Who better to critique the controversial new post-Clarkson series of Top Gear than a renowned New Zealand car lover and car crusher?
The Spinoff asked me, as a bit of a petrolhead, to write about the new Top Gear. So I watched it. I sort of love cars. To me, they are the ultimate in freedom. Cars can go anywhere, anytime, anyhow. They don’t keep to timetables and they don’t always do what they’re told.
I used to like the original Top Gear. Sometimes. Just occasionally, I’d think that the plot had been lost and it all became about the presenters.
So, I did it. I watched the new Top Gear. Somewhere along the way, my SkyGo told me that too many people were accessing my SkyGo and I probably missed the bit in the middle of the first show.
Much has been said about the new British host, Chris Evans, being too shouty. He’s reported to have said he will do it more. Please don’t, Chris. It’s very difficult to take over from such a successful team as Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May. It is so difficult and I salute those who try. But please, don’t be “shouty”. I don’t like “shouty” and I really don’t think many watchers will disagree with me.
As someone who loves cars, I want to see cars. I want to know what it feels like to drive these cars. I want obtainable cars or even just-not-quite-obtainable.
So, the cars. There was the Dodge Viper ACR with a Wing that seems almost as big as the car. The other car was a Corvette Z06. These are serious muscle cars with what seemed to be quite old technology and I quite liked that one of the drivers was Sabine Schmitz, who managed to make a Top Gun pilot unwell. I’m not quite sure what the Top Gun pilots were doing there but they seemed to just add ballast. The chase between the two cars and drivers was quite fun.
What I didn’t really care for was the UK/US rivalry. Everything seemed to be about that. Actually, I’m not sure anyone cares much. Certainly, not outside of the US or the UK.
I have no idea why this trans-Atlantic rivalry extended to both Chris Evans and the United States’ Matt LeBlanc each driving a three wheeled car called a “Reliant”. On the subject of three-wheel cars, there is only one thing to say: WHY? That part almost lost me and I’m fairly sure, not many people would have stayed to watch more unless they, too, had been asked to write a review.
The UK/US rivalry then extended into a classic Land Rover vs Jeep competition. Since the vehicles seemed to have World War II technology and both performed about the same, I’m not sure that was riveting either.
In essence, I’d like to see more cars, as in cars people actually drive. That’s what viewers of Top Gear watch it for. It’s not about the presenters. It’s not about the music. It’s not about shouting. It’s not about some UK/US rivalry. We watch it for the cars. Just cars.
Judith Collins is writing neither as Minister of Police nor Minister of Corrections but in her capacity as a petrolhead.