hello everybody! Welcome, and a happy new year.
Happy new year to everybody.
Now, like many of you here, I suffer from insomnia. I've tried everything over the years.
I've tried eating lettuce, counting sheep, I even resorted last night
-to James May's new talking book.
That didn't work either. Now, Richard Hammond seems to have
accidentally uncovered what might be a cure.
This is a Lexus.
It's called the RX 450h, and it's everything you'd expect
from what Alan Partridge called the Japanese Mercedes.
It's quiet, it's well-made, it's got a hybrid engine, all very clever.
All things you'd expect from a car company that has won many awards over the years.
Neatest panel gap consistency in the executive saloon sector award.
And the coveted, that's a nice paint finish award. Three years running.
I think you're getting the picture. All Lexuses are beautifully made
and impeccably engineered to achieve unmatched levels of dullness.
So when they announced recently,
"We've made a sports car," oh, how we laughed in the office!
Right up until the moment we saw it.
Yeah... Egg on face.
Foot in mouth. Humble pie, for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
It's called the LFA.
Despite being a Lexus, it doesn't have many Lexussy features.
There's no eat your greens hybrid hiding under the bonnet.
There's no golf clubs hiding in the boot. It's even got a spoiler.
It's the real deal.
And if you're still not convinced that this thing is a supercar,
then let me give you some nerdy-licious numbers.
552 horse power.
Same as the Gallardo. 0 to 60, 3.7 seconds.
Same as a Ferrari 599.
Top speed, 202 mph. That's faster than an Aston Martin DBS.
OK, I think what I need to do here is just find out how that works.
That I like.
There's no waiting for a second. It is just stop, wham, going!
That's really quite a fast car.
Now, this being a Lexus, you might expected to be not just a supercar,
but a supercar full of immense attention to detail.
You'd be right.
4.8 litre V10, and yet somehow the Lexus boffins have managed to make it
only the size of a V8, and as light as a V6.
But that's not the most amazing thing about it.
No, the most amazing thing is the way it revs.
The engine is so lively,
they've had to fit this computer game style virtual rev counter.
Because a normal analogue rev counter can't keep pace
with how quickly this thing gains and loses revs.
And then there's the beautifully nerdy flappy paddle gear change.
The paddle to change up is lighter to use than the paddle to change down.
Just so you know you're going in the right direction.
Amazing stuff from a company that has never built a supercar before.
Which is why they took their sweet time over this one.
Nine years in fact.
At first, the body was made of aluminium.
Then, after years of work, it was deemed too heavy,
so it was scrapped and they began all over again, using carbon fibre.
Lightness was an obsession.
The steering wheel, for example, is also made of carbon fibre.
The pedals are milled from a single piece of aluminium.
And even the complex Lexus stereo has been a on the Atkins.
Geekiness is everywhere here.
These mirrors are specially shaped so they
funnel air into these air intakes.
The designers were so obsessed with good handling,
that even the water bottle for the windscreen washers
is buried somewhere deep down there, next to the petrol tank, to try and
keep as much of the weight as low as possible and inside the wheelbase.
Just like an F1 car.
Don't be fooled by this gap.
That's not shoddy build quality, that's a specially designed intake.
So, it's definitely a Lexus, and it definitely looks like a supercar.
The question is, does it feel like one?
The brakes are ferocious. After caning it around this track, no sign of getting tired.
There's an initial lead from the front end. It's quite a soft feeling.
The thing just wallows in,
and you can give it a boot-full with the rear end.
Get it wrong and it takes absolutely no prisoners. It just spits you out.
Get it right though, and you'll be laughing.
Oh, yes! There you go!
There we are. What a turn-up from the librarian of the car world.
Which brings me to the obvious question...
Would one buy one?
That all depends how much it costs.
£50,000, oh, yes!
£100,000, yeah. £150,000? Well, it's expensive, but it'll be exclusive.
As it happens, the LFA doesn't cost £150,000. No.
The LFA costs £340,000.
That's 130,000 more than a Ferrari 599.
For a car that's no faster than a 599.
And you know what? Even at that price,
Lexus won't make any money on each one they sell.
What this car is, is an engineer's wet dream.
It's a brilliant creation, and praise the Lord it exists.
But price wise, it's on a different planet.
And there's another slight issue.
At the end of the day, and here it is, the actual end of the day,
yes, I'm in the Lexus. Oh, God.
I can never get away from that.
"Will the owner of a £340,000 LEXUS move it?"
That's me. Sorry.
It just doesn't...
It's a Lexus. It just is.
I'm baffled. I'm more baffled than I've ever been.
Hammond, does this car, does it do 1158 mph?
-So, it isn't six times faster than a Nissan GTR?
-But it costs six times more?
-Yeah, it does.
