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WATCH: Top Gear returns! Here's all the crazy stunts and amazing cars to look forward to this season

2019-03-10 15:00
Top Gear S26 2019

Image: BBC

Top gear returns for another epic season in March 2019.

Five hour-long episodes see the Top Gear team discovering the very best supercar alternatives to the traditional family estate car from Ferrari and Porsche, racing to the top of a mountain in a pair of the smallest 4x4’s in the UK, risking life and limb in Tuk-Tuk’s across Sri-Lanka on both land and sea.

Filmed in locations including Norway, Sri Lanka and Spain, expect Top Gear’s trademark array of stunning photography, state-of-the-art supercars and celebrity guests on track in Top Gear’s Reasonably Fast Car.

The stars - Chris Harris

Chris Harris joined the Top Gear presenting line-up in 2016 for Series 23. He is probably best known for his popular YouTube channel, Chris Harris on Cars which he launched in 2014, and established with the help of long-time friend Neil Carey.

Chris currently presents the online car review series Chris Harris Drives for topgear.com. Chris began his career in motoring journalism at UK-based Autocar magazine, becoming their official road-test editor.

He started a website for fast cars the week Lehman Brothers went under in 2008, which obviously ended badly. He then looked to solve his new-found indebtedness at Evo magazine and then became a member of the Pistonheads.com crew, as well as a regular feature on YouTube’s DRIVE channel.

Top Gear S26 2019

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Rory Reid

Rory Reid joined the Top Gear presenting line-up in 2016 for Series 23 after winning a public audition for the role. Rory is an award-winning journalist of eighteen years specialising in cars.

Rory has written and presented for the likes of CNET UK, where he launched the company’s popular Car Tech channel, receiving a prestigious Association of Online Publishers (AOP) award for ‘Best Use of Video’ in the process.

Rory has featured in a number of car-focused television shows and had a starring role in the Gadget Geeks series on Sky 1, where he reviewed cars and consumer tech. He was also a presenter on the hugely successful Fast Furious & Funny YouTube channel.

Full episode guide below:

Episode One Synopsis – Sunday, 10 March on BBC Brit (DStv channel120) at 17:30

I Like big boots and I cannot lie

What’s the best new family estate car on the market? According to the Top Gear producers, it’s the very competent, very spacious, very practical Skoda Superb.

But Matt and Chris reckoned there were a couple of better solutions to the family estate car question. Namely the 208mph Ferrari GTC4 Lusso, and the 190mph Porsche Panamera Turbo Sport Turismo.Sure, they might cost a combined, um, £350,000, but they’ve both got boots, they’ve both got proper rear seats, they’re both four-wheel drive.

How much more practicality do you need?So to prove just how sensible and family-ish their Ferrari and Porsche really are, Chris and Matt headed to the fjords of Norway for a nice sensible road trip. Incorporating chainsaws, tunnels, BASE jumpers, and a strangely persistent Viking.

The Suzuki that went up a hill and (hopefully) came down a mountain 

There are precisely 120 mountains in Britain. This, according to Rory Reid, is simply not enough mountains. Why, if you made a New Year’s resolution to climb one every day, you’d be (a) really quite tired, really quite quickly, and (b) done by May! So Rory, ever the dedicated patriot, set out to build Britain a whole new mountain, using nothing more than his bare hands, a load of rocks and the new Suzuki Ignis.

Unfortunately he’d be racing for the honour of crowning Britain’s newest mountain, against the established king of the tiny-4x4-city-car-thing market, the Fiat Panda Cross. Driven by Sabine Schmitz, a lady with no qualms about smashing a small Fiat – or indeed a medium-sized Rory – into tiny pieces in pursuit of victory.

Top Gear S26 2019

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Episode Two Synopsis – Sunday, 17 March on BBC Brit (DStv channel 120) at 17:30

Versa-tuk-tuk-tility

What’s the most versatile vehicle on the planet? According to Matt LeBlanc, it’s the good ol’ pick-up truck, the American icon that’ll do the school run, help you move house, and do a spot of loggin’ and huntin’ for good measure.

But according to Chris Harris, the most versatile car in the world is something rather tinier. Specifically it’s the humble tuk-tuk, the three-wheeled motorised rickshaw that ferries much of Asia about its daily life.

And to prove to our sceptical American just how very multi-faceted the tiny tuk-tuk is, Chris volunteered to take Matt on a road trip across its natural habitat: Sri Lanka. And what better way to demonstrate versatility than with a race across a tea plantation? And a polo match? And an ascent of Sri Lanka’s most notorious mountain track? And crossing a medium-sized ocean?

Better than the train

The government has a plan to speed up business in Britain. It’s called HS2, a high-speed train line between London and the North, and is expected to cost about 56 billion pounds Chris Harris has a much cheaper plan to speed up business in Britain.

