Top Gear - Something Missing?

Discussion in 'Off-Topic Chat' started by Thirteen Ball, Apr 24, 2008.

  1. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    I've been watching a fair bit of top gear on On-Demand TV recently, and I love the show. I think it's funny, informative, well put together and all around enjoyable...

    But Jeremy Clarkson is annoying me horrendously

    And for once it’s not because he’s a bike-hater. (What’s the problem Jezza? Can’t keep up? :tongue: )

    No – this time it’s because, having watched a lot of Top Gear in recent times, it’s obvious the man has not the faintest clue what he’s talking about when it comes to engines, power outputs etc. yet is considered to be the voice of the nation in all matters motoring-related.

    Oh yes he can spout back all the figures, but he obviously doesn't know what they mean.

    Speaking about the current power war between Mercedes and BMW:

    “Nobody actually knows what a torque is…”

    Actually mate – lots of people do. Torque is the measurement of turning force of a rotating shaft – either measured in pound-feet – abbreviated to lb/ft or newton-metres. Generally speaking, even though it’s an imperial measurement in a metric society, pound-feet are still used in the motor industry. One lb/ft of torque is a turning force of one pound, one foot from the centre of the rotating shaft.

    The last episode I saw was an old one that had him fawning over a jaguar and deriding the Vauxhall Monaro for “…only getting 300bhp out of a huge 5 litre V8 when the British have got 450bhp out of a 3.5litre V6.”

    OK, back to school….

    First things first – bhp is NOT an absolute measure of power. It’s an entirely arbitrary mathematical value calculated by the following formula:

    bhp = (2pi X torque X engine revs) divided by 550

    We already know what torque is. Engine revs are in revs per second. Pi never changes and I’ll use 3.142 as the standard value. So for a car that makes 100lb/ft of torque at 3500rpm (58.3rps) the equation is:

    (6.284 X 100 X 58.3) /550 = 66.61 – Nearly 67bhp – a modest figure.

    However, engines can be tuned to either make their peak torque higher or lower in the rev range. Since Pi is a constant, and torque is the absolute value, bhp can be artificially raised by tuning the engine to be revvier and produce it’s peak torque higher up the rev range. So let’s imagine the manufacturer tunes the same engine to give the same torque at 5000rpm (83.3rps)

    (6.284 X 100 X 83.3) /550 = 95.17 – 95bhp which sounds a lot healthier though the ACTUAL FORCE hasn’t changed.

    The manufacturer can then – quite legally – market this new version as the souped up sports version with a higher bhp…. despite the fact that you’ve got to rev it harder to get the same peak torque out of it making it far worse to drive!

    Never was this clearer than with motorcycle engines.

    2003 Suzuki GSX1400 – 1.4 litre inline 4 four-stroke. 104.5lb/ft of torque at 5,000rpm

    (6.284 X 104.5 X 83.3) /550 = 99.4 – near as makes no odds 100bhp

    2006 Yamah R6 – 599cc inline 4 four-stroke. (less than half the size)50.6lb/ft of torque at 13,000rpm (less than half the peak torque)

    (6.284 X 50.6 X 216.7) /550 = 125.3bhp – over 25% higher bhp figure from a less powerful motor – simply by revving it to death!

    BHP is a meaningless value. it's Torque that's the absolute - and he's already admitted he doesn't know what torque is!

    And this man was given an honorary doctorate in engineering. Can I have mine now?
  2. Chunky

    Chunky Active Member

    Busy day Andi? lol!
  3. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    Rushed off my feet! :biggrin:

    I was just mentally betting myself this thread wouldn't generate a single reply. Thanks for proving me wrong!

    I just had to have a rant at the man. Folk are going to splash lots of money on a car based on what he says... he could at least have the common decency to do his homework.

    Motor manufacturers do this kind of thing all the time to charge folk extra money - he's in a position to blow the whistle on it and is obviously oblivious!
  4. Chunky

    Chunky Active Member

    Glad to have been some use mate! Can't ignore a fellow BBb bass player!

    Being of an age who can remember Top Gear when people like Noel Edmonds etc presented it seems to me it has shifted from a factual informative programme to an an entertainiment programme.