-Well, it's made of exotic materials.
It needs to be! It needs to be made out of myrrh!
-Is this windscreen wiper made out of saffron?
-But there's a lot of carbon fibre.
-Hammond, my bog seat at home is made out of carbon fibre.
It didn't cost 340,000 quid.
Honestly, I just don't understand this car.
Hopefully, our tame racing driver will be able to make sense of it.
that he has to take his shoes off with an Allen key.
And that his new year's resolution is to eat fewer mice.
All we know is, he's called The Stig.
And he's off! It's wet out there, yet again.
Thank you, Copenhagen!
Let's see how the confusing and expensive Lexus copes in these conditions.
Here he comes...
Look at that, through the first corner. Rocking up a bit there.
A little bit of over steer on the way out.
CHAS AND DAVE SONG PLAYS
Stig, still enjoying a cockney knees-up,
which is strange because his knees are on his face.
There's Chicago, a little bit more over steer.
How is it going to cope on a moist hammerhead?
Will that clever weight distribution help?
Running a bit wide, a bit slithery.
You can hear he's having to use the throttle very gingerly as he gets out of there.
Right, now he can really mash his paw down.
This thing sounds like an old F1 car.
Let's hope it's not using know-how from the Toyota team, or it'll be rubbish.
Two corners left, spearing into the second to last one.
Just a flash of corrective lock. Gambon, that's clean.
And across the line.
-Do you have the time?
It did it in 1:22.8, which puts it there.
But critically, I've got to write on there that it's wet, very wet.
-That's the fastest wet lap we've ever had.
-By a long way.
-That next one is Lambo Gallardo.
-The Gallardo, there. Look at that!
Three seconds a lap faster for three times the price!
It's a bargain!
At the beginning of every year, the BBC gives us a big lump of money
and tells us to go away and make 14 programmes.
What we do is we divide that lump of money by 14,
and that gives us the budget for every show.
It's simple! Unfortunately, and I don't
know how this happened, we've made a complete Horlicks of it.
Which meant that when we got to make this show, we had,
and I'm not joking, I'm not making this up, almost no money at all.
-No. And you didn't actually the help with your Lexus film?
-It had a space ship in it.
-It wasn't actually there when I filmed it. Was it?
-So, it was added?
-And that's cheaper than just using
a real space ship. I don't think it is.
That stuff costs a bloody fortune.
We know that now the bill has come in. I'm sorry, I got carried away.
Listen, stop bickering you two.
We now have to do the news and that's impossible, because it's not the week you think it is.
-It's actually December, December 9th.
-It really is. We had the studio booked for today,
and we've had to use it even though we know you're in 2010.
This fly flying around here has actually died by the time you watch this.
The real problem is obviously, between now and when you're watching this, anything could have happened.
Somebody could have invented a car that I don't know, runs on jelly.
We might have declared war with France...
Instead of the news, what we're going to do, we're going to take
a look ahead to some cars that are coming out
-This year. This year.
A car I'm really looking forward to is the new Saab 95, here it is.
-Unless of course Saab went bust in the last two weeks...
-Which is a real possibility!
Seriously, James, really...
-Do this two ways, we will edit it.
A car I'm really looking forward to is the new Saab 95. There it is.
A car I was looking forward to was the new Saab 95.
-That's what it was going to look like.
-Oh, yes. They say,
or said, that it's based on a jet fighter,
or was, but it isn't wasn't.
-It's actually based on a Vauxhall.
You can or could get three engines, maybe you could get three engines.
The best of which was or is a 2.8 litre V6.
That will start at about £25,000.
-It looks great.
-James, why haven't you got a Saab?
-Because they've gone bust.
But if they haven't, then it is a very good question because I do actually quite like a Saab.
They are a little bit alternative and tend to be driven by quite
-That's why he hasn't got one then!
Here's a car I'm looking forward to. 911 Turbo Cabriolet.
What?! Hammond, sorry!
It's twin turbos, seven speed double clutch gearbox, flappy paddles.
I want one.
How old are you?
-And 361 days.
-You know what that means, don't you?
The mid-life crisis is arriving.
Soon you'll be growing your hair, whitening your teeth...
Have you bought a Harley-Davidson recently?
-All right, it's happening! I agree!
I quite like the look of this. This is the Citroen DS3.
That's going to be about £12,000. It's sort of the size of a Mini.
Can I tell you the biggest problem with this car?
When we buy cars - and we all do this whether we like it or not -
we tend to think most of all about what it will be worth
when we come to sell it, which is perfectly reasonable.
The reason why we don't buy orange and lime green cars is you think,
I won't be able to sell it in a couple of years,
I'll get the grey one. I think that's what will happen with this
because you will look at it and go, I really like this, but what if
nobody else does and I won't be able to sell it.
