What did we learn from Top Gear episode 3, season 22? Plenty, as it happens. Clarkson, Hammond and May were tasked with one of the toughest conundrums facing this country: how to improve the NHS. Well, not all of it, just the bit with wheels and an engine: the ambulance.
As if that wasn’t enough, Top Gear episode 3 tackled the thorny issue of the national speed limit and the stopping distances given in the Highway Code. Less controversial was news of a new Ferrari, while faithful Top Gear fans will have welcomed the sight of a Suzuki Liana drifting all four skinny tyres around the test track, as Daniel Ricciardo set out to prove that he’s the fastest F1 driver on the grid. Here’s what went on…
Reinventing the ambulance isn’t easy
Richard Hammond knows a thing or two about ambulances. In 2006, the presenter suffered serious injuries after a tyre exploded on a jet-powered car he was driving, causing it to veer off a runway and flip over at more than 200mph. Perhaps with this in mind, the Top Gear team decided to give the ambulance a makeover. The results confirmed what most of us already know: firing patients out of the back door on a nitrous oxide-propelled bed will only result in low patient survival rates. So let’s all be thankful that the NHS is run by professionals rather than three bungling buffoons.
What’s not to like about the Ferrari 488 GTB?
Pity James May. As an owner of a Ferrari 458 Italia, it gave his co-presenters a great deal of satisfaction to point out that his car will be “worthless”, after Ferrari announced its replacement, the new 488 GTB.
What’s so special about the 488 GTB? Two things: a turbocharger for the V8 engine and, er, another turbocharger for the V8. This is not a first for Ferrari – the F40 of the late 1980s was turbocharged, as is the recently introduced California T – but purists who like nothing better than to go to the pub and have a good old moan about the price of progress will be frothing at the mouth about the turbocharged 488 GTB.
It’s astonishingly powerful (661bhp at 8,000rpm) and goes like the proverbial rocket (0-60mph in three seconds, says Ferrari) but will it be anywhere near as thrilling to drive as a 458 Italia, a car that thrived on being revved to 9,000rpm? Over to you, James May…
Top Gear applies its logic to the Highway Code’s recommended stopping distances
According to the Highway Code, the typical stopping distance for a car travelling at 70mph is 315 feet. Jeremy Clarkson isn’t happy about this. He believes it is flawed, because the rules and regulations are “full of stupidity and factual inaccuracies” and asks whether a Ford Anglia was used for the tests.
To make his point, Clarkson handed The Stig a sensible Vauxhall Insignia and instructed him to set about working out what speed you’d need to be travelling at to take 315 feet to stop? The answer: 122mph.
Daniel Ricciardo: the fastest driver in Formula One
He came, he saw, he conquered. The smiliest man in Formula One proved that he is also the fastest, setting the quickest lap time yet recorded at the wheel of the mighty Suzuki Liana. The car may look like its natural environment is Worthing seafront, but around the Top Gear test track it can be a real handful, as cutting every tenth of a second calls for total commitment. Ricciardo delivered exactly that, bouncing his away across the finish line in 1 minute 42.2 seconds, and knocking Lewis Hamilton (the F1 world champion, remember) off the top spot. Ricciardo came third in the 2014 F1 Drivers’ Championship. Can he and Red Bull Racing improve for 2015?
You too could drive a Suzuki Liana like Daniel Ricciardo, Lewis Hamilton and Nigel Mansell
The Liana saloon is not an easy car to track down. But I managed to find a 2004 model with just 33,000 miles on the clock priced at a thoroughly sensible £1,590. That doesn’t sound like a lot of money to pay to own the same car that has seen the likes of Lewis Hamilton, Mark Webber, Sebastian Vettel, Nigel Mansell, Jenson Button and Damon Hill battle to get to grips with. So book a track driving day at the legendary Top Gear test track in Surrey, take along your 1.6-litre Liana, set the stop watch and give it your best shot to top the F1 Driver Laps board…