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Top Gear (series 17)

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Top Gear (series 17)

Top Gear (series 17)
Country of origin United Kingdom
No. of episodes 6
Original channel BBC Two
Original run 26 June 2011 (2011-06-26) – 31 July 2011 (2011-07-31)

The seventeenth series of British motoring programme Top Gear began on BBC Two and BBC HD, on 26 June 2011, with the usual presenting team of Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, James May and The Stig.[1]


Total No. Title Reviews Features Guest Original air date UK viewers
134 1 Series 17, Episode 1 MarauderBMW 1 Series M CoupeMini John Cooper Works WRC with Amy Williams 50th Birthday of the Jaguar E-Type • Hummer alternatives in South Africa Alice CooperAmy WilliamsKris Meeke 26 June 2011 6.22[nb 1]

Feature: Richard is given the task of road testing the Marauder, a South African military vehicle. He attempts to find similarities and differences between it and the Hummer before subjecting it to a series of tests, including how to manoeuvre out of a supermarket parking space, how to drive it through a crowded town, and what would happen to it if seven pounds of Semtex were to be detonated under the car. After the Hummer is completely destroyed by the explosives, Richard performs the same test to the Marauder, only to have the car survive and drive away from the explosion.

Review: Jeremy reviews the BMW 1 Series M Coupe, comparing it to the original Volkswagen Golf GTI, the Porsche Cayman R and the Lotus Evora S. By the end of the review, he is very pleased with everything about it, even though Hammond can't justify the £40,000 price tag. It sets a lap time of 1:25.00, about 0.3 seconds faster than a 4-door BMW M3, despite the damp track condition.

News: The trio talk about the new MG 6, criticising its looks and it being a rebadging of the Roewe 550. Clarkson then goes on to discuss a website he has found, which informs people how many models of a particular type of car are still on the road in the United Kingdom. He reports that there are hardly any old MGs, but there are plenty of classic Fords. James also discusses the new MINI coupé, which the trio strongly criticise because of the claim that it would be "styled to look like a baseball cap used backwards".

Feature: Clarkson pays homage to the Jaguar E-type on its 50th birthday, driving an E-Type Speedster to a hilltop convention where over 100 E-Types have gathered in celebration. He claims that every model was fantastic, and it was possibly the best-looking car ever. He also unveils a successor (the Eagle Speedster) which has been updated for the 21st century, but he is startled by its £500,000 price tag.

Feature: James returns to Lillehammer in Norway in a bid to clear up some unfinished business. He gathers a MINI John Cooper Works WRC, MINI test driver Kris Meeke and skeleton sled racer Amy Williams in an attempt to prove that a car can be faster than a bobsleigh. May was beaten on his previous attempt by Hammond's bobsleigh team. May completes the race in 59.73 seconds and Amy Williams finishes in 1:01.04.

Star In A Reasonably Priced Car: Rock legend Alice Cooper sets a time of 1:56.3, becoming the second slowest star to drive around the track in the Kia Cee'd.
135 2 Series 17, Episode 2 Aston Martin Virage High-performance hatchbacks in Lucca and around the Monaco Grand Prix track: (Citroën DS3 RacingFiat 500C AbarthRenault Sport Clio 200 Cup) Ross Noble 3 July 2011 5.72[nb 2]

Review: James rants about almost all Aston Martins, claiming that they all ride too hard because Aston develops all of their cars at the Nürburgring. He then reviews the Aston Martin Virage, at first praising the build quality and its handling, saying that it's sharper than Aston Martin DB9, but not as hardcore as the DBS. However, when he took the Virage for a ride around the Top Gear test facility, he was very cross about the uncomfortable ride. In the hands of The Stig, the Virage sets a lap time of 1:24.4

News: The hosts talk about the new Aston Martin V12 Zagato, which prompts James to complain about the number of new cars being developed at the Nürburgring. Clarkson introduces the Citroën DS5, and then discusses the faces of new Peugeot and Kia Optima, and positive camber on the rear wheels of the Vauxhall Insignia. Clarkson then brings up the topic of modern Jaguar E-Types, with a Jaguar XK redesigned by a Swiss company named "Growler", which Hammond states is "the welcome mat of a lady from the 1970s". The trio then trade off various quips, with Clarkson commenting on how there will be a "trimmed down version for the Brazilian market", and May suggesting how awkward it will sound when a bloke says "I'm going to the garage to wax the Growler" as well as Clarkson imitating the horror of the car's Swiss designers, who had never heard what "Growler" actually meant.