Or what if it's as out of date as Roger Moore's safari suit
-when he was James Bond?
-That's a shame because right now it looks great.
It looks fantastic. I think that's one of the best-looking cars that will be coming out next year.
-No, you got it...
-No, this year.
-This BLEEP year!
-LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE
Let's move, on because this is another car I'm really looking forward to. It's this - 911 GT3RS.
Are you only looking forward to 911s?
At least I'm looking forward to something this year.
You're just saying everything is going to be terrible.
One car has caught my eye.
This is the replacement for the 430.
-What do you mean - hmmm?
I already think the Ferrari F430 is the best car in the world.
It makes my little fizzy... My rude thing...
I guarantee this is going to be a lot better than a 430.
If that's true it could explode.
Does anybody else suddenly feel sick?
Yes. I don't want to see your fizzy rude penis blowing up...
No, no, arrrgh! Let's just move on! I don't want to know!
The fact of the matter is this. This has got a lot more tech than a 430. It's a lot lighter than a 430.
I think the 430 has about 480 horsepower.
This has 562.
The thing I love about it most of all is that it's the first Ferrari
since 1975 that actually looks properly pretty. I'm just
completely bowled over by it.
Actually, we probably won't be allowed to drive Ferraris because
a couple of weeks ago, before Christmas...
-A big meeting in Copenhagen and many, many things were resolved there.
One of them - I'm pretty certain - will be that we have to get out of our cars more often.
And that brings us on to something we have over here.
In this plastic suitcase
is a folding the allegedly assisted bicycle. It's called the Gocycle.
I think you'll find it's called the Go Cycle.
-Not the Gocycle, you idiot.
-That says Gocycle.
Never mind. It costs £1200 and, as you can see, it is...
I thought it was a folding bicycle. It's a bloody bag full of bicycle components.
-Have I got to build it?
-Would you like me to give you a hand with it?
That's the most terrifying thing Jeremy Clarkson can say to anyone.
I wonder if maybe you two should go away.
Good idea, because this is not the only post Copenhagen solution.
-Hammond, what have you got here?
-I have this.
What it is is a skateboard for people who can't be bothered to skateboard.
I'll get it all started up because
it is electrically powered. This device controls your speed.
Why don't you give that to me and I'll control it.
No, that's the most terrifying thing you can possibly say.
-Are you really going to ride that?
-Yes, I am.
Apparently this has a curve system.
Though how something can have regenerative braking
when I can't see how the brakes work I don't know - but it works!
This is much better.
It was designed by a man who wanted something that would combine his love of cross-country skiing
and his love of cycling, and then converted to run on batteries,
by someone who didn't like either of those things.
It is quite pricey, £1,600, around about the same as in 1999 5 Series BMW, but it is quite fast.
Top speed is 15mph.
-Yeah, mine is faster.
-I promise you this is quicker.
-Anyone want to see a race?
Back to here, lap of the studio.
3, 2, 1 - go. I've got wheelspin, a lot of wheelspin.
-Come on, you stupid thing!
-I'm a 40-year-old man taking up skateboarding.
I've got grip, I've got grip!
BLEEP. I've hit the wall!
-James, are you still working on that thing?
-Want to go on this?
-It's great once you've got the hang of it.
-I'm a bit bored with this.
I'm going to go and introduced Jeremy's film on the BMW X6.
Normally he would go and drive it in a sewer or blow it up or something like that.
Unfortunately, Richard Hammond spent most of what we had left
-on his stupid...
I broke the tree a bit... Sorry.
Unfortunately, Richard Hammond, who has just broken our Christmas tree,
spent most of what we had left on his stupid Lexus film.
Our instructions to Jeremy were very specific. Keep it cheap and simple.
Right. One simple film coming up.
The X6 is BMW's attempt
to make a car which looks, and goes, like a coupe,
but has a tall driving position and a bit of off-road ability.
They call it a Sports Activity Vehicle.
It's available with a choice of two petrol engines, both of which
will attract the new £950 showroom tax...
And two diesels which won't.
In the cabin, there is space for four.
But those in the back will be awfully cramped due to the sloping roof line.
Inside it's all typical BMW,
except for this rather clever split opening glove box lid.
It works well here.
But what if you're the wrong way up?
To find out I went to Sydney, which is in Australia.
Obviously everything here is upside-down and yet it still works beautifully. That is impressive.
How does the X6 drive?
In many ways, it's quite annoying.
You can't see out of the back very well and it's got the iDrive system
which can only be operated if you are 14.
I don't know what any of that means.
Satellite navigation. You are coming up to a complicated junction, trying to see which way it is.
You think it's a bit chilly, I'll just ease the temperature up and the screen has gone!
