Kiwi's Quadski creation lauded on Top Gear

Christchurch-born entrepreneur Alan Gibbs should be pleased about the prospects for his Quadski amphibious vehicle after it was lauded on British television motoring programme Top Gear.

During the show, which screened in New Zealand on Prime on Sunday, Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson rode the Quadski in a "race" against colleague Richard Hammond driving an Alfa Romeo 4C.

The contest was at Lake Como in Italy, where Hammond had to drive 70 kilometres along one side of the lake and a little way up the other, slowing for windy sections of road. The Alfa's considerable width caused a few anxious moments as Hammond eased past buses going the other way on some of the narrower sections of road.

Clarkson, on the other hand, was shown speeding along the calm waters of the lake at more than 70kmh. At one point he was shown riding alongside a large hydrofoil.

He got soaking wet but didn't seem to mind, except when the Quadski hit a choppy stretch of the lake, causing him to bounce around and lose speed.

When he reached calmer water again, Clarkson was able to pick up speed. He reached the lakeside area beside the hotel being used as a finish line before Hammond, but did not get off the amphibious vehicle until after Hammond showed up, technically losing the race.

Clarkson explained that while he had wanted to beat Hammond, he had not wanted to beat the Alfa.

Back in the studio, Clarkson described the Quadski as "brilliant", with the best thing about it being its reliability. The vehicle had performed faultlessly for two full days, after it had been necessary to rerun the race.

It was expensive, "but you do get a lot of health and safety warning notices for that", Clarkson said.

That included a warning that "normal swimwear does not adequately protect against forceful water entry into rectum or vagina".

The 3.2-metre Quadski is made in the US state of Michigan by company Gibbs Sports Amphibians, which Gibbs founded. The vehicle was launched in October 2012 and is sold in 11 US states.

It is powered by a 140 horsepower BMW Motorrad engine and can do 72kmh on land or water.

Motoring writers have had positive things to say about the Quadski.

Popular Mechanics said that for committed sportsmen, the vehicle answered a need for freedom to roam. But at US$40,000 ($NZ47,700) it would not be bought by "average weekend warriors".

Gibbs made an earlier amphibious vehicle, the three-seat Aquada, which had its debut in 2003. That never went on sale, partly because US safety regulators would not approve it for street use.

Gibbs Sports said development of its high-speed amphibian technology had cost more than US$200m. It retains a New Zealand connection, with the company's website saying work on developing other sports amphibians was being done at facilities in the US and Auckland.