Challenge: The team attempt to compare three of the latest hot hatchbacks by subjecting them to a series of challenges during a journey across the Italian Riviera. Clarkson believes he has found the perfect machine in the Citroën DS3 Racing, while May attempts to prove the sincerity of the Renaultsport Clio Cup. Hammond is mocked, however, when he arrives in an Abarth 500C, which is not really a hot hatchback. The team begin by attempting to find out which of them can reach the edge of Lucca the quickest, by traversing a series of extremely skinny and complicated roads. Clarkson manages to get out first, followed by Hammond, however, May gets lost and ends up stuck on top of the city wall. The team must then complete a scavenger hunt in less than six hours, retrieving items from the road-side and shops, without any money being allowed to change hands. Clarkson and May manage to find all of the required items, however, Hammond fails to collect three items: a vine, a CD and a dog. The team then take part in one final challenge, in which they must attempt to set a their fastest lap round the Circuit de Monaco. James is guided by Flavio Briatore, Richard by Christian Horner and Jeremy by Bernie Ecclestone. Jeremy manages to complete the fastest lap. In the studio, Clarkson is declared the winner, compared to Hammond who only scored 5 points. To Hammond's disbelief, May and Clarkson took points off him for every challenge whilst explaining, and clearly making up, rules the producers had not explained in advance of the challenges: Hammond abandoning his car during the Lucca challenge, failing to collect all of the items during the scavenger hunt, although he did post a faster time than May on the Monaco Grand Prix circuit, but was given a 5 point penalty due to bringing a convertible, which Clarkson said the producers said was not allowed, although Clarkson clearly said that only to make sure that Hammond scored 0.

Star In A Reasonably Priced Car: Comedian Ross Noble sets a time of 1:43.5, becoming the second fastest man on the leaderboard.
136 3 Series 17, Episode 3 McLaren MP4-12C vs Ferrari 458 ItaliaRange Rover Evoque Examine toughness of the Range Rover Evoque in Las Vegas • Second-hand bargains for the price of the Nissan Pixo (Mercedes CL600 & BMW 850Ci) . Sebastian Vettel 10 July 2011 6.55[nb 3]

Review: Jeremy reviews the McLaren MP4-12C and its main supercar rival, the Ferrari 458 Italia. He praised the comfort, the handling, and the build quality of the Mclaren, but dislikes the lack of joy when he drove it. On the track, it managed to set a blistering lap time of 1:16.2, only 1.1 seconds slower than Ariel Atom 500 and 0.6 seconds faster than a 1,184 bhp Bugatti Veyron Super Sport.

News: The trio discuss the effects that the London 2012 Olympics will have on motoring, suggesting that new cars will need to be built in time for the games in order to make the British public safe from 'Foreign Tourists'. They also ask the point of being in a car owner's club, with Clarkson claiming that standing in car parks admiring other people's cars is simply sad and a waste of time.

Feature: James travels to the American state of Nevada to test the sustainability of the Range Rover Evoque. He attempts to drive the car through Death Valley, testing aspects such as the car's suspension, on-board equipment and ability to sustain a soft ride on all terrain. He also attempts to reach an appointment to chauffeur megastar Cher across Las Vegas, however, is disappointed when it turns out to be a male Cher impersonator, named Steve.

Challenge: Jeremy and Richard attempt to find the best second-hand bargains for the same price as Britain's cheapest new car, the £6,995 Nissan Pixo. Clarkson finds a nine-year-old Mercedes CL 600, whereas Hammond opts for a seventeen-year-old BMW 850Ci. The duo ponder the fact that both have V12 engines, many equipment features, and luxurious interiors. The pair decide to road test both vehicles, to see which one has the better handling. They then compete in a drag race, before placing both cars on a rolling road to see how much power they have lost. They then have the cars forensically examined, to find traces of what happened in the car before they owned it.

After the film, James is dismayed that anyone would purchase a used luxury car when they could instead buy a reliable car still under warranty. When Richard informs him that they have actually bought these cars (not merely borrowed them for the show), James bets all of his hair that one of the cars will break down within 2 weeks.

