Last week, the Sunday Times revealed Jeremy Clarkson’s top 10 favourite cars of the last year. They included gems like the new Mazda MX-5 and Volvo’s superb new XC90.
And while that’s great, what we really want to know is which cars he thinks are absolute stinkers. Writing for the Sunday Times again, Clarkson has listed his worst cars of the last 12 months. There are a few surprises…
Vauxhall Astra SRi NAV
We quite like the new Vauxhall Astra. It’s a huge step up over the previous model – and it even won the coveted European Car of the Year title. However, Clarkson isn’t a fan.
So why the Astra bashing from Mr Ex-Top Gear? Simple: he had an Aston to drive that weekend and wanted to be driving that instead. “I much preferred the idea of tooling around in a convertible Aston for the weekend to that of bumbling about in a mildly speedy Vauxhall,” he explained. Fair.
Infiniti Q30 Premium Tech
When we drove the Infiniti Q30 last year, we didn’t think it was bad per se. It just had no distinguishing features that’d make you want to buy one over rivals from established premium brands.
Clarkson’s biggest criticism was the Q30’s diesel engine, which actually comes from Mercedes-Benz. It’s certainly a little grumbly.
“I think that’s what the engine does, in fact,” says Clarkson. “[It] turns diesel into sound. Because it sure as hell doesn’t turn it into large lumps of power. Every time I pulled out to overtake a caravan, I had to pull in again because there wasn’t quite enough grunt.”
Skoda Superb SE L Executive
We rate the Superb for its upmarket interior, plentiful loadspace and attractive price tag – but Jeremy Clarkson isn’t as easily impressed. He gave the big Skoda two stars, concluding that it was ‘good for minicabbing but not for the soul’.
He adds that the Superb “has the same amount of soul as a fridge freezer. It’s the sort of car that you’d buy by the foot.”
Zenos E10 S
We said you’d be surprised by some of Clarkson’s choices. We gave the Norfolk-built Zenos E10 S a five-star rating when we drove it. But Jezza describes the unassisted steering as ‘wearing’, while complaining that he has ‘encountered better-equipped pencils’.
And then he comes to ‘the turd in the swimming pool’. The Zenos doesn’t come with anti-lock brakes, which means the front wheels have tendency to lock up under heavy braking.
“An anti-lock system would solve all that,” explains Clarkson. “But the whole point of the Zenos is that you get no driver aids. I like that philosophy, when I’m on a sofa and someone else is doing the driving, in a race, on the television. But a bit less when I’m heading towards a tree in a cloud of my own tyre smoke.”
Renault Kadjar dCi 130 Signature Nav
Now this we can totally get behind. Like the Infiniti, it’s not that the Renault Kadjar is a bad car. It’s just… bland. Tediously bland. Based on the bland Nissan Qashqai, Renault has made it just as soulless.
“A dreary milestone on motoring’s road to oblivion” is how Clarkson sums up the Renault Kadjar.
BMW X1 xDrive25d
This is another car that isn’t actually that bad. But as Clarkson points out, because it sports a BMW badge, you expect it to be better.
The Fracas-gate star bemoans the X1’s off-road ability and the fact the range-topping 2.0-litre diesel ‘didn’t feel speedy’.
SEAT Leon X-Perience SE Technology
Throughout Clarkson’s 31-year car testing career, he’s never driven a SEAT. He’d never asked, because he ‘couldn’t see the point’, he explains. But then the company sent him its jacked-up Leon, the X-Perience.
We’re fans of the X-Perience’s metallic brown paint and brown Alcantara interior combo, but apparently Jeremy isn’t. “I’m grateful to SEAT for lending me this car because it reinforces every belief I’ve held about SEAT’s cars,” he says. “They’re a waste of time.”
Nissan GT-R Track Edition
The standard Nissan GT-R is a brilliant car. That’s something us and Clarkson agree on. But the GT-R Track Edition takes suspension from the (even more extreme) Nismo and a stiffer shell to make it a full-on track car. Too extreme for the road, reckons Clarkson.
“This track-day abomination gets no stars at all,” he concludes, after likening hitting a manhole cover to being in a plane crash.
Volkswagen Scirocco 2.0 TDI
Clarkson’s first car was an original Volkswagen Scirocco, which goes someway towards explaining why he doesn’t like the current model. Add in the fact that it’s getting old, based on the sixth-generation Golf and is powered by a diesel engine that needs lots of revs to stop it stalling, and he arrives at a two-star verdict.
Jezza concludes: “As an overall package it did nothing all week except remind me how much I wanted a Golf GTI.”
The Hyundai i800 is enormous, practical, and cheap. It makes for a great taxi – but if you’re an Uber driver with one of these and get summoned by a Mr J. Clarkson, don’t bother. He hates the thing, awarding a bit fat zero-star rating.
“I would rather apply sun cream to James May’s back than travel again in a Hyundai i800,” he says. Well, there we are.