Fifth Gear is our favorite sane British car show. Sane meaning not Top Gear. Fifth Gear is more real-world, without the ever-increasing stunts and worldwide trekking. There won’t be a space shuttle replica launching a car or a Ben-Hur spike track test. Nor will there be versions tailored to other countries, most notoriously Top Gear America (hosted by a man with no personality and staffed with a retarded man and a slacker).
Nope, Fifth Gear is all seriousness, but can still have some fun with great hosts and tests that relate to those of us in the real world. But there is also a serious side, and their latest test is one that needs to be seen by all drivers. They crash test a Focus at 120 MPH – a crash speed which they believe has never been simulated before. The results are unsurvivable. And sobering.
If you are a rabid follower of Fifth Gear like we are, then you already know that it’s the 10th anniversary of the show. Fifth Gear has chosen their favorite top 10 moments from years past and are offering them up for your viewing and voting: http://fwd.channel5.com/adv/fifth-gear-10th-birthday.
The anniversary show was broadcast on the 15th of July, however as of this update the top shows are still there for your viewing pleasure. You’ll also want to explore the website, where you’ll find their blog and a collection of videos from past shows!
Fifth Gear is the “other” U.K. broadcast car show, and while Clarkson and company over at Top Gear are currently number one, Fifth Gear has a certain friendly appeal that some say is better. And it’s certainly more consistent and mature. You won’t see the constant and ever-increasing stunts or spectacles, there isn’t a farm where lead hosts are bred, U.K. newspapers and protesters aren’t lambasting the politics of the host.
You will see serious tests of new cars with the focus on performance cars and track work. And just like that other show, the presenters have personality – albeit a lot more moderated. And Fifth Gear has Vicki Butler-Henderson, something that Top Gear can’t and won’t ever approach. Can you imagine Jeremy Clarkson putting up with a woman, much less a smart and very accomplished woman who is an experienced driver on her own? And a more capable and experienced driver than Clarkson Himself? Not bloody likely!
Tiff Needell is a former racer, with 14 starts at LeMans and many other events. Jason Plato is well known for his outstanding success in the BTCC. You’ll often see Tiff aaand Jason racing against each other on various racetracks. And Jonny Smith represents the rest of us, as a long time car enthusiast with over 60 vehicles in his garage over the years.
Unfortunately, many of our readers won’t have ever seen an episode of Fifth Gear. If you reside in North America then you have been deprived of Fifth Gear for the same reasons you don’t see Top Gear when it comes out: people in the U.K. apparently feel that we just aren’t interested. In the case of Top gear, we get it a year after it’s original broadcast. In the case of Fifth Gear, we never get it at all. Dead wrong.
We personally have a large library of Fifth Gear books and videos, and have selected some of our favorites here. Enjoy!
And our heroes are not in agreement on the handling merits of the new Focus. Tiff in particular, who finds out that you cannot completely shut off the traction control.
Speaking of the European launch of the 370Z, here’s the first review of the car from Fifth Gear.
Fifth Gear test drives yet another fabulous European Ford that we don’t get here in North America – and may never will.
- Because when the European Focus finally comes to North America in a couple of years it will be based on a next-gen Focus.
- Because Ford tends to wait a few years into the model run before they bring out an RS model.
- And of course we’re hoping that Ford of North America chooses to offer the RS in the lineup here.
So it may be 2015 or so before an RS is possible in North America.
But we do have to ask ourselves a question: would the current Focus RS even be desirable in North America? Well…
- 300 HP won’t be state of the art in 4-6 years from now: and that’s at least how long it would take to get the next RS here (assuming that financial and emissions priorities allow one). The Evo XI and STI will both produce around 340 HP by then… and will be equipped with direct injection and more advanced engine management to get mileage up. And their drivetrain and suspensions are incomparably more sophisticated than that of the RS.
- Front wheel drive: even with the trick “RevoKnuckle” front suspension and a limited slip diff, as we see in the video, traction is difficult and compromised in certain conditions. This would not be the case with all-wheel drive (AWD).
- 0-60 time of 5.9 seconds: more than a little slow in this day and age – but to be fair probably traction limited. There is only so much that can be done with FWD.
- Cost: the RS uses all sorts of special parts that are not regular Ford production (body pieces, suspension, interior, brakes, engine, etc). It would probably cost around $45,000 US in 2015 dollars and is more or less $40k in Europe now (depending on options and the fluctuating exchange rate).
The parts exist in Ford’s worldwide supply chain to make this an AWD car – remember that this is a shared platform with both Volvo and Mazda (RIP, Volvo). That would add at least another 200 pounds to the equation… and while traction would be better the overall improvements in dynamics still wouldn’t be up to par with the Evo and STI. Ford doesn’t have the center differential technology that the Evo and STi has, much less the torque-proportioning rear differential that makes the Evo shine.
Clearly, we would need to love this car due to it’s overall sophistication: the sum of all of it’s parts and how well they work together. That’s the reason why I once upon a time almost bought an authentic European Escort RS (whale-tail and all). Too bad I passed it up.