I don't know which way to go because...
Why are you telling me that?!
Then there's the gear lever.
It's on back-to-front cos if you want to change down you push it away.
If you want to change up you pull it towards you.
There's no point resorting to the paddles on the steering wheel as unlike in a normal car,
where one change is down and one change is up, in this they both do the same thing.
And what was the boss of BMW doing when all the clowns in the laptop department
were coming up with this rubbish?
I can only assume she was in a motel with a Swiss spy.
That would be preposterous!
Still, for a big, tall car it's not bad in bends.
Unfortunately, to make it not bad,
they have had to put quite a lot
of beef and granite in the suspension.
In Britain that makes it really quite uncomfortable.
But what about countries where the roads are smooth?
To find out, I went to Spain.
No, it's uncomfortable here as well.
The fact is this - it would be more comfortable if it weren't so tall.
There's a similar problem with the performance.
Yes, the twin-turbo three litre diesel that I've got in this
particular model will get me from 0 - 60 in seven seconds, and that's not bad.
But how much faster and how much more economical would it have been
if the body wasn't so enormous?
You'd imagine that the advantages
of that big, high riding body would become clear in the countryside.
But there's no low-range gearbox,
there's no ride-high control and there's no locking differentials.
It doesn't take long for those omissions to have an effect.
that really says a lot, doesn't it?
The only way round this
is to get out and complete your journey on foot.
That's the handbrake on and in park.
I'm still going down the hill.
Maybe it can handle snow a bit better.
To find out I went to the highest ski resort in the Alps.
So it's too focused on being a road car to be any good off-road.
And it's too focused on being tall and heavy
to be any good on the road either.
And that, I'm afraid, is far from the end of the story.
You see, the X6 was conceived at a time when we all thought the banks knew what they were doing.
But it went on sale moments after we discovered they didn't.
And, I'm sorry, but in a recession a car like this just looks ridiculous.
To explain what I'm on about I went in search of a metaphor.
And, inevitably, that led me to Hong Kong.
You see that skyscraper, the one Batman jumped off?
It's not particularly beautiful, it's not particularly useful.
It was built by a world for a world
that doesn't really exist any more.
Remind you of anything?
To sum up, the Range Rover is a much better all-rounder.
Which is why we use them as camera tracking cars.
The X6 is too cramped, too complicated and, with prices starting at £42,000,
too expensive as well!
Then you're going to need at least £1,500 a year to run it, not including depreciation.
And I think I'd rather spend that sort of money on a Caribbean holiday.
To find out, I went to Barbados.
I think a bit more research.
No. This is definitely better - definitely.
-Thank you very much.
I pride myself on my thoroughness.
-You are an apocalyptic dingleberry.
-You went to the Alps.
-You went to Spain.
-You went to Australia to see if the glove box works.
-You went to Barbados.
-You went to...
-That was just for a stupid metaphor.
-Yes, I did do that.
You're a bigger idiot than Richard Hammond.
-You know what it means?
-What it meant was there was virtually
no money left for my film, which you can see later.
-I promise I didn't do it deliberately.
It's now time to put a star in our reasonably priced car.
Now, because of the budget issues this week, we did have a bit of a problem.
Tom Cruise, for example, was going to charge us £150.
Bonio out of U2 wanted 175 quid to come over here.
So, would you please welcome a former tramp? Seasick Steve.
Sorry about this. How are you? Have a seat. We have an accident every year and there it is.
I should explain to those of you who are thinking and the tramp is who?
This guy is a musical sensation. I mean Brit nominee, when was it, last year? Glastonbury.
-My wife queued up for five days to come and see that show you did.
You have become this amazing sensation.
The instruments you play aren't exactly conventional instruments.
I mean, your guitar, for example.
I don't play the guitar but I know they have six strings. Yours doesn't.
I've got some that have got one string but that's just a plank of wood with a string nailed on it.
That's called a diddlybo.
I've got this other guitar that's got three strings that I got from a friend of mine in Mississippi.
He found it at a junk store.
I brought it home and my wife looked at that guitar and goes, "That's going to make you famous."
And it has! Because, one day, a little known broadcasting organisation called the BBC
called up and said, "Could you come on the Jools Holland Show?"
I didn't even know what Jools Holland was.
Just so that people can understand the noise that Steve can make out of
this three-string guitar, just have a listen to this.
# The dog house Dog house
# Sing the dog house
# Sing the dog house
# Sing the dog house... #
I had to just do that so you could just hear that this... Where does that voice come from?
Obviously your mouth.
So your first hit album, I should say, it was called
I Started Out With Nothing And I've Still Got Most Of It Left.
-Which I think is the best album title literally of all time.
-The new one's called...?
-A Man From Another Time.
