Until last night, the general feeling towards the 21st season of Top Gear was one of disappointment
. But that's all in the past as last night's fourth episode ditched the scripted tomfoolery (so painfully evident in the first episode) in favour of beautifully shot features, incredible/stunning cars and real emotion. Here's why the episode really struck a chord with proper pterolheads...
May's Caterham feature
First up, James May was doing what he does best, cruising around in an institute of British performance. Caterham is a by-word for lightweight performance, and this film highlighted both ends of the car maker's spectrum.
May first got behind the wheel of the ballistic £50k Caterham 620R
(the name refers to its 620bhp per tonne figure), a kit car that dispatches the 0-60mph sprint in a scarcely believable 2.79sec.
As an antidote to all that power, May then got behind the wheel of the puppy-like, three-pot Caterham 160
, whose £15k price and 80bhp made it the preferred car by Captain Slow.
Alfa Romeo Disco Volante
A Top Gear classic in the making, Jeremy got behind the wheel of the stunning Disco Volante, a sports car built on the Alfa Romeo 8C chassis by Italian coachbuilder Touring.
Magnificent scenery and a beautiful car culminated in a truly awesome film that left social media buzzing. Like the Caterham feature, it was great to see Clarkson let his bullish guard down to make way for an emotion-filled video that we could all relate to. Bravo.
Mercedes Benz 6x6 G63 AMG
When Richard Hammond took the helm of the ridiculous Mercedes 6x6 in Abu Dhabi, it was fantastic to see his quirky sense of humour shining bright.
Testing the 6x6's wading ability courtesy of a local swimming pool was brilliant, but the real review highlights were out in the desert. Huge sand dunes were used as jump ramps and steep inclines made for superb demonstrations of the Merc's dominance of anything that dares get in its way. Couple that with sweeping helicopter shots, high speed cameras and brilliantly massive motors
and you've got one hell of a video feature to be proud of.
The boys are back. Aside from the failed table cloth gag at the end, this was Top Gear truly fulfilling its remit of cool cars, world class footage and the right amount of humour. All we need now is an epic road trip and to find out if the Porsche 918 really can beat the McLaren P1 around Dunsfold.