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Video: behind the scenes on Speed Week

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for Top Gear’s annual performance car of the year issue. Starring the McLaren P1, the Porsche 918, the BMW M4, the Audi S1, the Caterham 160, the Corvette C7, the Porsche Cayman GTS, the Jaguar F-Type R, the VW Golf R, and many more… 

Over to editor-in-chief Charlie Turner for a few words:  

“The automotive industry likes to bombard us with a triple threat of facts, figures and data, with which they hope to prove statistically – by one subtly interpreted metric, at least – that their creation is the best. Makers of fast cars especially love a good set of stats. But this year has seen pretty much every single performance benchmark swept aside by the LaFerrari, McLaren P1 and Porsche 918 Spyder, as their three-way battle for supremacy has rewritten the rule book.

In this issue, we’ve gathered the greatest performance cars of 2014 at the fabulous Castellolí circuit to the west of Barcelona. A gathering that not only brings the P1 and 918 face to face for the first time anywhere in the world, but also creates an eye-watering set of figures: a combined value of £2,795,430, with 99 cylinders and 53,140cc developing a total of 7,221bhp and 6,388lb ft of torque. Basically a stat-driven and complicated way of saying this was clearly the greatest set of cars we’ve ever assembled for Top GearSpeed Week.

But figures can be misleading, and open to creative interpretation. They’re also cold, lacking in emotion and, while they continue to become increasingly fantastical, they’re only part of the story. No set of statistics can ever put a smile on your face (unless in bar room Top Trumps), or deliver that infectious mixture of speed, emotion and feedback that transforms a set of figures from pure maths to pure emotion. It’s that stuff that puts a car into a different league.

It’s that elusive quality, that visceral response to a car – The Fizz, as James would call it – that all of us who work on (and who read)Top Gear magazine are looking for, especially in performance cars. Which is why, while we love to play the numbers game, no car will ever rate highly in Top Gear’s Speed Week based on pure data alone.

As the week’s exhaustive – and occasionally mildly fiery – testing continued, and The Stig vaporised another set of tyres in the name of research, the mathematics and statistics took a back seat. And that’s when The Fizz side of the equation began to dominate, in what has proved to be the greatest performance car battle in Top Gear history…”


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