Top Gear Series 25 Episode 1 Review: Homage To The V8

Top Gear Series 25 Episode 1 Review
The boys are back in town...

The second season of The Grand Tour is now over, meaning that it’s now time for the latest series of Top Gear, which is now in its 25th outing. To say that the trio were back with a bang would be an understatement as Le Blanc, Harris and Reid got off to a belter as they paid homage to the V8 engine. So much respect was shown in fact, that the whole show was pretty dedicated to said engine. That’s by no means a bad thing though, as it was a great watch.

Three Guys and Three V8s

After a brief intro and a short film giving us a taste of what was what to come in the series, before heading to America, more specifically Utah. The trio are given the task of finding what they believe to be the best V8. Le Blanc stays true to his roots by picking the Ford Mustang. This isn’t just any Mustang though, this is a 350R that has been tuned by Hennessy, meaning it’s pumping out 850hp.

Reid then turns up in the most extreme F-Type money can buy – the SVR. He seems pretty pleased with himself, but then clocks the Hennessy badge upon the back of Le Blanc’s Mustang – oh dear. That leaves Chris Harris, who turns up in the super-capable, McLaren 570GT. This, as Harris claims, is three cars in one – supercar, grand tourer, and erm, estate. Harris is keen to show off the extra storage capacity, leading Le Blanc to joke, stating that Harris could probably fit two sheets of the A4 paper in there.

Top Gear Series 25 Episode 1 Review
An old Top Gear friend drops in – quite literally – to help with one of the challenges.

The chemistry between the three of them is off a high standard and I’m impressed at how far their chemistry has come since the awkward first series. There is also good banter between them too, which certainly helps to make the film more entertaining. After Harris complaining about the lack of having no road, the trio set on the dirt path to find a proper road.

Once on the road, the trio have to embark on a few challenges to see who had brought the best car to the party. There were quite a few, much to my delight, so I won’t cover them all here. However, all three cars were able to show off their talents, as well as showing off their noise. The cinematography was also top notch too, and I’d definitely say that the production is keeping up with the sweet shots provided by The Grand Tour.

Oh, and Ken Block was on hand to help with proceedings, which of course only helped to make the video even thrilling. The chase sequence was brilliant, and could have easily been slotted in to a movie if you ask me. Harris’ car control certainly impressed me too, especially when he was sliding the Woking-made 570GT through the corners.

It’s Wet

That is the main thing to take away from this week’s Star In A Reasonably Fast Car segment. In the hot seat is a celeb that’s been on before – Rob Brydon. He was very keen to stress that it was wet, and indeed he had a valid point. I think a boat would have been of better use out there then a rear wheel drive Toyota, so predictably his time was rather slow.

Top Gear Series 25 Episode 1 Review
I think Brydon may have lost his steering wheel.

Still, it made for decent watching and Mr Brydon was able to bring a good level of humour to proceedings, as well as taking Harris a peg down or two by knocking his coaching capabilities. Upon first reflection it seems as they are going to stop the celeb hanging around, which I found awkward most of the time, so I’ll have to keep an eye on this one.

Challenging An Icon

After Brydon’s very wet lap, the action heads back Stateside as we return to the V8 test. The trio head to Rocky Mountain Raceway where they see who is fastest around the oval race track, NASCAR style. I won’t reveal who won the race, but I will say that Rory Reid got closer to the walls than what I would deem comfortable. I actually thought he was going to clip his wing mirror off! At least you can’t accuse him of not giving it his all I suppose.

Harris is then roped in to taking part in a chain car figure of 8 race. No, I’ve never heard of it either, but it will all make sense once you watch the show, but basically you take part in three cars chained together. The middle car is empty, Harris was in the rear car and had control of the brakes only. This meant someone was needed for the front car, which controlled the steering and the throttle. Step forward Sabine Schmitz, much to the displeasure of Harris…

Top Gear Series 25 Episode 1 Review

After Harris’…ordeal, the trio hit the American tarmac once more where they head to sacred salt of the Bonneville Salt Flats, only to find that it’s…flooded. Not to worry though, as Harris is able to find an airstrip that looks to be abandoned. I think you know where this is heading… There’s time for just one more challenge though and for it, the trio bring in an icon. Well, two if you count The Stig.

Le Blanc, Harris and Reid head to another racetrack, where they need to beat a series of lap times by one of the most iconic V8s there has ever been – the Ford GT40. At first the three seem confident they can pull this off as they have modern cars with modern tyres, but then the aforementioned Stig clambers in the cockpit and the smiles are wiped off their faces.

As you can imagine, this creates a fantastic climax to the episode and all-in-all, I feel this was a strong start to the 25th series of Top Gear, and it’s certainly whet my appetite for what is to come.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Top Gear Series 25 Episode 1 Review


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