Again, pretty apt. We're going to get on to this name - Seasick Steve.
Forgive me for asking. You must have been asked a million times but why?
I just get sick on boats.
Like real sick. I don't go out on the boats too much.
I went on a ferry boat from Norway to Denmark and threw up all night long.
The next morning, someone thought it was funny. You're Seasick Steve!
-And that stuck?
-Yeah, sort of.
You may be Seasick Steve but you can't be Carsick Steve because what you probably don't realise,
we haven't got to this bit, we've got a serious car man here.
-How many cars have you owned over the years?
-I try to count. I know it's in the hundreds.
In America, cars are real cheap.
You can buy a late '30s, early '40s car for 50 bucks.
So I'd buy it for 50 and drive it for two or three weeks until it died
and leave it on the end of the road and then go and get another one.
They were all over.
What was the favourite from this list of hundreds?
My favourite truly is a car I have right now which I've had for a while.
It's a '51 Chevy station wagon.
-It's just a complete beat-up car but it runs good.
-Where is that now?
-It's actually over here. I've got it over here now.
-You keep it in the UK?
-Yeah, I've got it over here.
-I've got that and a tractor.
-You've got to do a bit of farming then?
I don't care about the farming part but I like ploughing.
So, presumably, I was listening to a comedian on the radio the other
day talking about the importance and reliability of getting to gigs.
-You don't use the Chevy. Because presumably it's, "I'm sorry,
"Seasick Steve can't appear tonight because his Chevy's broken down."
I've got one of those big Mercedes vans, like a big white one.
It's got like a wood burning stove and fishing gear.
It's got like a log cabin inside. It's real nice.
There's all these lines of those big tour buses and then my old beat-up van in the middle.
Seasick Steve's arrived.
They saw me coming a long way away.
-So, you've not called the eco-bug then?
It was a thing in Copenhagen.
-You've got to have a Toyota Prius now - a hybrid.
My boy told me I could drive my '51 Chevy the rest of my life,
and all the life I've had before,
and not make as much pollution as one of them new cars costs to make.
-I'll stick with the '51 Chevy, thank you.
-Yes, good man.
That's the ticket.
So, OK, the car man.
You came down here and drove possibly the most modern car you've ever driven then.
-My biggest problem is the shifter's on the wrong side.
I kept rolling the window down.
But it is. I have to say that Lacetti is getting a bit knackered now.
-I didn't help at all. I apologise.
-No, we're thinking of getting a new car for the next series.
You would be the last person ever to go on the board.
I'm probably be the last person on the board, too.
-Like a double whammy!
-Who'd like to see Seasick's lap?
-Let's have a look how it went.
I'm embarrassed now.
Now, I'm trying to remember all the things Stig told me.
I can hardly remember...
What day is it actually?
-I've no idea.
-That is a beard in a car and that is tidy line cutting the corner.
That's OK. A bit damp.
A lot of under steer there.
You can make a lot of noise but you ain't going very fast when you make the noise.
That's true. We've got more understeer here. Yes.
Quite a lot through there. That's slowing you down a bit.
The radio came on.
I don't want to hear no radio.
I'm busy racing, dude.
Dipping nicely into Hammerhead.
This looks like a good line. Yes, looking very tidy on the way in.
And on the way out?
-This is embarrassing.
-No, it isn't. This gear change was.
That's the worst.
This is the most fun I've probably ever had in my whole life and that's probably kind of pathetic.
Let's have a look through here. Let's see if you've got to any gentleman's...
Fast - that is quick.
Coming into the second to last corner.
Don't go on the grass, it's too wet.
-You're on the grass a bit there.
-Go, go, go!
-And around Gander.
A little bit slow on that one.
Across the line, everybody.
-Very well done! Very well done.
You care, don't you?
-I really care. I know I let down the side but you got to give it a shot.
-You gave it a shot.
I tried to get points for being a little older but they didn't go for it.
I'd love to cheat here and give you a fast time but unfortunately it was a slow one.
-I know that.
-It wasn't a slow one. What it was was, ready?
One minute and, bearing in mind it was moist, 51.8.
Which means you go there.
-You're faster than Tom Jones.
-That's enough. I'll take that.
That's good enough for me.
And he was in the dry. You're faster than Helen Mirren...
Don't rub it in no more.
That's kind of it. Steve, this has been an absolute joy.
A 100% pleasure for me. 100%.
-Ladies and gentlemen, Seasick Steve.
-Thank you very much.
Thank you so much. Great music.
Right. It is now time for me to present my film.
And, for reasons that I am sure by now are abundantly clear,
it's about a medium-sized Vauxhall and a nice old lady.
Right, here we go. A lengthy yet hopefully interesting
and value-for-money film about a Vauxhall.
