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Top Gear series 25, episode 5: The absolute highlight of the series so far

Top Gear series 25, episode 5

Top Gear is bringing back the fun factor (with a tractor!) this week โ€“ and this episode could be the highlight of the entire series.

After last week’s speed bump, the boys are back on track as the usual introduction โ€“ this time about the balance between exciting innovation and unnecessary, constant tweaks โ€“ takes us almost immediately to Castel del Monte in Abruzzo, Italy, with Matt LeBlanc giving viewers a history lesson on the 70-year-old Piaggio Ape.

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Related: Top Gear‘s 13 best ever celebrity guests ranked

It’s a slow start โ€“ both for the vehicle, which was designed to move through the narrow village streets, and the episode โ€“ but once again Matt’s charisma and charm carries things, especially as we move on to compare it to the 800 horsepower Ferrari 812, which gets a run round the Imola circuit. LeBlanc makes everything look so fun and easy, and it’s fair to say he’s been the shining star of the revamped show.

In a touching moment, there’s a nice tribute to the late Ayrton Senna as Matt drives round the Tamuerllo corner, which is where the driver tragically died during the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix.

Top Gear series 25, episode 5

Back in the studio, the banter’s back with Chris Harris and Matt as they seem to take a sly dig at the competition during their chat about the Ferrari โ€“ known as a “grand tour” โ€“ as they say the name conjures up something “relaxing”, rather than the adrenaline-fuelled speed and excitement of the car.

By this point in the series โ€“ and Top Gear’s life since Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond left โ€“ digs like this are probably fair game, and the new version of the show certainly stands up on its own enough now to justify them.

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Moving on, it’s Rory Reid’s turn as he heads to California to try the Chevrolet Zl1 1Le, which has been banned from Europe thanks to its aerofins. Rory’s excitement at getting to try the forbidden fruit is obvious here, and it gives the segment the same edge his look at Japan’s underground scene earlier this series benefited from.

Top Gear series 25, episode 5

Of course, there’s time for a challenge, this time with Sabine returning for another hilarious cameo as she tries to coach him round the circuit with her trademark rage. Her guest appearances this time round have been simply wonderful โ€“ hopefully there’s more of her next series.

For this week’s Star In A Reasonably Priced car segment, it’s a very sweary Vicky McClure’s turn to race round the track โ€“ although she maybe doesn’t get off to the best start, judging by her reaction to realising she’s driving a manual, not automatic.

McClure’s run round is brilliantly entertaining โ€“ producers have done a great job with guests this time round โ€“ and she even earned herself an extra video package dedicated to her choice language, which is always good for a laugh.

Top Gear series 25, episode 5

As strong as the episode has been until now, it gets taken to a new, ridiculous and utterly insane level for the final segment, as Matt decides to tackle the tractor traffic problem by giving one a bit of a boost.

It’s called the Track-tour (obviously), as Matt jokes: “At least, it was ready. My reaction was alive. And I could not wait to show it off.”

Now, we know Top Gear is about the cars โ€“ but as this series has proven, it’s often at its best when everyone lets loose with a ludicrous idea and has a lot of fun. Well, that’s certainly the case here as Matt and Chris put the vehicle and its 5.6lr Chevrolet V8 engine to the test against a real life Farmer of the Year.

Top Gear series 25, episode 5

We won’t spoil the challenges for you if you haven’t seen the episode, because this is one that really does have to be seen for yourself, and for all the right reasons. What we will say is the Countryfile crossover โ€“ yes, really โ€“ is a legitimate laugh-out-loud moment.

Top Gear has found the fun factor again, and Matt LeBlanc, Chris Harris and Rory Reid look let to drive it into an exciting new era, building on everything that’s gone before while really finding their feet as the future of the show. Bravo, boys!

Top Gear airs on BBC Two, Sundays at 8pm.


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