Top Gear Australia, Paramount+ review: high-end hooning

Aussie blokes fanging around Italy in luxury cars: the Australian version of Top Gear has its own rough charm.
Top Gear Australia

Paramount+ franchise Top Gear Australia is, if you somehow stumble upon it with no context whatsoever, a deeply weird program.

If someone said to you ‘it’s a show that reviews cars’, you’d think, ‘So it’s Gardening Australia but for automobiles’. If someone else said to you, ‘it’s like a television version of a motoring magazine’, you’d think ‘so we’re getting a lot of useful technical information delivered by people who possibly know a little too much about the subject’. Both fairly logical formats for a show about cars.

And yet Top Gear Australia works hard to make sure it’s not confused with either of those things in any way. Thanks to a decades long history that included the original UK version turning, for a while at least, into one of the most popular shows in the world, the Top Gear franchise is now based on an extremely specific concept: What if three blokey men did a series of semi-comedy segments involving cars?

Watch the trailer for Top Gear Australia below:


Top Gear: boys and their luxury toys

In the Australian version these roles are filled by the bearded trio of Blair Joscelyne (who, we discover early on, ‘grew up on a car farm’), Beau Ryan and Jonathan LaPaglia. They let us know they’ve been told ‘don’t ever try to be Jeremy Clarkson… but, do it just like him’, right before a sizzle reel introduction designed to sell what lies ahead as a very slick celebration of expensive cars, flashy locations, manly antics, and the occasional bingle. Plus at one point they’ll be firing a six-thousand-round-a-minute mini-gun, which doesn’t seem to have a lot to do with cars but has everything to do with the ‘boys and their toys’ vibe that Top Gear Australia is selling.

And to its credit, it does a very good job of selling it. This is first and foremost a luxurious television product, with polished camerawork, global locations, and lots of gleaming high-end machinery on display. In part, the trio’s role is to make all this impossibly expensive technology accessible; they might be on television hooning across the globe, but they’re just average blokes who can’t believe they get to fang around Italy driving supercars where even the name badges are carved out of a single block of aluminium.

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In the first episode, the focus is firmly on their big budget Italian adventure, which for some reason ends up involving the trio wearing ill-fitting suits and ordering from the kids’ menu at a café. The regular segments also get a look in, as the mysterious Stig hoons around a race track either testing vehicles to their limits or scaring various actors (including Ian Smith, AKA Harold from Neighbours) and comedians by flinging a reasonably-priced car around the track before they get to do it themselves.

With the sillier segments there’s still a truckload of cash being spent, only now it’s being spent trying to be entertaining rather than just driving around a car worth eleven million dollars. Though to be fair, seeing LaPaglia try to park that eleven million dollar car on an Italian street without scratching it, and then try to protect it using garden chairs and toilet paper, is pretty funny. Especially when it turns out later on that not all the hosts are quite as good at keeping their expensive cars intact.

There’s also a bit of useful information on offer. Which hatchback has the guts of a rally car and goes from zero to a hundred in just over five seconds? The answer may surprise you, especially if you know nothing about hatchbacks or rally cars.

Looking past the cars, it’s fair to say that the UK version of Top Gear captured lightning in a bottle with the trio of hosts that made it a global success. These guys aren’t those guys. Fans of polished comedy banter might want to look elsewhere, and while the fact this trio has next to no real chemistry has a rough charm of its own, at least they are always convincing as car buffs who are excited to be working on a show where they get to play with cars all day.

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A grab-bag of elements

Part travel show, part car infomercial, part comedy road trip, and part collection of segments people expect from a show called Top Gear, it’s no surprise this is a bit of a grab-bag. The Italian travel segment is maybe a little too obviously scripted; the reasonably-priced car segment rushes through too many celebrities (why five?) and feels like it was designed to be edited out for international sales (this series will also air in Canada, Latin America, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, France and Japan).

But there’s a lot of money involved and it’s all up on the screen. In the context of Australian television, this is a luxury supercar where the big price tag is a big part of the appeal – and if it runs a little rough, who cares so long as it looks good?

Top Gear Australia is available on Paramount+ from 17 May.


3.5 out of 5 stars

Top Gear Australia


Jonathan LaPaglia, Blair Joscelyne, Beau Ryan


Format: TV Series

Country: Australia

Release: 17 May 2024

Available on:

Paramount Plus, 8 Episodes

Anthony Morris is a freelance film and television writer. He’s been a regular contributor to The Big Issue, Empire Magazine, Junkee, Broadsheet, The Wheeler Centre and Forte Magazine, where he’s currently the film editor. Other publications he’s contributed to include Vice, The Vine, Kill Your Darlings (where he was their online film columnist), The Lifted Brow, Urban Walkabout and Spook Magazine. He’s the co-author of hit romantic comedy novel The Hot Guy, and he’s also written some short stories he’d rather you didn’t mention. You can follow him on Twitter @morrbeat and read some of his reviews on the blog It’s Better in the Dark.