Top Gear (2002) s23e05 Episode Script

The Zenos E10S

1 'Tonight, I audition for Countryfile.
' Sorry to interrupt, very nice sheep.
'Matt considers his Christmas list.
' I feel like I need a captain's hat.
Maybe a cannon.
'And Harris has an Einstein moment.
' There we go.
Hello and welcome to Top Gear! Yes, hello! Now, usually when you hear the term "lightweight", you think of bars and drink and vomit.
Thank you! But on this show, that term refers to a very small special group of British car enthusiasts.
These are the great British super lightweights.
They're raucous, they're uncomfortable, and, most of all, they're totally impractical.
Not that any of that really matters because the only thing that does is how exciting they are to drive.
And the fast-track route to the most thrills per gallon is as little lard as possible, with as much oomph as your piggy bank will stretch to.
On the race track, these super lightweights are an absolute riot.
They're pure and honest, modest and humble.
However, back in the real world, their lack of creature comforts means they can be a bit of a physical challenge.
So, how does the new kid on the block compare? It's time to meet the Zenos E10.
It's designed and built in Britain by two ex-Lotus and Caterham guys, who still promise a double helping of fun without the side order of scary.
There are three versions of the E10.
The entry level for 25 grand, the top of the range R, and this, the S, which boasts a two litre turbo engine from Ford's hot hatch department.
30 grand will buy you 250 brake horsepower, 145mph and 0-60 in about four seconds.
And all this in something that looks like Darth Vader's weekend wheels.
The E10S is blessed with the gear box, engine and other mechanical hardware from the Ford Focus ST, which is not a slow car.
But stick all of its guts in a four-wheeled bobsleigh Superleggera and this is what's going to happen.
If Mo Farah were a car, he may well be a Zenos.
Supreme performance with a bare minimum of skin and bone to slow him down.
The E10S weighs a mere 725kg, about half the weight of the Ford Focus, partly because Zenos have done away with all those heavy non-essentials like windows.
Or a boot.
Or a roof.
But also because it's built of something called carbon fibre reinforced plastic, which is incredibly light and incredibly strong, too.
Now, it could be said the E10S's panels look a bit flimsy and, frankly, they are, but it's all part of that grand plan.
Think about these panels as more sacrificial than cheap.
Zenos have gone all Lego on us, so if you run out of talent on a track day, it's so much easier to replace a bit than a lot.
Whoaaaa! Because the rest of the car is so solid and so light, it's the perfect platform for stability.
Enables the car to remain PLANTED .
.
almost all of the time! Wooohooo, woohooo! The way this car's set up, it really will inspire the inner Hamilton in all of us.
The steering is so tight and bright.
Marvellous, joyous! Heavenly! I love the whooshing and the hissing and the oozing and the urging and the screaming and the "Come on, Christopher! Faster, my son.
" Here we go again! The Zenos, then, gives you all the thrills you want from a proper British super lightweight, but without feeling the need to have to beat you up.
This car really doesn't want to fight you.
It wants to be your friend.
I mean, it has its downsides -- the gear throw's a bit long, the brakes you've got to really sort of stand on at first, till you get used to them.
But, compared to most super lightweights, it's like a bloomin' Rolls-Royce Corniche.
When developing their mini masterpiece, Zenos invited potential customers to drive the prototypes and give their feedback.
So this car is more of what super lightweight fans want, rather than what a manufacturer thinks they should get.
But all those Ford bits means it's got parts supply sorted, reliability should be boringly excellent, fixing it should be easy and it's safe and it's noisy.
But, most important of all, it's still respectfully impractical.
Which it has to be because it's a super lightweight and that's the law! Wow! I love it.
That looked fun.
That looked great, was it fun? No.
Yes.
What I meant No, I meant yes.
Yes, no.
It is a lot of fun, but the thing about cars like this is, they are painful.
They hurt.
They hurt your back, they hurt your arms, they hurt your wrists.
They really hurt your bum, and some people have been known to ache for the rest of their lives after driving a super lightweight for just five minutes.
Yeah, but the people who love these cars, the people who own these cars, they worship them, right? They do, they do, er, because they're a bit mad! Ah.
I salute them, but I wouldn't want to live next door to one.
- That's all I'm saying, OK? - OK.
All right.
Fair enough.
OK -- so to see how fast a "Zeenos" goes around Zenos.
To see how fast a Zenos goes around our test track .
.
it's time to hand it over to our tame racing driver.
Some say that on a first date, he always clips the apex .
.
and that he's touched every one of the Untouchables.
All we know is, he's called THE STIG! So, the Zenos E10S, then, a classically British lightweight in classically British conditions today Into the first corner, the Zenos looking locked down as you like.
The Stig, crafty, happening, happening, crafty.
Chicago! Listen to the turbo engine suck and blow, hiss, pop, bang.
Very neutral, through Hammerhead.
Not a sniff of a slide there, immaculate.
Happening crafty, crafty happening, the Zenos! For the honour of Norfolk! Bouncing past the tyre wall, sacrificial panels unsacrificed.
Bit of a squirm as Stig stomps on the brakes.
Finally, through Gambon, little skid on the exit and across the line! So .
.
before I post this time up on the Power Lap Time Board, we're looking at other lightweights, we've got the Caterham 620R, 1.
22.
3, and then we go up the board, the BAC Mono, the king or queen of the lightweights, 1.
14.
3, and the Zenos E10S, on a mildly moist and damp day, has come in at 1.
25.
1, which is just about there.
It's OK.
That's OK.
While Chris was dealing with the pain of the Zenos, I was dealing with the pain of the new Rolls-Royce.
The Rolls-Royce Dawn.
17 feet and £250,000 of very British convertible.
And yes, 17 foot long, £250,000 convertibles can sometimes -- sometimes -- run the risk of being a bit attention-seeking.
Shouty.
Case in point -- way, way out in front, a twin turbo 6.
6 litre V12 engine will, at your request, serve up 563 horsepower.
It'll proceed from a standstill to 60mph in under five seconds.
Which is very invigorating.
But the rest of the messy physics of driving are kept well and truly below deck.
Generally, when you buy the convertible version of an expensive car with a large engine and many cylinders, it's so you can hear that large engine with many cylinders.
But the Dawn is far too diplomatic for anything so uncouth as engine noise.
Huh! And it's far too polite to concern you with nonsense like feedback.
The steering tells you pretty much nothing about what's going on with the tyres.
Just occasionally you get the merest hint through the chassis that you may have run over something fairly significant.
Like a buffalo.
And that's a good thing.
If you want to feel every inch of the tarmac through your fingertips, buy a Lotus.
And if it's all still a bit intrusive, you can always deploy the roof.
You could hear a cricket fart in here.
Oop! Even though the Dawn will do 155mph if called upon, you get the sense .
.
it would prefer to call ahead and let them know you'll be late.
It's a car that'll go as fast as you'll ever need, but makes you want to take your time.
Delve beneath its bold, sleek lines and you're met with a level of detail that is second to none.
The doors open the wrong way because Well, it seems like there's no practical reason other than the fact that it's really cool, but it makes it easier to access this.
Your umbrella.
And then when you're done with your umbrella, the Dawn circulates warm air around its little scabbard to dry it off.
Sweet! And if you think that's a bit over the top, how about this little gem from the promotional literature? "The rear passengers do not merely get out of a Rolls-Royce Dawn, "but rather stand and disembark as if from a motor launch "onto a glamorous private jetty.
" Let's give it a go.
I can almost smell the ocean.
And then there's the Dawn's most imposing feature.
Oh, that's tight.
Oh, wow! 'And that's Well, it's HUGE.
' Sorry, buddy.
Aah! And that leads to the small matter of parking it.
Ooh, that's tight.
Oop, let me try that again.
She's definitely big.
Oh, I'm on the kerb.
One more crack at that.
Oop! Ooh OK, be careful now.
We don't want to scuff the wheels.
They're about £2,000 a pop.
Jeez! At least nobody saw that.
'Not what you'd call "subtle", then.
' But get the Dawn out on the wide -- very wide -- open road and it really starts to get under your skin.
You don't drive this thing, you captain it, as you would a cruise liner.
I feel like I need a captain's hat.
Maybe a cannon.
Delusions of grandeur? Perhaps.
But that's what the Dawn does to you.
OK, maybe it IS a bit attention-seeking, a bit shouty.
But, hey, it's got PLENTY to shout about.
So nice.
So, so nice.
I like it.
Call me crazy.
Call me ostentatious.
Call me whatever the hell you want, I'm driving a Roller down the road.
Ha-ha-ha! Oop! It does pain me to admit this, but he does suit the car, doesn't he? Thank you.
This car is undoubtedly a five-star, magnificent example of British engineering.
However, two glitches in my book.
- Two? - Two.
First of all, why do Rolls always insist on sticking their granny's brooch on the most beautiful, futuristic grilles imaginable? Why do they do that? What? The Spirit of Ecstasy? What's wrong with that? Well, why don't they make it more contemporary so you look at it and you think, "No, it's all part of the same thing?" - You don't like it? - No, I hate it.
You don't have to look at it.
I know it's still there.
That's just like sweeping the problem under the carpet.
That's the way you're supposed to deal with problems.
Answer this question, then.
Have Rolls come up with a button to make the whole back end of the car disappear? Look at this, it's awful, it's hideous! It looks like a blue wall that somebody's just stuck a number plate on.
What's the matter with the back? The back is terrible.
You won't know this, right, but the back of this brand-new Rolls-Royce Dawn looks like a Rover 75.
Look! What's that about? - That looks all right, too.
- Really?! - What's the problem? - Look, you've got these gorgeous, sweeping lines.
You've got these really muscular haunches, you've got a really tight torso for such a big vehicle, and then they went home and the designers forgot to come back and we're left with this.
- All right, so you don't like the back of the car? - Yes.
OK, do you feel better now, getting that off your chest? - I'm OK for now.
For now.
