Will it improve or continue to crash and burn?
Episode four improves immediately. Gone are the awkward intros from the previous episodes. It immediately moves into a review of the Aston Martin Vulcan with part-time presenter Chris Harris in Abu Dhabi on the Yas Marina Formula 1 circuit.
Chris takes the insane sounding Vulcan out onto the track. Your typical stats and Top gear cutaways included, as well as the standard Chris Harris-“ness” ( take it or leave it ) the review all in all is a good one and probably the best of the series so far. This may be due in large part to the amazing car and shoot location, but we will chalk it up to a slight upward trend in the shows quality. A great bit of this part of the episode is the comparison to the current Aston Martin Vantage S, but as it just aired, no spoilers!
Unfortunately in between this and the next segment we are subjected once again to the brutally awful acting of Matt until they turn the Vulcan over to the Stig for a lap around the Top Gear track. The lap, about what you would expect, turns out an amazing lap time, but you will have to watch for yourself to see it. ( Did I mention it was amazing?) You will find out the time however on something we should mention. They have bastardized the lap time board with a tinny extension ( the naughty laps, actual name) for non-track cars. We’re not big fans, but maybe this is a sign they are finally, albeit slowly, starting to do their own thing instead of blatantly copying the formula of the past.
We then move on to a segment featuring Eddie, Sabine, Chris ( Evans) and Matt. The first thing we find out is Sabine’s acting is about as bad as Matt’s. In the segment they race Eddie taking a luxury train against a series of cheap “luxury” cars including s 2002 Jaguar XJ driven by Chris, an Audi A8 driven by Sabine, and a 89′ Gold Wing motorcycle driven by Matt. Just when we thought the show was improving, it once again dives deep, deep down into the crapper. Matt and Chris continue being all together unbearable, Sabine is basically an element that wouldn’t be noticed if she was gone, and the challenges are about as dumb as they get. One includes having a chef cook a meal in their vehicle. Do we need to go on?
During the intermission after another round of brutal commentary, we move onto the stars in a rally cross car. The stars this time around are Bryan Cox ( an English physicist ) and Bear Grylls, world renowned pee drinker, oh and survivalist.
Aside from the insisted upon awkward introductions of each other, the stars are actually the best of the season thus far. They were both genuinely interesting to listen to for the most part and they each had entertaining laps, Bear’s being the most so of the season. Evan’s commentary surprisingly has begun to evolve and move away from a Clarkson carbon copy to a bit of his own personality. Perhaps a sign of things to come, but don’t hold your breath just yet.
The next segment takes us to New York City in the all new Tesla Model X with Rory Reid. The Tesla as you would expect, is phenomenal. Quite, powerful, and full of Tesla goodness. The review is definitely a step up from Reid’s previous segment on the Focus RS.
He eventually takes the X outside of the city for some proper driving. The segment is well filmed, has great sound and editing, and is again, one of the best for the season so far. He tests the power, tech tools like the filtration system, the doors, and the autopilot. He then takes the Tesla to compare to a group of tuner cars, one of which includes a new Hellcat which he then proceeds to drag race. Any idea who wins? You will definitely want to watch and find out!
The episode wraps up with the second half of the train vs car vs motorcycle segment which really doesn’t improve as they head to Venice. Who wins? You won’t really care.
So there you have it. The new Top Gear has begun to improve with a few, genuinely good segments. There is still a good amount of crap, but perhaps they really are beginning to come into their own. They have a lot of road bumps to get past, and they may not get their in time to beat the boys on Amazon, but only time will tell. Keep it tuned here for continuing reviews of both Top Gear, and The Tour when it airs this fall.