F1 Star In A Reasonably-Priced Car: Reigning Formula 1 world champion Sebastian Vettel sets a time of 1:44.0 in the old Suzuki Liana, becoming not only the fastest ever Formula 1 driver but also the fastest person to ever do a lap.
137 4 Series 17, Episode 4 Jaguar XKR-SNissan GT-R Make a train out of a specially modified car and caravans as carriages. • Jeremy Clarkson compares the Jaguar XKR-S against the Nissan GT-R Rowan Atkinson 17 July 2011 7.14[nb 4]

Review: Jeremy reviews the Jaguar XKR-S. He likes the speed, the handling, and especially the noise it made, but dislikes the styling, the hard ride, and its £97,000 price tag, saying that Jag had sacrificed all of its core value for the pursuit of speed. He then reviewed the 2012 Nissan GT-R, praising the speed and the handling of it, and the fact that it costs £69,000 and more practical than the Jag. On the test track the XKR-S sets a lap time of 1:23.3, while the revised GT-R managed to set 1:17.8, just as fast as Pagani Zonda Roadster F Clubsport and 2 seconds faster than the old GT-R.

News: Before the news proper, James takes a moment to tout the virtues of the Nissan GT-R’s launch control. This prompts Jeremy to declare launch control to be the stupidest thing to have on a car today. After some debate it is revealed that of the three, James is the only one who has a car with the feature. Jeremy goes on to declare night vision a worthless feature – as it doesn’t work when you turn the car’s headlights off. Segueing into the main body of the news, there is a new Range Rover Sport with a "Say what you see" function (also worthless in Jeremy’s opinion). There is a new version of the Abarth Punto Esseesse – essentially a hot hatchback that comes with the SS kit in a wooden box that the buyer can keep. This raises Jeremy’s hackles, but Richard confesses that he struggles throwing boxes away because of their potential. Finally, James asks Jeremy and Richard if the used cars they bought in the previous episode have broken down or not. Richard says his BMW 850Ci has not broken down but, after some evasion, Jeremy admits that the ignition coil of his Mercedes CL 600 needs replacing, and with labour costs, will end up costing him £1,200.

Challenge: Clarkson, Hammond and May try to find a cheaper alternative to expensive carriage trains. To begin, the trio buy a classic 1980s Jaguar XJ-S convertible, and take it to the Top Gear Technology Centre, where they fit it with special train-track wheels. They also build carriages out of caravans, with each one represent a different carriage of a regular train - First Class, The Buffet Car, Second Class, and "Scum Class". They test the train, only to find that the Jaguar does not generate enough traction to pull the carriages. While arguing over the solution, Clarkson suggests that they instead build a "Sports Train", with only one carriage, while May and Hammond suggest they buy a new carrier vehicle. The team split, and May and Hammond return with a 4WD Audi S8, and secure the already built caravan carriages to the car. Meanwhile, Clarkson has instead built a new four-man carriage to fit to the back of the Jaguar. With both trains ready, the trio decide to race each other's trains to Loughborough train station. Both teams encounter problems, however, when Clarkson finds himself stuck behind Hammond and May, and after a faux pas with the Buffet Car, Hammond and May find their train burning down.

Star In A Reasonably-Priced Car: Comedian Rowan Atkinson previews his new film Johnny English Reborn, as well as talking about the prototype V16 engine used in the film's Rolls-Royce Phantom, as well as his McLaren F1 and his love for the Honda NSX. Rowan sets a time of 1:42.2, becoming the fastest man to lap the circuit in the Kia Cee'd.
138 5 Series 17, Episode 5 Lotus T125Jensen Interceptor Demolish a house with second-hand military equipment vs demolition experts Bob Geldof 24 July 2011 6.13[nb 5]

Feature: Jeremy tests a new and updated version of the classic Jensen Interceptor, only to discover himself driving back into a time characterised by leather driving gloves and droopy moustaches. He decides that the Interceptor has never been given enough TV recognition, and in light of his recent discovery, enlists the help of Hammond and May to create a title sequence for a new 'classic' TV show, "The Interceptors", which is styled like a parody of 1970s action/adventure series such as The Persuaders! and Department S. In the title sequence, the three are shown driving various Interceptors, and are credited as "James Steed", "Roger St. Hammond" and "Jason Clarkson".

Review: Jeremy reviews Lotus' new purpose-built Formula 1-inspired track car, the T125. Jean Alesi coached him on driving the T125 effectively, however Clarkson lacked the reaction time to drive the Lotus to its fullest extent. He demonstrated the difference between the reactions needed to drive the T125 compared with a street-legal vehicle, his own Mercedes-Benz CLK63 AMG Black, saying that in order to enter the Hammerhead corner he would have to start braking at 140 metres out, but braking at the same distance with the T125, it would stop about 60 metres before the entry point of the corner. The T125 was unable to set a lap time due to inclement weather.