- All right, well, - we'll come back to that.
- Thank you.
OK, I'm glad he's done with that.
We'll be returning to the Dawn later as it takes on an icon from the past.
Right now, it's special ops time as Top Gear's lone wolf, Chris Harris, comes to grips with BMW's latest tyre-slayer.
If you lived in the 1990s and you wanted to buy a fast car, but you couldn't afford a Porsche 911, you bought one of these.
A BMW M3.
It was quick, it was rear wheel drive, it was affordable-ish, and, most importantly, on a wet roundabout, it would do big skids.
It was therefore perfect.
Fast forward 20 years, and you can still buy an M3.
It looks like this.
Yes, it's very fast and very impressive, but the M3 isn't really an M3 any more.
It's become bigger, more complicated.
Much more grown up.
So, what if you want your M3 like they used to be? This is the M2.
Named in honour of one of Kent's finest stretches of motorway.
Not really.
It's called the M2 because it's based on the 2 Series, BMW's smallest coupe, and what BMW has done here is actually quite old-fashioned.
Just like that old M3 from the '90s, there's a manual gearbox.
You can have a paddle shift if you want, but, trust me, you don't.
And just like that old M3 from the '90s, you get a three litre straight-six engine.
OK, it's turbo charged now, but that does mean 365 horsepower and 0-60 in 4.
5 seconds.
A lot of modern turbo charged engines have clever software that limits the torque at low revs to stop you spinning the wheels and to make it more manageable.
The M2, however, is not interested in manageable.
So, full torque, that's the stuff that gives you the big shove in the back, arrives at just 1500rpm and it stays there pretty much all the way.
So, you don't have to find the M2's sweet spot, it's just there the whole time.
And with all this torque on tap, you can slide about a bit.
A lot, actually.
It's a little angry pool of energy, this car.
It's like the pent-up bloke in the pub who'll start a fight with just about anyone for staring at his pint the wrong way.
You! What are you looking at?! Now, admittedly, this kind of attitude does tend to attract a certain type of buyer.
There's no denying that fast BMW saloons still carry a faint suspicion of the "mobile phone salesman done good" about them.
And the headlights actually have three different settings.
There's dip beam, main beam and "Get out of my way, I'm on business! Deal, DEAL!" And, image problems aside, there are just a couple of other minor flaws.
Complete geeks like me will notice that there is no oil temperature gauge.
I always thought M cars had to have an oil temperature gauge, but this one doesn't, nor is the gear knob illuminated.
I know, you're shocked at the depth of my sadness, aren't you? But it's one of those cars that makes you qualify everything with a, "But what else can you get for the money?" And also, "What more can you expect?" Well, it's not often you introduce an Audi as the budget option, but this is the RS3.
It makes the same power as the BMW and, at £40,000, it's four grand cheaper.
Because it's got four-wheel drive, it'll get from 0-60 much quicker.
In fact, it'll get anywhere much quicker.
It is a deliriously, stupidly fast car.
Has bigger back seats, too, if you care about that sort of thing.
In fact, on paper, it's just a winner.
But you don't drive cars on paper.
Welcome, then, to the Top Gear One Corner Challenge.
In just one single corner, I'm going to demonstrate to you exactly why, despite what the official stats might say, the RS3 is not the better car, which means I'll need to strap on the patented Top Gear Funometer 3000, harnessing science and numbers and stuff to actually quantify happiness.
There we go.
Right, then, the Audi RS3.
And we've got, yeah, understeer, amusing parpy five-cylinder noises and understeer.
Right, let's have a look at the scores.
Er 76.
That's quite happy.
And now the M2.
So I scored 76 in the Audi.
What did I score in the BMW? 514! There you have it.
The BMW makes you um very much more happy in the corners.
There you are -- science.
It really is simply brilliant, the M2.
It takes you back to when driving was still brilliantly simple.
It takes you back to the 1990s.
In fact, BMW has made a mistake here.
It's not really an M2.
It's an M3.
There you go.
OK, now it's time for tonight's Stars in a Rallycross Car.
Please welcome Paul Hollywood and Jennifer Saunders.
How cool is this? Look at you two.
- Already friends, come on.
- Yes.
- Well, this morning, we weren't.
- Well, and we might not be at the end, I don't know.
- Yes.
- Look at the body language, isn't it perfect? - He just said to me, - "If you beat me, I can't go back to Bake Off.
" - No.
So, Paul, please tell us what is Jennifer doing here? Jennifer's here because Absolutely Fabulous has finally been turned into a movie.
Here's Eddie and Patsy on the run from the French police, Top Gear-style.
Sort of.
We're not going back, we're not going back.
Brake, Eddie! Ohhh Ohhh Oh, God, no! Aaaaah! I mean, she could be anywhere.
What a laugh! Was it fun to make? It was Yes, it was the best fun to make.
- Over 60 cameos, well-known cameos in the film.
- Yeah.
But one cameo was crucial to the film getting made.
Well, it's not even really a cameo, it's actually quite a main part cos the whole plot revolves around Patsy and Eddie and Kate Moss and we needed Kate Moss.
And I'd sold and written the whole film and forgotten to ask her.
And someone said, "So, Kate's great about this, is she? "She all right about this?" I went, "Yeah I think so.
" And luckily, well, not luckily, cos I thought she'd be pretty cool.
And she said yes and, uh - All right, well, it's out, um, on Friday.
- Yes.
And the whole of the country is so excited about this.
- Good.
Go and see it.
Please.
- They're so excited about AbFab The Movie.
Right, tell us why Paul's here.
Baker Paul Hollywood has a new cookbook out.
That's him! And it's called The Weekend Baker.
He's also currently filming the next series of the smash hit TV show, - the Great British Bake Off.
- Yeah.
Sorry, they weren't They're not impressed enough to applaud.
- The Great British Bake Off? - 'Scuse me! - Smash hit! - Unbelievable.
- Couldn't be any bigger, could it? - Unbelievable.
What we really want to know about the Great British Bake Off, we hear these whispers about ITV backing lorry-loads of cash up to your houses to try and steal it from the BBC.
- What's happening with that? - I've said -- and I think, uh, the girls have said as well -- we want to stay with the BBC.
- Yay! - Is this serious? - Yeah.
- You're joking me.
- No.
Well, that's ridiculous, Christopher.
But as far as, uh, Mary, Mel, Sue, and myself, we want to stay with the BBC.
- Don't you think so, it stays with the BBC? - Yes.
That's the Great British Bake Off staying with the BBC.
Yeah, the GBB on the BBC.
All right, OK, let's talk cars.
Now your best first car -- first of all, first car, Jennifer Saunders.
The first car I bought was an Alfa Romeo Spider.
Whoa, come on, let's look at that.
Oh! Very nice.
- Wow! - That's exactly what, and it was Because it belonged to this guy who used to drive it down the street and my friends and I used to go, "Oh, do you see that car?" And he went, "Yeah, yeah.
" And he used to show off in it.
And I'd go, "Oh, I love it.
" And one day he said, "Well, it's for sale.
" And I said, "How much?" He said, "£2,000.
" I only had £2,000 in the whole world and I just absolutely adored it.
All right, so, Paul, good luck, your first car up against Jennifer's Alfa Romeo Spider.
- You can't do that.
- Sorry! Well, mine is an Escort 1.
3.
Sorry.
Let's have a look.
You know what? Mine wasn't even the L model, so when I got the car, what I did was I bought the XR3 wheels, bumper overrides, the spoiler, front spoiler, stickers, everything on it.
It did look like an XR3 at the end.
And the stereo was so bad.
I went and bought myself a really I think it was a Kenwood, - it was quite expensive, you know, from down the shop.
- But Kenwood's Yeah, they don't just do mixers.
Oh, all right, I thought they did.
By the way, good baking credentials.
Very good.
Yeah, I bought a KitchenAid, uh, music system for the car.
And then when I put it in because the speakers were so bad in these plastic doors, I got these speakers which were like cubes.
And the only place I could put it was on a plastic dashboard.
So every time I took a corner, it just slid along and smacked the passenger in the head.
It was ruthless.
So, er, here we have Paul's completely over-pimped 1983 Ford Escort.
OK, let's hear it for that.
Up against Jennifer's Alfa Romeo Spider.
Well, it's all going beautifully, isn't it, Paul? If I'd known then, I would have saved up and bought something else! All right, so, best car ever, Jennifer? The best car we ever bought, I think, was a Jaguar Sovereign.
- Really? - Yeah.
And I'll tell you why.
It was because I was getting pregnant a lot and having babies and we needed a family car and I didn't want to go for estates for some - we wanted to drive something a bit lovely.
- Yeah.
And we tried this out and all the kids fit in the back seat.
Dogs in the footwells.
Huge boot and, honestly, it was the nicest, softest drive ever.
But that's not as good as your Alfa Romeo Spider.
You can have your Alfa Spider if you like, cos it's about winning, it's about beating him.
Oh, OK, if I was to actually choose my perfect car, it would be the Alfa, yeah.
OK, the Alfa back then, please.
Thank you very much indeed.
OK, so here we go again.
- Now, look at it, it's gorgeous.
- You're a nightmare.
Right, Hollywood, best car ever, please.
Uh, the, the best car I've ever owned is the Aston Martin DBS Volante in quantum silver.
There.
Oh, for heaven's sake! Tongues off the floor, if you don't mind.
OK, tell us about this one, then.
Well, I'd always wanted, uh, a Bond car.
And I saw this, um, for sale and it was the quantum silver again, so it was the Bond one from Quantum of Solace and Casino Royale.
But it was the soft top version.
And I thought, "Oh, I've got to have that.
" And we go down to France a lot, the family, we'd go down to France driving round and it's beautiful.
All right, where'd you put the family? That's my only question.
When you say "the family", are you towing them in a caravan? Because I don't see where the family goes.
That's a very good question.
You have no idea how big that boot is.
Well, I can see it, it's hideous.
The kids go in there, give them a couple of lollipops, away they go.