    To me the only criteria on which I would buy a new car would be:

    1) Can I afford it?
    2) Do I like it
    3) Will my bass + family fit in?
    4) Can I afford it

    I also seem to remember from the older Top Gear programmes is that more Mr Average type cars were reviewed. Nowadays it seems to be more the cars Mr Average would dream of!

    End of the day its a funny programme and I love it. However it will never be used as a reference point for purchasing a new car or for expanding my engineering knowledge!
  5. on_castors

    on_castors Member

    The one great improvement in my mind is the vast reduction in matters of motor sport. Bores me senseless: some weeks it used to be 90% Formula 1 related, and that is as relevant to my interest in cars and driving as it is to my interest in gardening - after all lawnmowers often have 4 wheels, and a driver too!

    The infantile "entertainment" aspect has got so far out of hand
    though, it is like watching a silent slapstick fiilm some of the time :-(

    Can't say I watch it avidly now, and if I miss it, I doubt I will look for the repeat or download it.
  6. Bass Man

    Bass Man Active Member

    My brain hurts now.

    The only things I want to consider when buying a car are:

    - Does it go like stink
    - Does it look good
    - Will my BBb fit
    - is the insurance going to bankrupt me
  7. JesTperfect!

    JesTperfect! Member

    Although I myself know very little about cars, I am a great top gear fan. Because it IS entertaining.

    My Dad, however, seems to know of helluva lot about cars, and agrees with you, Thirteen Ball, that Mr. Clarkson, sadly, knows very little!
  8. johnmartin

    johnmartin Active Member

    I'm sure you'll find that Clarkson is very knowledgable in all car related matters. He has been a motoring journalist for years before Top Gear. He was working at Car magazine when I was buying it back in the 80's. The show has changed focus from the information giving programme it used to be into a light entertainment show and it had to do that to survive because the Beeb were going to can it. All Top Gear fans can thank Clarkson for rescuing it, giving it a makeover and getting it back on your screens. As the focus of the show has changed so has Clarksons commentary and his role has also changed from journalist to entertainer. I'm pretty sure he still knows a damn sight more about cars than many give him credit for.
  9. Bungle

    Bungle Member

    I don't think it's a bad thing that Top Gear doesn't promote performance bikes, because I think there are enough 'born again bikers' in power ranger suits killing themselves during the summer weekends without Top Gear glamorising performance bikes. More deaths would just lead to more legislation on bikes and rufty tufty bikers.

    Take Top Gear for what it is, entertainment. If you want a more serious car program watch Fifth Gear, with half the entertainment.

    Geoff - former all weather rufty tufty biker.
  10. WoodenFlugel

    WoodenFlugel Moderator Staff Member

    Given that most of the cars reviewed on TG these days cost well over my yearly salary (usually 3 or 4x and in the case of the Bugatti :eek:) I'd love to be in a situation to be able to buy a car they review!

    But in fairness I don't think Clarkson has ever tried to make out he's some sort of engineering maestro - anyone who's seen him during their "builds" will be blatantly aware of his lack of any mechanical sympathy or knowledge. :)

    Its an entertainment show - and all the better for it IMO. If you want an informed opinion then I guess you have to go to the beardy motoring press.
  11. hicks

    hicks Member

    You can't really take Clarkson that seriously. TG is a light entertainment programme, and does that very successfully. I'm not even sure the car reviews are all that serious. Clarkson seems to judge a car by how much he can get it sideways. It's fun seeing them throw these cars around the track though.
  12. andyp

    andyp Active Member

    The sideways bit is just posing for the camera, you don't see the Stig going sideways when doing the fast laps, cos generally sideways=slower, except in rallying etc.

    TG is entertainment with a motoring theme, not What Car? None of the presenters' opinions are unbiased by any means, but you can guess that from watching it.

    Can't wait for them to get Lewis Hamilton back to redo his "reasonably priced car" lap in the dry. Seriously fast.
  13. steve butler

    steve butler Active Member

    I quite like Top Gear but if it became as interesting as Andy's original post then I would soon be asleep :wink: X 20
  14. trumpetmike

    trumpetmike Well-Known Member

    It is an entertainment programme.
    The original post here was a factual post.
    Which would you prefer to watch?

