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Speed Week 2023

Finding the best performance car of 2023: Top Gear's Speed Week is here

Everything you need to know about Top Gear magazine's annual festival of fast… including how we went green(er) in 2023

Published: 04 Oct 2023

Speed Week is Top Gear magazine's annual performance car of the year test. A gathering of the greatest fast cars launched within the last 12 months, brought together in one place (this year it’s the Gotlandring track in Sweden, but it could be anywhere in the world) for a week of road and track testing, photography and video production and very little sleep. The goal is to separate the great from the merely good and, eventually, pick an overall winner.

Whereas other publications might be laser focused on lap times and performance figures, our judging process is more… organic. We’re looking for all-round ability of course, hence the road and track elements, but the criteria is simple – the winner is the one that brings us the most joy, which is what allows a £300k supercar to compete on a level playing field with a £30k hot hatch.

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This year we posed ourselves an additional question: “Could we make Speed Week a low-carbon event, without compromising on the, y’know, speed?” What followed was a crash course - from a team within the BBC that knows about these things - in sustainability, or more specifically how to avoid the many and varied pitfalls of claiming to be green, when you're anything but.

You see, finding high-quality carbon offsets can be a bit of a minefield and simply getting the event rubber stamped by a third party isn’t the way to go. Far better to scrutinise our own plans, to take a long hard look at the event and make efforts to reduce our carbon footprint wherever possible, within the real-world constraints of time, budget and technology.

We purchased CO2 offsets from the airline for 16 return flights from London to Visby… before learning that in line with strict carbon accounting these weren’t submissible, so the flights couldn’t be deducted from our tCO2e (a unit that takes into account all greenhouse gases emitted and their global warming potential, and puts it into one easy unit) total. Damn.

We sent 12 of the 15 contenders to Sweden on a pair of Scania transporter trucks capable of running on HVO (Hydro-treated Vegetable Oil). We ran all the combustion engine cars on Sustain Classic Super 80 biofuel, supplied to us by Coryton. All the energy used to charge the EV contenders came from entirely renewable sources, specifically the energy produced on-site at the Gotland Ring by seven wind turbines. In the spirit of using locally-sourced ingredients we procured electric CAKE bikes and plug-in Volvos as our photography support vehicles… and self-catered, with mixed results.

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You can pore over the calculations in full in the latest issue of the magazine, but the take-home was this: it’s not an exact science, many lessons were learned for how to reduce our footprint in the future, but we proved it’s possible to still enjoy the cars we all love, while treading a little lighter on our planet.

Stay tuned to for more Speed Week updates

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