OK, once again, it's up to the audience.
Paul is 1-0 down.
Best car ever -- we have Paul's DBS Volante up against Jennifer's, once again, the Alfa Romeo Spider.
Let's hear it for Paul's DBS Volante.
Let's hear it for an encore and the Alfa Romeo Spider.
Come on! Paul, you just got it -- 1-1.
Perfect! It's down to the laps, my friends.
Down to the laps.
- Oh, no.
- Paul Hollywood, you have a national A, B, and C racing licence.
I've got an international C.
What is that? Well, apparently it means he's done a lot of driving competitively - I have a swimming certificate.
- What? I have a swimming certificate.
- Which is more useful today, I have to say.
- 50 metres.
Paul, I put it to you -- is this or is it not true, as Jennifer's going round, and I don't know if you know this, Jen, Paul asked for a stopwatch so he could time your lap.
I do believe that, I believe that.
I was timing the lap, yeah.
I know cos I looked and I saw your little face pale as I sped past.
I went, I went white.
All right, now, these have been specified as the worst conditions anybody has ever seen on this track.
So, basically, it's just between you two.
It's your own special little competition, all right, OK? Would you like to see the laps? Yes! Jennifer first.
Calm down, you two! - Oh, God! - It's OK.
Jennifer on the start line, here we go.
There she is, Jennifer Saunders in our mighty Mini Cooper.
Come on now, I can see Paul Hollywood has come out to watch, so we've got to bloody take it to him.
That's the spirit, Jen, a seriously soggy track, the wettest our rally cross course has ever been.
It's into the horrid bit, into the mud.
Now that's the water splash.
Where it starts, where it ends, we don't know any more.
That is so serious, it's not funny.
Come on! That's it, back on the road.
So focused into Hammerhead, back on dry land.
Hammerhead, very tidy.
Come on, put your foot down, woman.
Approaching the hairpin, more water, look at this.
Oh, my, yeah, come on, that's pretty impressive.
Excellent control, great technique.
Here comes the jump.
Any air? No air.
Sorry, uh, Jen, no air today.
As fast as you can go Ooh! Tyre wall, back on terra firma, OK.
Into the next to last, nice apex cutting the corner.
Into Gambon, how tidy will this be? Anything's easy after what you've been through.
Was that a bit of counter-steering there, you naughty girl? Very good, Jennifer Saunders.
- Thank you.
- How do you feel about that? Well, it looks a lot better than it felt.
It felt really messy.
We've actually classified Jennifer's conditions as "appalling" and Paul's, yours we have classified as "very wet" cos it was drying a little.
What?! What?! Well, look at the amount of water I displaced for you.
- It was the same.
- It wasn't the same.
It was two hours later and the sun had been shining.
Listen here, it was literally about a minute after I followed you.
The track had been in the oven for at least another hour.
It was raining when I was out there.
- It wasn't.
- OK, would you like to see Paul's lap? Yes! Here we go.
Paul Hollywood on the start line in the rally cross Mini.
Paul Hollywood, the Wizard from the Wirral, on our wickedly wet track.
Let's go! Right, here we go! This is for the Bake Off team.
He's not in the tent any more.
He's in our rally cross Mini.
It may be a bit drier than Jennifer's lap out there.
Come on, you can see it's drier.
It's just like a swimming pool! Mary would go mad if this was her car! Hammerhead, very nice.
Car draining off there.
This is a little bit nasty.
Now I've got to say Jennifer was very impressive around the hairpin and what about Paul? Not as dramatic, but very tight.
No air, sorry, sorry, no air again.
Come back another day for some air.
Right, so here we go Pfft! Through the tyre wall.
The Follow-through and foot down all the way here now.
Coming up to Gambon.
Massive slide out the last corner, a Hollywood slide and across the line! He's so chuffed with that.
You should see your face! Oh, you lit up there.
You so lit up at the end there.
Let's look at the times.
- So, forget all that, OK.
That doesn't exist, all right? - OK.
They don't exist, worst conditions of all time.
Jennifer, if it's under three, I think you're doing really well.
Jennifer Saunders in appalling conditions -- two minutes .
.
21.
6, there you go! Paul Hollywood, very wet conditions, not quite as wet, - it has to be said, as Jennifer.
- Unbelievable.
- True, c'est vrai? - No, it was appalling.
Paul Hollywood, two minutes again.
16.
4, there you go.
Happy, happy together.
Ladies and gentlemen, Jennifer Saunders, Paul Hollywood.
So, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, salt and vinegar.
Gather round, it's Top Gear story time.
Tonight, a true tale from many moons ago beginning in a mystical land far, far away -- a place called Coventry.
Let me tell you a story.
1961, the night before the Geneva Motor Show, Jaguar is preparing to reveal the E-Type.
Excitement from the world's press exceeds all expectations.
A second E-Type is needed.
A driver is despatched.
13 hours to reach Geneva, 750 miles through the night -- he makes it with ten minutes to spare.
The rest, as they say, is history -- a journey never to be repeated.
Until now.