Two plans, in fact: the new BMW M5 and the new Mercedes-AMG E63. A brace of ridiculously fast business saloons that’ll get you from London to Manchester quicker than the Government’s shiny new train.

Assuming you’re allowed to break a few speed limits along the way, which we’re pretty sure they’ll be fine about. But which of these two German super-saloons is the ultimate answer to Britain’s business woes? To find out, Chris proposed a little race. Him in the Mercedes, with the BMW to be driven by... Business Stig.

Episode Three Synopsis – Sunday, 24 March on BBC Brit (DStv channel 120) at 17:30

Two for the price of one

Reviewing a new car has, traditionally, been a solitary task. One presenter, sat behind the wheel, telling you what he, or she, thinks of said car. But the Top Gear producers, in their infinite wisdom, thought it might be funny to find out what happens when you tell two presenters to review the same, single car.

At the same time. So Matt and Chris were told both to head to Spain and review the new 200-mile-an-hour Bentley Continental GT. Two presenters, one car. And, apart from the occasional actual physical fight, it all went surprisingly well. At least until Chris decided to spice things up by inviting along a Le Mans-winning race car for good measure.

Fear the reapera

few years back, Porsche made a car called the 911 GT2 RS. It was very fast, very powerful, very scary and immediately christened ‘The Widowmaker’.

Now, Porsche is back with a new 911 GT2 RS, which is faster and much more powerful than the old Widowmaker.So just how damn scary is it? Chris Harris pops some brave pills and takes to the Top Gear track to find out, with the help of some truly biblical weather conditions, and the patented Top Gear Fearometer 3000: a new-fangled gadget that quantifies panic by measuring the emissions of the driver...

French miss

Renault’s back catalogue contains some of the finest, maddest hot hatches of all. Daft, bewinged creations with all the subtlety of a rhinoceros in a particularly loud Hawaiian shirt. Now there’s a new flagship Renault hot hatch out – the Megane RS – but Rory’s worried it’s all gone a bit... sensible.

So he set out to see if the new car has that old Renault craziness beneath the surface... with the aid of some leftover scraps of cardboard, and a roll of duct tape. He’s thorough like that.

Top Gear S26 2019

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Episode Four Synopsis – Sunday, 31 March on BBC Brit (DStv channel 120) at 17:30

The aristocars

The cheapest new car you can buy in the UK is the Dacia Sandero. It costs a very reasonable six thousand pounds* (at the time of filming), and is a very reasonable car. But, reckoned our presenters, for that sort of money, you can have something with so much more character. Heritage. Pedigree.

So, each armed with a budget of six grand, Matt, Chris and Rory each set out to buy a car of genuinely aristocratic bearing. Something from the likes of Rolls-Royce.

Bentley. Mercedes-Benz.Purchases secured – purchases that, in some instances, even moved under their own steam – our presenters were told to report the Top Gear test track for a series of challenges. Against the Sandero. Driven by The Stig. Who, it’s fair to say, isn’t a great fan of budget Romanian hatchbacks.

And, as if that wasn’t enough to kill their ‘classics’ once and for all, there was then the small matter of a six-hour endurance race at Silverstone. Cue one of Top Gear’s most car-punishing films of recent times.

Episode Five Synopsis – Sunday, 7 April on BBC Brit (DStv channel 120) at 17:30

Simply the best?

Manufacturers love to make bold claims about their latest creations – the fastest, the cheapest, the most economical – but here’s a doozy. Rolls-Royce claims that it’s new £360,000 Phantom is nothing less than ‘the best car in the world’.

So, reckoned Rory, if it really is the best car in the world, it’s got to be the best at doing absolutely everything, right? To find out if it indeed was, Rory subjected the new Phant to a thorough, and thoroughly British road test. By diligently canvassing the opinion of some Londoners, and some Instagrammers, and some cows.

Top Gear S26 2019

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As British as Queen Victoria

Unless you’re talking ‘bulldog wearing top hat and Union Jack waistcoat, woofing the national anthem from atop Buckingham Palace’, you can’t get more British than an Aston Martin, right?Not so right.

Because the new Aston Martin V8 Vantage is powered by a Mercedes engine, and borrows lots of other clever Mercedes bits to help it go faster. And if you want a two-seat sports car with lots of German bits, you could always have a Mercedes-AMG GT. Same price, same power, fully German.

So German-Brit or German-German? Matt LeBlanc heads out on the Top Gear test track to decide.

Small car versus supercar

The new Ford Fiesta ST is a very good little car. But is it better than a £300,000, 700 horsepower Lamborghini Aventador? Well, according to Chris Harris, yes, yes it is.

To prove his point, Chris took the very affordable Fiesta and the very unaffordable Lamborghini on a big trip across wales Wales. And up through a particularly narrow multi-storey car park, because it’s a proper consumer test. And around a race track, because it’s Chris Harris.

Top Gear S26 2019
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