What happens when mysterious masked racing driver of the U.K’s most famous car-based entertainment show reveals his identity?
Contrary to the opinions aired on the testosterone-filled, gear jamming show he actually quite likes electric cars, and he's not been afraid to share his admiration for the 2011 Nissan Leaf and 2011 Tesla Roadster 2.5.
Fresh from his rapid departure from BBC’s Top Gear show, “The Stig”, aka Ben Collins, has featured heavily in The Sun - a U.K. tabloid newspaper owned by media magnate Rupert Murdoch and more famous for its scantily-clad “Page 3” female models than its motoring advice.
Ben Collins (The Stig)
But Collins'car latest post isn’t a tell-all expose on his former employers, who sought a court injunction to prevent the 35-year old racing driver from publishing his memoirs before sacking him. Nor is it a test drive of the latest $200,000 sports car.
Comparing the experience to driving an iPod, Collins gives high praise to the all-electric, five seat hatchback which has already received 20,000 reservations in the U.S. alone.
2011 Nissan Leaf
Classing the ride and handling as superb, Collins only real bugbear was the overly light power-assisted steering, which gives very little feedback to the driver.
The 2011 Nissan Leaf isn’t Collins’ first experience with an all-electric car, however.
In 2008 Top Gear borrowed two Tesla Roadsters to film a test-drive on the show’s own test-track. But Collins’ colleague, long-time celebrity motoring journalist and confirmed EV skeptic Jeremy Clarkson staged a publicity stunt in which members of the production crew were filmed pushing Clarkson and a supposedly flat Tesla to a power socket as a conclusion to a feature on the car. It was just one of many anti EV stunts pulled by the television series.
Called out later on by Tesla employees who were present at the filming, the BBC had to later admit that at no-point had the Teslas there ran out of power and that the scene was meant to illustrate what would happen if the super-quick electric sports car were to run out of power.
While Clarkson and his production team portrayed a lukewarm reception toward the Tesla, off-screen Collins couldn’t get enough.
Tesla released a Facebook page on Monday dedicated to Ben Collins’ Stig, after giving him a chance to drive the Roadster 2.5 at the Brands Hatch motoring circuit in the U.K last month.
If the photographs are anything to go by, Collins enjoyed his zero-tailpipe emission laps.
So what’s next? Is Collins about to make the move from petrol-head to amp-puller?
Maybe and maybe not. But Collins' conclusion on his Leaf test-drive says it all.
"Electric-Powered Vehicles were pioneered more than 100 years ago, so it's remarkable that the powers shaping human history have managed to conceal their advantages for so long. The secret is finally out and the dawn of a new driving era is arriving"
We think so too, Ben.