It is 55 years to the night since Jaguar test driver Norman Dewis burst out of the Coventry factory doors and onto this very road.
And, in 13 hours at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show, Jaguar will unveil this car, the F-Type SVR convertible.
And when I say "this car", I mean THIS car -- this is the only F-Type SVR convertible in the world.
If I don't get there, then the Jaguar boss will unveil nothing.
Fresh air.
The F-Type is Jag's spiritual successor to the E-Type -- a two-seat, rear-drive proper sports car.
Now Jaguar's elite SVO skunkworks department has turned the F-Type into simply the fastest series production Jaguar ever created -- the SVR.
What they've done is they've taken the standard V8 F-Type, and made it nastier -- more power, less weight, more rage.
Hauling me across Europe is a 567 brake horsepower V8.
It'll clock 0 to 60 in three and a half seconds, on its way to a top speed of 195mph.
And that is the kind of grunt you need when you're trying to outrun history.
With twice the power of the original E-Type and 21st century motorways to help me on my way, matching Norman's time should be, on paper, a breeze.
But I've also got 21st century traffic and 21st century traffic police.
If there's one hold up, I'm not going to make this.
And as I arrived at the Channel Tunnel, I started to realise the magnitude of my task.
I wasn't just trying to keep up with any old test driver -- I was trying to keep up with a legend.
After serving in the Second World War, Norman Dewis joined Jaguar as their chief test driver.
There, for the next 30 years, he helped develop some of the most iconic sports cars ever created.
In 1953, Norman set a new production car world record, reaching 172mph in a Jaguar XK120.
Then in 1971, during development of the XJ13 prototype, a rear tyre blew out, causing the car to barrel roll three times.
It was completely destroyed.
Norman was back at work the next day.
This was the man who drove the E-Type to Geneva, the man I have to keep up with.
Tonight, I am following in the footsteps of an automotive pioneer.
I'm standing on the shoulders of an absolute giant.
And this, the most powerful of modern Jags, is being driven by an idiot off the internet me.
Yes, entering France, with an entire large country still to cross, I was definitely up against it, and the consequences of failure would be.
significant.
The Geneva Show is the centrepiece of the motoring calendar, and this car is Jaguar's big reveal.
If I don't get there, I won't just have failed Top Gear, I'll have failed Britain.
I better get a move on.
Oh, I should probably mention That carbon fibre rear wing deploys automatically at 60mph.
In fact, if there are any traffic cops watching this, the wing deploys automatically at 40mph.
Make that 30.
'As the SVR ate up France, 'it was clearly more than capable of keeping pace with Norman.
'But with the night wearing on' Push the ticket button, there you go.
'.
.
and only the occasional local for company' I have no idea what you're saying.
'The car wasn't the problem -- it was me.
' So tired, so, so tired.
It was tough.
But you get on with it, don't you? You have to keep going.
This is relentless.
How the hell did Norman Dewis do this journey without energy drinks? The man's a god! And then, at last Daybreak.
Welcome relief from the darkness and the final stretch.
There's tired, there's dead tired, and then there's how I'm feeling right now.
Fortunately, the SVR is packed with a handy pick-me-up.
There's a new exhaust, which is made out of Inconel.
That's the stuff they use to build space rockets.
It saves 16kg over the exhaust on the standard V8, but, more importantly, it makes a noise like an industrial wood chipper .
.
being fed into another industrial wood chipper.
Ha-ha! 'Somewhere in the small hours, though, my schedule had slipped 'and with just two hours until the SVR was due onstage, 'I had over 100 miles still to cover, 'most of them on mountain roads.
' All right, hold on to your hats.
Unlike the ordinary V8 F-Type, the SVR is all-wheel drive.
Right now, that's a good thing.
The acceleration on this thing is just savage.
It's supercar fast.
And that noise! I'm loving this thing.
The handling, you turn it in, it feels sharper, the throttle response -- more instant.
It just feels like a much more hardcore version of a car that is already pretty damn hardcore.
That's exactly what I need right now.
Oh, yes! 'With the press gathering on their show stand, 'Jaguar bosses in Geneva were getting nervous.
' Come on, MOVE! Thank you.
Merci beaucoup.
'And my phone was going crazy.
' 'The car has to be here, Rory.
' Yeah, no, no, I get it, no, I totally get it.
- OK, bye-bye.
- Bye-bye, bye-bye.
I knew this was a bad idea, man.
I knew this was a bad idea.
'Approaching Geneva, I had just 10 minutes 'till the car was due onstage.
' There it is in front of me.
I can see it, I can see Palexpo.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Jaguar Land Rover press conference will shortly commence.
I need to find gate D, gate D.
Please let this be it.
I'm delivering this car to Jaguar.
Super urgent.
Is this gate D? No? No.
No! I need to back up.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Jaguar F-Type SVR.
'And there to welcome me' - Norman.
- Hey! - Rory, lovely to meet you.
- Nice to meet you.
'It's about determination, believing you'll do it.
'I never doubted for a second.
' Truly magical.
And, of course, there's one man we'd all love to meet.
