Top Gear's back, but was it on top?

Posted on 30 May 2016 by CarTakeBack

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So last weekend was the start of the new look Top Gear on the BBC. After the, ahem, sudden departure of Clarkson and co, Chris Evans stepped up to the plate, along with Matt LeBlanc as his co-presenter.

The show met mixed reviews online. Used to the rapport between Clarkson, May and Hammond, many people felt the chemistry between the two main presenters, Chris Evans and Matt LeBlanc, fell flat. There was plenty of motoring action and entertainment though, and there are calls for viewers to give the show some slack. After all, it was the presenters' first episode together.

The new presenters of Top Gear step up a gear

For those of you that haven't caught the first episode yet (or just need a recap), here's what you missed:

The first cars out of the blocks were a Dodge Viper ACR and a Corvette Z06. The show created a dog fight with missile launchers (not live, of course) between the two super cars, with Chris taking on Sabine Schmitz at the wheel. Both drivers had a top gun gunman in their passenger seat to operate the missiles. The first one to lock on to their opponent wins!
Chris won after a sneaky sudden break so that Sabine barrelled past him, and he was able to give chase.
However, some may say that Sabine is the real winner here. Her speed and agility on the track made her top gunner sick! That's some achievement considering they are used to being flown about in fighter jets.

There was a strong US vs UK theme throughout the show.

First, LeBlanc and Evans took two Reliant Rialtos, painted up in their national flags, to Blackpool. Matt's car didn't last very long, and he ended up making most of the journey up to the seaside town in the pouring rain on the back of a recovery truck. We collect plenty of scrap cars, and not once have we taken a passenger along for the ride on the flatbed. Looking at Matt's unpleasant experience, we won't be trying it any time soon!

Reliant Rialtos driven by Matt LeBlanc and Chris Evans

Continuing with the US vs UK theme, Chris and Matt took part in a tug of war on Blackpool beach, with the help of a British Land Rover, an American Jeep, and some burley rugby and American football players. Surprise surprise, as the cars pulled against each other, their wheels dug deeper and deeper into the sand and got stuck. No winners there then.

To round off the US vs UK challenge, the pair had to drag their now rather tired Reliants up one of the Lake District crags using the Land Rover and the Jeep. Yes, the challenge was as difficult as it sounds!

The star in a reasonably priced car segment was back, with a newly built rallycross track section, rather than the full tarmac circuit from previous series. The rally sections were designed with the help of off-road champion, Liam Doran. The low grip components of the course was described as scary to drive because it made the tyres slippery and the car difficult to handle - All the more fun for us to watch!
There is the inclusion of a rally water splash to make the car extra muddy, followed by a tarmac hammer head - then back to the dirt rally for a hair pin bend (which requires a handbrake turn if you want to keep your time down) and a jump - the aim is to get some air! The celebs hit the jump at around 50mph, as long as they aren't dawdling.

You'll be happy to hear that the BBC won custody of The Stig! He had a go at the new track too. Of course, he smashed it.

Star in a car takes a Mini Cooper out for a drive on the Top Gear race track

Matt LeBlanc also took the Devon built Ariel Nomad for a spin in the desert. The "open air" feel of this doorless, roofless speedy car was highlighted as Matt got covered in dust!

A new inclusion to the Top Gear family is Extra Gear on BBC Three Online, where two new presenters get behind the scenes and the nitty gritty of the cars' specs. They also welcomed a guest, comedian Chris Ramsey, who discussed his rather blinged up current car, a BMW X5, as well as his knackered first car, a modded Renault Clio, which at the time he thought was the bee's knees!

We think Extra Gear seemed to gel better than the main show, and is well worth a watch. Getting used to the changes to the show may take a while, but we'll certainly be tuning in to the next episodes to see how it progresses.

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