News: The team discuss the fact that they will be cut short for live coverage of the Moto GP race at 10:00pm. Clarkson purposely extends conversations, and rabbits on to May about things unrelated to the show, saying "Top Gear is more important than bike racing. Nobody likes it, anyway." Clarkson mocked the new £41,000 Mini Inspired by Goodwood, then comparing it to a £43,000 Aston Martin Cygnet & Colette, which the team also mocks. Towards the end of the news, Clarkson reviews more 'bird dirt' incidents, reflecting on pictures sent to him by the public.

Challenge: The boys are challenged by a group of professional demolishers to knock down a row of derelict houses zoned for demolition, in less time than it would take them to do the same. In preparation, the team travel to Albania to have a practice run, however, their demolition machinery fails to really have much impact. Upon their return to England, the trio travel to a military surplus yard to buy heavy-duty machinery to complete the job. Hammond purchases an FV434 armoured recovery vehicle that has been retro-fitted for combat engineers, James an FV180 Combat Engineer Tractor (CET) that can be used as a battering-ram, and Jeremy an Armtrac 400 mine-clearing vehicle. As the team begin the challenge, things do not go well. Hammond's attempts to tear the roofs from the houses with a harpoon cannon only succeeds in dragging a portable toilet over the houses, while May's efforts to batter the houses in submission ends up trapping Hammond and his tank inside a collapsed house. Meanwhile, Clarkson is using the remote-control feature of his mine-clearing vehicle and loses control, mangling a car and rupturing a buried water main. In an attempt to catch up to the professionals, Clarkson plants explosives inside the chimney breasts of the houses. However, he fails to use enough explosives, and only manages to "blow the bloody door off". Finally, the trio resort to using their vehicles as battering rams, but they only tear two and a half houses down before the professional demolition crew finish.

Star In A Reasonably-Priced Car: Rock star and charity ambassador Bob Geldof sets a time of 1:48.1
139 6 Series 17, Episode 6 Lamborghini Aventador Electric cars for the seaside: (Nissan LeafPeugeot iOn) • Extraordinary rally team of amputee military veterans Louis Walsh 31 July 2011 6.76[nb 6]

Review: Richard reviews the Stockholm Syndrome), while disagreeing with Hammond and May's opinion about the Aventador. It sets a lap time of 1:16.5, only 0.3 seconds slower than the McLaren MP4-12C.

News: The team discuss the new Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Black Series. Richard mocks Jeremy about owning a Black series (CLK63 AMG) and calls the C63 a 'stupid' car. Jeremy shows an advertisement for leathers featured on the back of a 1976 motorcycling magazine, which featured a model resembling James May (even though he was 12 at the time). They also discuss Lewis Hamilton's complaint that the British National Anthem is too short. They compare it to other countries' national anthems. James shares his idea for a shortened 'national anthem'. Jeremy discusses his CLK63 AMG automatic service warning system. The Lotus T125 was brought back to the Test Track to set a lap time. It was driven by The Stig who, according to Clarkson, requested a softer suspension and softer tyres for his lap. The V8 T125 made it around the circuit in 1:03.8, just 4.8 seconds slower than the V10 Renault R24 driven in series 5, episode 8.

Challenge: Jeremy and James are given the task of taking two new electrically powered cars, the Nissan Leaf and Peugeot iOn, on a trip to the seaside. They test the length of time it takes before each car runs out of juice, and find out how easy (or hard) it is to find a place to recharge. While waiting for them to recharge in Lincoln, they take guided tours of several historic attractions around the city, where they discover the electric car was a concept that was thought about much longer ago than they first imagined.

Feature: Richard meets the world's most extraordinary rally team, called Race2Recovery, which is made up entirely of war amputees. He watches them prepare for a race at Silverstone, before becoming part of the team for a race at Snetterton Park in Norfolk. He questions members of the team on the problems they encounter due to their disabilities, and asks what inspired them to become part of a rally team. He also sets the team up to be coached by Ben Collins, acknowledging Bens role as The Stig in previous seasons.

Star In A Reasonably-Priced Car: Louis Walsh makes his first appearance in the reasonably priced car, and posts a time of 1:47.7.


  1. ^ Transmission – BBC Top Gear Top Gear Series 17: starts 26 June «
  2. ^
  1. ^ 5.27 million on BBC Two, 950,000 on BBC HD.
  2. ^ 4.84 million on BBC Two, 880,000 on BBC HD.
  3. ^ 5.41 million on BBC Two, 1.14 million on BBC HD.
  4. ^ 6.07 million on BBC Two, 1.07 million on BBC HD.
  5. ^ 5.01 million on BBC Two, 1.12 million on BBC HD.
  6. ^ 5.68 million on BBC Two, 1.08 million on BBC HD.
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