So, why don't we do that? Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome, with his new mate Rory Reid, the legendary Norman Dewis, OBE.
- How are you? Come over here.
- [I'm good inside mate.]
What an honour.
Don't you agree, Rory? Definitely.
This guy, massive respect.
Look, I might have made it, but in the spirit of keeping it real, this guy back in 1961 did it and he beat me by ten minutes.
Ten minutes faster.
Now, Norman has worked for Jag since 1952 in research and development.
And, now, because you were a test driver in the most dangerous era of motoring, technically, you shouldn't really be here, should you? Well no.
Uh, I had three big crashes.
But, those days, we didn't have seatbelts or fireproof overalls or proper crash helmets.
Uh, you just got in the car and got on with the job.
I mean, I say, I had three big crashes.
C-Type, D-Type, XJ13.
And, uh, every time I got out of it, I was back on the track next morning.
And, recently, I go up a decent bit of road, and trip up and cut my bloody wrist.
So that's the worst injury you've That's the worst injury I've had, yes! That's unbelievable.
Ladies and gentlemen, Norman Dewis, OBE.
Thank you.
OK, wow, awesome.
Earlier, you remember, I was driving this sublime Rolls-Royce Dawn -- a car I loved and a car that Chris had a few issues with.
Yeah, so here's the real issue with the Dawn, though, Matt, OK, here's the deal.
With all brand-new Rolls-Royces, it's the same thing.
Fresh out of the showroom, they're just too flashy.
They rub people up the wrong way.
I'm not saying it's fair on the car or the owners, it's just the way it It's just a fact.
You have to allow several decades between buying a new Rolls-Royce and then the Rolls-Royce becoming classic, classy, and loved.
Seriously.
Do you believe me? No.
OK, look, here is what I'm talking about.
Look at this.
A 1976 Rolls-Royce Corniche.
Isn't this beautiful? Yes.
See? It's beautiful.
Isn't this YOUR 1976 Rolls-Royce Corniche? Yes.
It's also mine, but that's sort of precisely my point.
Right? People can't fail to smile when this glides by even with a tool like me behind the wheel.
OK, and the funny thing is Chris actually believes that.
All right? So what we decided to do was put it to the test, OK, by taking the Dawn and Chris's Queen Mary here on the campaign trail.
We let the honest people of Dingle, West Ireland decide for themselves.
Yes.
So, welcome to the Rolls-Royce Corniche, one of the best of the very best.
OK, it may only be half as powerful, not even, maybe a tenth as reliable on a good day, but you know what? None of that matters.
In fact, it makes the Corniche more attractive, gives it vulnerability, you know, makes it more human.
Chris Evans cracks me up.
He's going to be going on and on about nostalgia and how cars were better in the old days.
I'm here to tell you they weren't.
They sucked.
Now, on a road like this, do you have your traction control on or off? Well, it's sort of permanently off because I actually don't have traction control.
What? Discussions like this are considered inelegant when it comes to Rolls-Royces, Matthew.
The question -- old Rolls versus new Rolls.
The town of Dingle to decide.
They would vote for their favourite at the end of the day so we had just a few hours to garner as much support as we could muster.
And the campaign trail kicked off here.
Not knowing much about Gaelic sports, we waited for what we hoped was half-time .
.
before targeting the most qualified people to judge between a couple of swanky cars -- a load of footballers.
Bring in the teams! What do you think, new or old? Come on, come on, ref, get in.
Let me show you the boot.
On this one, the transmission is hooked to the sat nav and it can tell what's coming and puts you in the right gear for what the road looks like in front of you.
'It became clear that I was going to struggle 'with Matt in full showroom mode.
' Push down.
That sells the car right there, that button.
'And, even worse, I had that Hollywood charm to contend with.
' - Hi, how are you? - Good, how are you? - Good, good, good, good.
Hang on, there's nobody in my car any more.
'Already confident about the evening's big vote, 'I called for an early opinion poll.
' What if we do this, let's say all the players go around the car that they'd prefer.
Let's try that.
I think if it was a vote between me and you, you obviously would become president.
I think it was the new Dawn.
It was the Dawn of a new day, if you will.
Oh, don't get all poetic on me, please.
Gaelic football had been a disastrous start for the Corniche.
The Dawn's flashy gadgets and the seemingly irresistible draw of a free umbrella had won people over.
But I really think they were missing the point.
See, the thing about a Rolls is you have to wait.
You have to wait long enough for time to peel back that stigma of in-your-face ostentation, "Look at me, I'm Charlie Big Potatoes," to reveal a beautiful patina riven into the leather and the walnut and the paint and the very spirit and essence of the car.
'It's those more characterful things about the Corniche 'that make me love it.
'I just needed to find someone in Dingle to agree.
'Luckily, our next stop seemed more likely to go in my favour.
'We'd been challenged to a smell test.
' Your car just smells of new, it's got that new smell.
You know, the smell you can buy in a canister and just spray it for two quid.
Does your nose work? To settle the dispute, we were meeting someone whose nose works very well indeed.
