“This car might just be on the cusp of changing everything.” Matt LeBlanc’s Top Gear intro last night didn’t just herald a brave new world in electric cars. It also suggested that the new show had finally turned a corner.
Back then Clarkson, shock horror, actually enjoyed his time in the electric car – until he realised how much it cost and how quickly it would run out of charge. “What we have here is an astonishing technical achievement: the first electric car that you might actually want to buy,” he said. “It’s just a shame that in the real world, it doesn’t seem to work.”
Fast forward to Clarkson-free Top Gear 2016 and Tesla were back with their new car, the Model X, which it is claimed will do 250 miles and charge in as little as 30 minutes.
Rory Reid was completely won over by the new motor and its ‘Ludicrous Mode’, which apparently turns it from family SUV into a drag racer that’s more than a match for even the biggest gas guzzlers.
“Everything changes right now,” Rory said pointedly. “The Model X pushes the reset button.”
Now, the question you have to ask yourself is this: was this an example of new Top Gear embracing new technology in a way that its previous incumbents never would have? Or did it prove how the show has lost its bite, celebrating something new without scrutinising it?
Reid is an easy man to trust. He cares about his cars and he wants to prove his place on Top Gear. Because of the way the new presenting line-up works, he’s also sufficiently distanced from Chris Evans and Matt LeBlanc to speak his mind. If he could live with the Tesla and its family unfriendly price tag of £90,000, then you’re inclined to believe him.
“The future is here, and it’s electric,” he said at the end of the ride. Old Top Gear never would have been so forthright over the future of fuel, even with James May tinkering away at the undercarriage.
Top Gear road tests aren’t what they were in 2008 – most of the audience are far more interested in watching cross-continental races.
But the show still needs to deliver proper motoring knowledge, which is why people like Reid and fellow journalist Chris Harris were given jobs in the first place – to let us know what’s coming round the corner and whether we should be excited.
Sunday’s Tesla road test did just that. The electric future is bright – and it’s good to know Top Gear can finally see the light.