Top Gear TV: here's your full series 31 preview
Paddy, Freddie and Chris return with a fresh tranche of automotive japery
The nights are closing in, the scent of woodsmoke hangs heavy ‘pon the breeze, we’ve just had the big argument about which way the clocks go in the big BST/GMT switchover: it’s time for a new series of Top Gear to wend its way towards your telly-box!
Yes, Paddy, Freddie and Chris are back with a fresh tranche of automotive japery, going faster, further and, um, foolhardier than ever before in the name of ‘testing cars, apparently’.
It all kicks off on Sunday 14 November on BBC One at 8pm. Be there! Or watch it on iPlayer! Or maybe both!Advertisement - Page continues below
WHAM, BAM, CAR-A-VAN
The humble caravan. Though an unquestionably practical holidaying option – not least in these strange, socially distanced times – there’s no denying it does suffer a bit of an image problem, an image problem possibly exacerbated by certain irresponsible BBC motoring shows.
But let’s not get hung on who, exactly, is to blame for caravanning’s beige, boring image. All that matters is, it’s time to drag the old girl kicking and screaming into the 21st century. Get ready, comrades, for a caravanning revolution, as Paddy, Freddie and Chris each choose their favourite of the new breed of micro-caravans – tiny, perfectly formed travel pods – to hook up to a new electric SUV: specifically the Mercedes EQC, Audi e-tron Sportback and Polestar 2, at least one of which – let’s be honest – isn’t really an SUV at all.
Each armed with a rig that should, in theory, deliver them to a scenic pitch anywhere in the country in clean, green, zero-emissions comfort, our revolutionaries set out to discover if their ‘sports caravans of the future’ can do the caravanning do, with a traditional camping trip in the wilds of Northumberland. A trip that, inevitably, involved being pushed down a big hill in a massive inflatable orb, and eating several of the world’s hottest chillies while attempting to do hot laps around some moorland. As we said, traditional camping trip.
ONCE YOU’VE HAD TRACK YOU’LL NEVER GO BACK
The steady stream of happy gurgling noises from the Top Gear office indicates that there’s a new 911 GT3 out. The wingy, zingy Porsche is, no question, a truly top-tier trackday special… but what if you want a trackday special that’s not got a Porsche badge on the front, or indeed the rear, or indeed anywhere at all? To answer this at-least-occasionally-asked consumer question, please welcome Team Top Gear, bearing an Alfa Giulia GTAm, Aston Vantage F1 Edition and McLaren 765LT. Day, office, tough, etc.
Now, obviously there was only one way to test this trio of trackday specials: with a trackday. Slightly less obviously, the track chosen by the Top Gear producers was ‘Silverstone', and the day chosen by the Top Gear producers was ‘British Grand Prix race weekend’. How would Team Top Gear fare against a trio of the fastest drivers on the planet: Lando Norris, Sebastian Vettel and Antonio Giovinazzi? Well, obviously they’d lose, because F1 drivers are F1 drivers, and Team Top Gear is two middle-aged men from Lancashire and a middle-aged man from Bristol. But just how badly would they lose?Advertisement - Page continues below
THAT’S WHY CHUMS STOP AT ICELAND
With the world finally, slowly emerging from collective house arrest, it seemed time for a big international Top Gear expedition. And there was only one place for it: Iceland. Partly because of Iceland’s extraordinary, rugged landscape. But also because it was basically the only place we could go without having to quarantine for a month on arrival. So, with destination set, the presenters picked some second-hand, broadly unsuitable British cars, and struck out to conquer Iceland’s wild interior.
And so it was that an elegant (though not entirely mechanically sound) Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow, and a Vauxhall Chevette (which really didn’t contain many Vauxhall Chevette bits at all), came to find themselves in the land of fire and ice, getting to grips with the local culture by taking part in the traditional Icelandic sport of sand drag racing. And the traditional Icelandic sport of ‘moving really heavy things from one place to another using nothing but brute force’. And the traditional Icelandic sport of ‘eating weird fermented foodstuffs’. And the slightly less traditional Icelandic sport of ‘racing Stig and a monstrous off-road truck to the rim of a volcano’.
OLD CARS FOR NEW DRIVERS
You’ve just passed your driving test. Congratulations! Now you need to spend a small fortune buying, and insuring, a very boring city car. Vauxhall Corsa, Hyundai i20, something like that. Worthy, economical, dull. But could our presenters find affordable, insurable cars for new drivers that are more exciting than a newish Vauxhall Corsa?
Well, yes, turns out they definitely could, because there’s no doubt than an old Lada Niva, old VW Beetle and old MGB GT are more interesting than (and, somewhat unexpectedly, just as insurable) as a newish Vauxhall Corsa. But the big question was, though, would these interesting old bangers survive a ‘so you’ve just passed your driving test’ road trip to the Cornish coast: a trip involving quarry-racing, paint-bombs, and playing ‘driving instructor’ to a trio of newly-qualified 17-year-olds? And the other big question was: why aren’t all cars fitted with dual controls as standard?
A TRIBUTE TO EDDIE
Eddie Kidd was one of the greatest bikers of them all – an impossibly talented, impossibly handsome stunt rider who performed death-defying feats. But a crash in 1996 ended Eddie’s riding career, leaving him with life-changing injuries. Top Gear pays tribute to this British legend in the only way Top Gear knows how: Paddy McGuinness, wearing leathers, leaping through a ring of fire. Plus some rather more talented bikers leaping over trophy trucks in one of the most spectacular stunt shows you’ll ever see.
FRED LEARNS TO RACE
Freddie Flintoff: he’s been a cricketer, a boxer, he’s tackled musical theatre. But now it’s his most terrifying challenge yet: becoming a bona fide racing driver. Can Fred get his race licence in time to team up with Chris for a top-tier endurance race?Advertisement - Page continues below
WHERE WE’RE GOING WE DON’T NEED ROADS
Chris Harris celebrates the fortieth anniversary of Doc Brown’s company car by delving into the extraordinary back-story of the DMC DeLorean: a stranger-than-fiction tale of FBI stings, supermodels, drug deals and time travel…
VICTOR, HE IS MINE!
Paddy gets to grips with the very very expensive, only-one-ever-built Victor, Aston’s Vulcan-based masterpiece. The Vulcan’s owner gets to grips with a very stiff drink.Advertisement - Page continues below
FRED’S LITTLE RED CORVETTE
Is the new, right-hand drive Corvette C8 an American sports car that actually makes sense in the UK? Top Gear’s resident aficionado of Americana, Frederick Flintoff Jnr III, gets hold of Britain’s first RHD Vette in search of answers.
Chris commandeers Silverstone to put the spectacular – and spectacularly childish – track-special Huracán to the test. What depths of track talent lurks under that punchy exterior? Also, what’s the car like?