If you're a proper car bore, you will know that anything wearing the VXR badge,
I have one here on the steering wheel,
is part of Vauxhall's Turbo Nutter ASBO range.
And so it turns out.
The engine, for example, is a turbo-charged 2.8 litre V6.
Which produces a meaty 321 horse power.
That's a few horse power short of our old track favourite, the VXR8,
but, nevertheless, this executive-style car is good for 60 in under 6 seconds.
If it didn't have the hand of nannying,
an electronic speed limiter, it would do 170 miles an hour.
It does shift, this thing.
And the performance modifications don't stop with the engine.
321 horse power is asking a lot of front-wheel drive.
This version has four-wheel drive
to keep everything nice and calm and civilised and under control.
It also has a very clever front suspension,
very similar to the one used on the Focus RS,
which, as we know, is very good.
Also, the suspension has been lowered by 10mm and you can choose from different driver settings.
At the moment I'm in normal mode, which is the one I like,
but if I press this button, "sport" - now the suspension is firmed up a little bit.
Can I feel that? Yes.
But lots of cars have a sport button.
The insignia, however, has another one that goes up to 11.
This one which is marked "VXR".
Press that and the suspension gets even harder.
The throttle response is sharpened up a bit but, most importantly, the instruments become red!
I mean, that's just fantastic.
It's a fire-breathing monster with a spine of iron.
And the prize for all this VXR-ishness?
Just over £30,000, which, in Top Gear maths,
where we tend to round things up a bit, makes it actually pretty good value.
Because the equivalent Audi S4 would be nearly £5,000 more.
And that's all you really need to know about it.
But, obviously, I have to keep going.
So I will, by explaining that the insignia VXR is surprisingly restrained,
both to look at and to sit in.
It is, therefore, the first de-chavved VXR.
The first fast Vauxhall that would know which way round a baseball cap goes.
This is actually a very civilised car. It's very quiet.
The ride is very good and yet, without the VXR button on, it still goes like stink.
It's also very spacious and it has a big boot - and much more equipment than a pricier Audi.
And now I really have run out of things to say.
But rather than go back to the studio,
I'm going to introduce you to someone I've always wanted to meet.
A lady called Margaret Calvert.
And here she is. Hello, Margaret.
You may never have heard of Margaret but, believe me,
if you are a motorist in Britain, she's one of the most important people in your life.
If it hadn't been for Margaret and her mates,
I would now be going the wrong way or possibly even having a terrible crash.
You see, Margaret, along with her colleague Jock Kinneir,
is responsible for creating something special that we take for granted every single day.
The road signs of Britain.
I think you've perhaps made me more important than I really am.
Oh, I doubt it.
Margaret's work began in the 1950s, when car ownership was booming
and the Government, alarmed at the clogged-up roads, decided to build the first motorways.
However, existing road signs were totally inadequate for the new, high-speed highways.
-No one designed motorway signs before because we hadn't had a motorway.
And the whole job of making that system of signs clear to the car,
-which was still a new thing for most people...
-The driver, yes.
And at speeds that were still new...
That all fell to a man and his former student from an art college.
-They gave you the whole job.
We were both on a crash-course learning curve
to come to grips with designing road signs.
It wasn't a fashion thing. We were designing for permanence.
We were designing for something that wouldn't look dated in 5 or 10 years' time.
Margaret explained how the colour system of our road signs
was carefully designed to make words and numbers as clear as possible
at the high speeds motorway-borne cars could then achieve.
And she and Jock horrified the signposting establishment
by using upper and lowercase letters,
instead of the accepted block capitals.
And that's to do with word recognition.
You read a shape, whereas if it's all in capitals, it takes you longer to read.
So you don't have to read it in upper and lower. You see the shape and you know what it says.
Exactly that. So your brain fills in, you know, the middle bits.
Most people wouldn't realise how involved this is. They'd think it's just lettering you stick on a sign.
-And it still works. It's basically the same system.
Margaret's work didn't stop at motorway signs
because she and Jock then went on to design just about every other road sign you see in the Highway Code.
-So you designed a new type-face...
-..Which became known as Transport.
-And then you had to design the actual pictures for your warning signs.
-That's you, isn't it?
-That was actually a very difficult one to do.
The important thing was to make it look like an action.
That it would really alert you to the possibility of two children walking across the road,
so hopefully you would try to save lives by getting that right.
The previous sign had a grammar-school boy
with a satchel and the girl behind him.
And they weren't holding hands or anything like that.
And I just thought that this is a little bit more caring
and so I switched it round.
I based that, actually, on me.
I based it on what I wore as a child.
-So is that actually you?
-It is, actually, yes.
At this point, I was starting to run out of intelligent questions.
What do you make of the car? Because I can't quite make my mind up but...
-They always have faces, don't they?
