Episode three of BBC Top Gear is Volvo-shreddingly good

The new season of BBC Top Gear has reached its third episode, and the crew is yet to stumble. This time, there is something to love for both Bond fans and VW GTI fans alike.

The first film of the episode is a classic Top Gear airfield piece with a great inter-dimensional twist. Initially, it's a well-produced clip of Matt LeBlanc analyzing the new Aston Martin DB11, with subtle 007 references, and then it goes into hyperdrive, turning into a chase film with Chris Harris providing some Blofeld cool in a Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG coupé. The jokes again flow easily, and the very expensive metal looks the best driven spiritedly.

As for the celebrity segment, the guest this time is actress Tamsin Greig, who subtly addresses Harris's angry style of track car coaching. Known from the comedy series Green Wing and Episodes, she is a natural counterpart to Matt LeBlanc's jibes, as LeBlanc also stars in the latter show. And there's even time to dispose of a redundant, ruined Volvo, as seen above.

But it's the Golf GTI film that provides the most welcome bit in the episode, as Rory Reid gets behind the wheel of all the GTI generations built so far. Reid reminisces of GTIs gone by, and then takes the new Clubsport S to the legendary Nürburgring where it's put through its paces by track guru Sabine Schmitz, who is returning to the series for the first time this season. It's great to look at Reid having the show to himself for a while, as he's supremely comfortable explaining a car while chucking it around the roads near the 'Ring.

Then it's on to a segment about the Fiat 124 Abarth, but what is there to say about it that hasn't already been said? At least there's excellent footage of LeBlanc driving the classic one around some hairpin curves, addressing the new one's strong points and weaknesses.

So far, the series seems to be a far stronger effort than the Clarkson-Hammond-May counterpart: they didn't quite manage three episodes this solid in a row. Perhaps the comparisons can even be ditched at some point, since both deserve to be evaluated on their own merits.

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