Dingle's head distiller, chief whiskey sniffer, Michael.
If one of your products here were to smell like an old wet dog, would you sell it? - No.
- Perfect.
'So, we put our roofs up for maximum pungency, 'and seeing as that would take Chris until sometime next week' How you doing over there? Yeah, fine, thanks, I don't need any help.
'.
.
Michael started in the Dawn.
' Hmm.
He seems to be enjoying it.
'Turns out a quarter of a million buys you the luxurious smell of' Interesting.
'Interesting? What the hell does that mean? 'OK, time for a new approach.
' Let me tell you about the leather in there.
The leather is made from 12 Bavarian bulls that are raised at altitudes too high for mosquitoes so that they don't put holes in the hide and treated with a special treatment that doesn't squeak.
Move your butt around, it does not squeak.
Hmm.
- Is that nice? - Yeah.
'Michael didn't seem entirely convinced.
' Please.
Careful the door doesn't fall off when you open it.
What do you get? Well, there's the wood and the leather.
It's deep, it's almost tobacco.
It is It is very It's complex, but it's good.
I like it.
I'm impressed.
OK, and? Want to have another go? That was It was nice.
And the story with the Bavarian cows and everything - was beautiful, it's - Bulls, to be - Sorry, bulls.
It's not always the case that older is better, but I think in this case, Matt, I'm afraid I'm going to have to go with Chris.
'Yes! I was back in the game.
And Matt wasn't happy.
' He was drunk.
He was swaying back and forth.
Did you notice that? That last test made me realise even more why I love this car.
Didn't realise so much that when I get in the car, it's already got me under its spell because of the way it smells.
Isn't that brilliant? 'The heart and soul of the Corniche was my secret weapon 'so I was also looking forward to the next comparison -- 'how they sound.
' This is a V8.
There's no finer sounding engine note in the world than a V8.
Everybody knows that.
But that car has a terrible, terrible sounding engine, though.
It really does sound like a portable hair dryer.
'Hoping to avoid any stereotypes about Ireland, 'we picked the first group 'of average everyday people we could find' '.
.
and asked them which engine's voice spoke to them.
' OK, are you ready? Sounds like a hamster trying to stifle a cough.
OK, now listen to this one.
- You ready? - Yep.
- Yes? - Yeah.
Woohoo! V8, baby! 'Dingle was beginning to fall for the charms of the Corniche 'and I was starting to wonder why I'd put so much faith 'in the taste of footballers.
' Which car, this car or that car? - Uh Your one.
- Yay! 'But the vote could still go either way.
' Excuse me, sorry to interrupt.
Very nice sheep.
- Yeah? - Which is the best car? Would you have this one or would you have that one? I think that one.
I'm sure you're an amazing farmer but you've got a terrible taste in cars.
'With not long left till the polls opened, 'the people of Dingle were out in force 'so we hit the town for some last minute canvassing.
' Vote with your heart! Vote for smell, sound, class and quality.
No need to vote for the Corniche -- it'll only let you down.
Vote brand-new technology at its finest! Cast your votes now, cast your votes now.
'With all the votes cast, there was nothing more we could do.
'As the day drew to a close, we made the most of the incredible road.
'And, for just a minute, 'the competition didn't seem quite so important.
' Look at that, wow! Do you know what corniche means? A road cut into a hill.
The Corniche is now on a corniche.
This is spectacular.
And these two cars, 40 years apart, but together in spirit.
Wow! Look at this.
- It doesn't get any better.
- It really doesn't.
Fantastic! What a day! Amazing! Amazing day.
You know, I've got to say when this whole thing started, I thought for sure, for me, it was going to be the new car.
But after spending the whole day seeing your passion for it and seeing the people, how they love it, the smell and the sound of it and just the patina of the older car and your love for that and everything, at the end of the day, I I still take the new one.
I would.
I can't lie to you, my friend.
- Honestly? - Honestly.
I thought we'd converted you.
No.
Great scenery, great roads, great people.
Yeah, sometimes paradise is just a ferry away.
You don't have to go to the other side of the world.
- Thank you, Ireland.
- Yeah, thank you.
OK, we'll find out the final result in a minute.
But first, let's take a quick poll here.
Chris, old or new? - Old.
- Yes! All right, thank you very much indeed.
Whatever.
Rory, old or new? - You know what it is, new, all day.
- That's what I'm talking about.
Absolute crawler.
Norman, Norman, new or old? It's got to be old.
Of course it's got to be old! Norman knows.
OK, well, thank God it doesn't matter what any of us think because it's down to Dingle.
Let's cross to Ireland for the football referee and the teams back in the bar.
I, Richie Williams, Gaelic football referee and returning officer for Dingle, hereby declare that the winner, with 68% of the vote, is the Rolls-Royce Dawn.
I told you! Whatever! I'm going with Norman.
Shall we go with Norman? Yes! Sorry, Dingle.
On next week's show, a very special MGB, the brand-new Ford Mustang and Honda resurrects the NSX.
- Good night, everyone! - Good night, everyone!