And I think some kind of look very shark-like, some look very aggressive.
It looks like a car that's been designed by a committee.
And then I ran out of intelligent things to say.
But would you agree with me that it would look a bit sexier in glasses?
That's a very interesting... I think you're quite unusual.
Back on the road, we inevitably came across one of her most commonly-used signs.
The story I read about you was that you did that sign
and then the joke emerged it was a man struggling with an umbrella and that joke's been around for years.
And that annoyed you and you wished you'd done it slightly differently?
Well, I would have put a shoulder on it, just. And I'd... Huh?
Oh, what, you want me to draw it on?
-I'm not doing it.
-I'll do it.
-But I want you to direct me.
Right, think of drawing a spade.
As if you're drawing a spade, yeah?
What do you think? Well, I think from here,
it's sort of, it's wrong.
Not only did she not like my drawing, she didn't find my gear changes very good either.
-That was a bit of a...
-Yes, sorry, that wasn't very good, was it?
-No, that wasn't a good gear.
-Let's try that again.
-Yeah, do that.
-I was trying to be clever.
Skipping the cogs, so we're doubling down into second.
Oh, right, yes. Even then, it was a little bit juddery. Now...
-Yeah, a bit...
-Is that better?
-A bit better. Could be smoother.
I decided to speed up,
and that didn't work either.
Oh my gosh!
Margaret didn't like this sort of driving.
And as we headed for home, plainly, she decided to get her own back.
-Big road sign.
-It is nice to think that your legacy is spread all over the country.
-Well, it is a legacy.
I suppose. And that's why I end up sitting next to people like you.
Talking about road signs.
-Did you put my seat heater on for a joke?
-No, I didn't. Is it on?
Well done, mate. Good work. Well done.
I have to say, when Margaret came on, it got better, OK? The thing is though, I have a question.
She really designed all of the road signs of Britain? Well, her and, what was it, four others?
Four or five people in total, yes.
Because I was thinking, if they decided to change all the road signs now,
how many people would this government employ?
They'd want 5,000 people just to decide what the little girl on the school sign looked like.
Oh yes, should she have a burka, a turban?
-And then that man in the "men at work" sign is clearly a man...
-And that's not right.
-They'd rectify that.
In the modern "men at work" sign there wouldn't be a man, just be a pile of unused gravel.
Just a queue of cars stopped for no reason.
-It's OK, we've filled the time now.
-Er, so, let's move on
to the Top Gear award ceremony!
-Oh, yes. This is the biggie.
-It's a big day.
-It is a biggie.
-A big day in the calendar.
A big day for us all.
-What are you doing?
It's an award ceremony, I'm wearing a gold lame jacket. It's appropriate.
It's quite sudden, isn't it?
Erm, anyway. First award is Injury of the Year.
And the nominations are - Richard in our Headhammer Thrust i-Eagle, Geoff.
We're going to crash.
Ow, my chest!
Jeremy making paint-ball art.
And James on a gangplank in Bolivia.
-It's like literally being with Livingstone...
-It was a good one. A good moment there, mate.
-Both of us did cough blood.
I have the winner here. Injury of the Year award and the winner is...
It's actually none of those.
Now, I should say before I announce this,
that when we film a car on Top Gear, there is always a light, OK, in the top corner of the windscreen.
Now, we've been doing this show for years, so it would be impossible to forget
that that light is there and that it's very sharp, unless, of course, you were a colossal anus.
-East Midlands airport.
-You might have to...
What have you done?
-It really hurts. Agh!
Well done, chaps.
Gosh. It's an honour. It is an honour.
Now, as always, we present an award
to the person who's driven around our track fastest of all in the course of the year.
The fastest man around the Top Gear track, the fastest celebrity in the reasonably-priced car,
from AC/DC, it's Brian Johnson!
Sadly, Brian is in Florida at the moment
and none of us could be bothered to go over there and give him his award.
But we did find a film crew who very kindly volunteered to do it for us.
Thanks very much for this wonderful honour and for this fabulous trophy.
You must have spent a fortune on this!
My name's Brian, not "Brain".
And that's an ice hockey player on top of there, look. Never mind.
This'll do me for now.
So have a great time at Christmas and I'll see you soon, guys.
Thanks, everybody. Bye-bye.
-Well, I'm sorry.
-That's the worst thing we've ever done.
-It was cheap. It was cheap.
And now it's time to get serious, because it's time for our Car of the Year award, OK.
This, of course, is an extremely coveted award.
Manufacturers all over the world will be watching with bated breath.
OK, the nominations are the new Volkswagen Polo.
It's already won the slightly less coveted European Car of the Year award.
And the Kia Ceed, for its pleasing equipment levels and ground-breaking seven-year comprehensive warranty.