    Whether Jeremy Clarkson (and the rest) are being completely honest about their knowledge is very debatable. He is playing a role - I strongly believe that he knows a great deal more than he talks about on Top Gear, but that when he is on that programme he is not there to give an engineering lecture, he is there to entertain.
    If he was to go on about what torque actually was - who would honestly care? Not me, I want to be entertained a great deal more than I want to see a bunch of men discussing engineering technical specs.
    Would ratings go up? Why do I doubt it?

    If you want detailed analysis and correct usage of words, might I recommend the men in jumpers of the Open University?
  15. DMBabe

    DMBabe Supporting Member

    Personally, being an incredibly deep and intellectual (not) petrolhead, I find Top Gear to be one of the best things on TV, but if I wanted in-depth scientific data I'd watch those tragic things on Discovery that him indoors loves so much (mostly about combustion engines and Planes and stuff like that:-|). The depths of my shallowness mean that I value James May's opinion more than anyone elses cos he drives cars that people can afford (like the Fiat Panda) so literally puts his money where his mouth is.

    Things I want in a car are....
    1. Does it get me from A to B without humiliation or breaking down?
    2. Can I fit the weekly shop/instruments etc in it?
    3. Does it have accessible light bulbs (i've learned this from my current car where u have to remove the whole cluster to change a rear bulb and bizzarely the bumper and cluster to change the front!!):mad:
    4. Does it have a spare tyre?
    5. Does it cost a fortune to maintain/insure?
    6. Does it have enough headroom in both the front and back to accommodate my 6'1" husband and his 6'5" tall friend?
    7. If it's a 3 door to you have to be a yoga expert to get in and out?:eek:

    None of which Top Gear would really tell me.... and that's what the boffin press are for. They show you which cars are pretty and the rest is up to you!:D Although I do love watching them malky caravans!!:clap:
  16. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member

    NOBODY watches Top Gear to help them choose a car. Or in fact any motoring programme, because they can only ever review one car in the range and lets face it, it'll never be the sensible 1.9 Diesel family estate, it'll be the mentalist 3 litre V6 Turbo Sport with flappy paddle gearbox and drug dealer wheels. Similarly nobody watches TG to get the lowdown on engine & power statistics. Being a sad git, I read "What Car?" for that......:oops:

    When TG returned they made a conscious effort to get away from the William Woolard era of "sensible consumer advice" and the programme is all the better for it. While I bow to Thirteen's engineering knowledge and I'd agree that Clarkson can get seriously irritating, I know who I'd rather listen to on a Sunday night! (sorry Mr Cook!;) )
  17. WoodenFlugel

    WoodenFlugel Moderator Staff Member

    Can you have depths to shallowness??? :confused: ;)

    James May writes in this weeks "The Engineer" trade journal. In fact he used to be a sub-editor on it (apparently).

    As far as I know Jeremy Clarkson has never written, edited or even read The Engineer...
  18. Rapier

    Rapier Supporting Member

    Do not diss the God that is Clarkson!

    Anyone who can say on national television,

    ''Imagine the entire French Air Force crashing into a fireworks factory, well this car's more of a laugh than that.''

    can do no wrong.
  19. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    No offence taken old boy. I'll certainly not take up the gauntlet on the entertainment issue. I'm sure the first post on this thread illustrates my (limited) abilities quite adequately! ;)

    I suppose it annoys me more than other folk because the motorcycle manufacturers perform this sort of creative mathematics every year - and lots of people fall for it. And I've no reason to beleive car manufacturers are any different.

    It's the same reason if you buy a 1 terrabyte hard disk it only actually has 930 gigabytes of space on it. The manufacturers calculate capacity based on 1000mb per gig and 1000 gig per terrabyte - when they should be using 1024 in both cases. So people are getting ripped off!

    Clarkson is a very funny and entertaining chap, (even if he does hate bikes) and I really do enjoy top gear. I guess it was just an example of how, for the sake of 2 minutes broadcasting, he could stop people being conned - yet doesn't.
  20. SuperCat

    SuperCat Member

    Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz :wink: