Synopsis: The boys – Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond – all get something to do in this episode. Hammond gets to drive the new Alfa Romeo 4C around Lake Como, Clarkson gets to taunt Hammond with an amphibious quad and drive the McLaren P1 at Spa Francorchamps in Belgium while Captain Slow fiddles with British military vehicles.
Details: The second episode of the new series begins admirably enough with a profile of the beautiful new Alfa Romeo 4C alongside the equally beautiful Lake Como in northern Italy. Hammond drives the 4C because – we suspect – he’s the only one of the trio who would fit comfortably in it and he goes through all the typical motions. The stats: the 4C costs $75-80,000, weighs a svelte 925 Kg [2040 lbs], has a 1.7 liter turbo engine that kicks out 237 horsepower for a top speed of 160 mph and a 0-60 time of 4.5 seconds and gets 40 mpg [though not the way Hammond was driving it or, for that matter, any non-granny-type person would drive the car]. The subtle nuances consist of: the chassis being entirely built out of carbon fiber making it an “agile kitten”, the bonnet [hood] is bolted shut, there is no power steering and it is too wide for northern Italian streets.
All seems to be going well with the 4C’s test until Hammond meets up with Jeremy sitting atop what, at first, appears to be a standard issue quad bike but, in reality, turns out to be an amphibious quad that turns into a quad version of a jet ski. Supposedly, not knowing this, Hammond agrees to race around the lake to a hotel with the winner receiving the usual “Top Gear” bragging rights. Hammond begins the segment by gloating about his surefire win while Jeremy first gets lost then finds an entrance to the lake and turns his quad into the aforementioned jet ski and then begins the long and arduous process of posturing about whether he should gloat himself about an easy win or merely allow the 4C to win because everybody loves the Alfa. He is temporarily interrupted by choppy Lake Como waves before eventually deciding to allow Hammond to win.
What comes next should be The Stig taking the 4C for a lap around the track but instead is replaced by a lame – exceptionally lame – Verizon-sponsored pseudo-ad showing the 4C going around the Top Gear test track but without Jeremy’s usual voiceover and a mere clock of the lap time. Excruciatingly lame.
Back in the studio, Jeremy recounts how his “sausage looked like a beaver’s tail” after riding the amphi-quad for two days when they were forced to do an extra day of shooting for the 4C-quad race segment due to an American tourist apparently accidentally knocking their camera containing film of the first race into Lake Como. This is followed by a look at the warning label accompanying the amphi-quad which warned that “normal swimwear” would not protect against water entering either the rectum or the vagina.
The News: James opens by mentioning Kia is working on gesture control technology – nobody much cares – so they move on to commenting on the British motorway messaging system. Hammond mentions the new Corvette ZR6, Jeremy doesn’t care and mentions the new Jaguar F-Type and asks a random American in the audience – “Why do you put strawberries on everything?”, to which the American rather obviously replies, “Because they taste good!” The news segment ends with James and Jeremy agreeing they do not fancy petrol [gas] stations at supermarkets and Hammond mocking them for their old man ways.
James then takes somewhat of a brief detour to produce a segment on British military vehicles used in Afghanistan before the guest – actor Tom Hiddleston from “The Avengers” and “Thor” – is brought out to do a lap around the track in the Reasonably Priced Car. Hiddleston unexpectedly stalls the Vauxhall Astra on an attempt before finishing with a decent lap time of 1:49.9 in a wet lap.
Finally, Jeremy road tests the McLaren P1 hybrid [cost: $1.45 million] at the Spa Francorchamps Formula One track in Belgium. The battery only lasts six miles but when the petrol engine is engaged, it can reach 903 horsepower. Other than that, not much of worth is determined except that Belgium is the brightest country on Earth and the Ferrari versus McLaren argument is, as it has always been, subjective.
The Poop and Skinny: Top thing to remember from this episode…
Some Belgians can make ladies shoes entirely out of chocolate.
The coveted ASN Best Line of the Episode Award goes once again to Richard, who declares the obvious – “We have to love Alfa – it’s the law.”
Courtesy of the BBC, here is Top Gear Series 21, Episode 2.