And the Suzuki Alto, for its willing engine and its attractive price tag of just £7,495.
And the winner for being much, much better than all of those,
is the Lamborghini Gallardo Balboni!
-What a winner.
That's as it should be.
We were impressed with its stripe, it's V10 engine,
its rear-wheel drive, the savagery of its exhaust,
and its stripe.
No, seriously, we think the Polo is tremendous, OK?
Beautifully made and so on.
And that's OK if you're an accountant, but we're not.
What we look for in a car is, and I'm loathe to use the word, it's an X factor.
Something you can't really put your finger on.
And that's what we look for.
Yes. And the Lamborghini has something you can put your finger on - a stripe.
We're moving on. There's a lot of people tune in for this moment every year.
Which is clever because we've never done it before.
It's the Forklift Truck Driver of the Year award.
The nominations are...
Here he is, look. You're all right, back up, you're all right. Oh, no. Wait a minute, hang on. Ooh!
But the winner without a question or shadow of doubt is this chap.
Yep, back up, careful, careful...
Ooh, bit quick. No, ooh, that's not gone well.
Wow! I mean...
-Credit where it's due. A fine effort.
Well, it's appropriate we should now move on to the Golden Cock award.
This of course, is awarded... Here it is, Richard demonstrating for you now.
It's awarded to the member of the Top Gear team who has,
in the course of making the programme over the year,
been a complete clattering buttock.
Now, there were several cases behind the scenes this year that we had to consider.
There was the time when James May, whilst following the Range Rover camera car,
somehow managed to lose sight of it for a moment
and then start following an entirely different Range Rover.
And he failed to notice for an hour
that it didn't have a camera crew in it and was in fact nothing to do with Top Gear at all.
Just to give you an idea of the degree of James's idiocy there,
here's a picture of a normal Range Rover. There it is, look.
And now here's a picture of one of our filming Range Rovers.
There is a giveaway there.
But in the end, there really could only be one winner.
You may remember the steam train race we had earlier on in the year.
Well, four minutes before the train was due to leave, that's four minutes before the race was due to begin,
we were presented with a Jaguar XK with the keys in the ignition, engine running...
and the doors locked.
So, the Golden Cock has to go to that man who was trusted to deliver that priceless car on that crucial day,
and left it with us in that condition.
And that man was...
-Where is he?
Stig, the Golden Cock. Yes.
-Oh, it's great.
I can tell. I should point out, Stig, that is a rolling award.
We have to have it back now to give it to next year's winner.
So if I can have that... Ah!
No, you have to give it back so it sits in our trophy cupboard.
Stig, give me the Golden Cock. Just... Stig, give me the Gol... Give me the Gol... I need...
Stig, I need the, give me the Gol...
-No, not that.
-Stig, give me the Golden Cock. Stig, give me the Cock.
We've lost both Cocks.
Have you got his Cock?
-Some of it. Yes. It's amazing.
-You're joking, is that all we have left of the Golden...
Oh, mate, it's weird. He fights like a choirboy
but you can hear his jaws just snapping shut in his helmet all the time. It's terrifying.
I've got some of it back anyway.
Well, well done, Hammond. Anyway, that was the Golden Cock.
-What I'm doing is I'm blathering.
-How short can you make an hour-long programme?
-I don't know.
OK, seriously, honestly, because James's film was so short,
-we do actually have time for one more award.
-Yes, we do.
And since this is 2010, we can give an award to the car of the decade.
Now we are taking this quite seriously. There are a lot of worthy contenders.
And we considered everything from the Rolls-Royce Phantom to the new Mini.
Another car that makes our list of those being considered, Pagani for the Zonda.
Yeah, we also considered, did we not, the Range Rover TDV8,
simply for being all the car you could ever possibly need.
And then the light bulb went on,
because we realised there could actually only be one car
of what the Daily Mail will undoubtedly call "the noughties".
It was a car that just rewrote the rule book, really.
An amazing piece of engineering. A genuine Concorde moment.
So, ladies and gentlemen, the Top Gear car of the decade
is the Bugatti Veyron.
Keep going, keep going.
Yes. More applause. More than that.
Yeah! What about that?
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
We're there! We've made it to the end of the hour. We've done it.
Thank you so much for watching.
We'll see you again later in the year. Have a happy new year.
Take care, everyone. Good night.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]
Jeremy Clarkson makes a film about the BMW X6 and ends up conducting one of the most expensive road tests in Top Gear history. James May drives a Vauxhall Insignia VXR, accompanied by Margaret Calvert, the designer of Britain's road signs, and Richard Hammond tests the £340,000 Lexus supercar on the Top Gear track.
The boys then try out the latest in electric personal transport in the studio, and the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car is blues musician Seasick Steve.