It’s Friday, which means it’s time for another episode of The Grand Tour. This week, Clarkson, Hammond and May are in Rotterdam, a place with well-dressed policemen and the home of the speed camera. Anyway, these are the cars featured this week…
- The Grand Tour: everything we know so far
- Watch: The Grand Tour first trailer released
- Read more about The Grand Tour on Motoring Research
Mazda MX-5 vx Zenos E10 S vs Alfa Romeo 4C
Richard Hammond claims the Mazda MX-5 is “all the sports car you’d ever need,” and it’s a bargain – with prices starting at £18,495. The new model comes with air-con, heated seats, lane-departure assist, cruise control, rain-sensing wipers, dusk-sensing headlamps… all of which makes it better, says Hammond.
James May disagrees. Quoting Lotus founder Colin Chapman, he says these extras add weight meaning it’s not a true sports car any more. Which is why Captain Slow’s picked the Zenos E10 S, which manages without a radio, roof or even a heater. It does, however, have a 250hp Ford Focus ST engine.
To decide which is better, the pair head to the “obvious proving ground for all sports cars”: North Africa.
And then Clarkson turns up in an Alfa Romeo 4C. He insists it’s his “favourite car currently on sale”, despite the dim-witted gearbox, lifeless steering and eagerness to chuck you in a ditch for no reason. He justifies it by saying: “Put it this way, we all could probably find fault with our children, and yet we still love them.”
It also gives Clarkson cramp, and it costs more than the Mazda and Zenos put together.
The group test concludes with a race between the three sports cars through a film set used in The Jewel of the Nile and Game of Thrones. The sandy roads make for a lot of oversteer and ends with Hammond sliding sideways into an ancient sculpture. Despite this, Hammond in the MX-5 is the fastest around the track, but admits it’s a hollow victory.
Kids of today are no longer interested in board games, apparently. But The Grand Tour trio reckoned they would be if they could play life-size versions. So, they borrowed a crane, a fleet of old bangers and a line-up of G-Wiz electric cars. The results were rather spectacular – but we can’t help wondering if the G-Wiz owners’ club might be penning letters as you read this.
Porsche 911 GT3 RS vs BMW M4 GTS
Missed episode four? Last week’s episode started with Clarkson singing the praises of the Porsche 911 GT3 RS. “Oh, it’s very, very good,” he says, as he slides the GT3 RS around The Grand Tour’s Eboladrome test track. But is it as good as the BMW M4 GTS?
Clarkson gives the BMW M4 GTS a bit of a pasting in The Grand Tour. He slates the lack of practicality, and complains that the ride is too bumpy while the “drone from the tyres is horrendous”. You might be expecting a “but”… but it doesn’t come (yet). He complains about having to fill the water tank for the engine’s water injection, while he describes the steering as “horrid”.
It sounds like there’s a clear winner, then, with Clarkson concluding: “This competition between these two cars is like a boxing match between an actual boxer and someone who thinks he’s a boxer because they’re wearing satin shorts.”
But… and, eventually, there is a “but”, the BMW M4 is crowned the winner, solely because Richard Hammond has bought a Porsche 911 GT3 RS.
“In recent years, the world’s carmakers have made great strides to make more fuel-efficient and more environmentally-friendly car engines,” says Hammond, “but very little has been done to make more environmentally-friendly car bodies and interiors.”
This gave the team an idea. The three of them bought an old Land Rover Discovery and gave it a more eco-friendly appearance…
An old Land Rover Discovery covered in mud isn’t such an unusual sight, but what about one made of mud? This one weighs five tonnes, and chunks fall off it during driving. It soon requires a re-think, with May rebuilding it out of bricks. That doesn’t work particularly well either, so eventually James resorts to straw and cow poo. And, you guessed it, that’s not exactly problem-free.
Hammond’s attempt features a frame made out of hazel before being covered in flowers and shrubs. “It’s basically a hedgerow,” he says. The flowers are planted in compost and nutrients, meaning they’re still growing – and, as Hammond puts it, “you don’t wash this car, you water it.”
And finally, Clarkson’s attempt at being green is a little more controversial. It uses animal skin and bones, with ears for door mirrors and a cow’s rectum as the windscreen. It has its pitfalls – dogs tear it apart overnight, meaning Jeremy has to visit the local butcher to repair his car. Watch the episode to find out whose attempt at sustainable transport worked the best.
Episode three began with the sight of the three presenters making their way to Whitby at the wheel of a trio of Jensen Interceptors. It’s a fitting choice of car for an episode dominated by three British blokes gallivanting around Tuscany, as the Interceptor was very much an Anglo-Italian GT car.
Clarkson and May decided to visit Italy to embark on a very modern take on the classic Grand Tour recipe. A journey of art, of culture and of fine food is planned. The question is: what cars should the duo drive?
Aston Martin DB11
For Clarkson, the choice is the new Aston Martin DB11. Arguably one of the greatest GT cars you can buy today, the DB11 packs a 5.2-litre twin-turbo V12 engine, producing a mighty 608hp. It’ll reach a top speed of 200mph, a figure that gives Clarkson some much needed bragging rights later in the show. Oh, and if anybody asks, the car is Sunburst Orange. Not brown. Definitely not brown.
As for May, he decides to lord it about in Tuscany with the help of the Rolls-Royce Dawn. If it looks familiar, that’s because it’s the same one Matt LeBlanc drove in the latest series of Top Gear (and we tested it earlier this year). Clarkson does his best to convince May that it’s little more than a BMW 7-Series in a fancy suit, but the long-haired one is not for turning. The scene is set: Clarkson and May are ready to head into the beautifully manicured hills of Tuscany. Or are they?
Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat
No, because – surprise, surprise – Richard Hammond turns up in a very loud and very thirsty Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat. The 707hp all-American action hero isn’t your typical GT car, but then the Grand Tour isn’t your typical car show. Hammond justifies the Hellcat by likening the original concept of a Grand Tour as a little like an “18th century Cannonball Run”.
What follows is a road trip that feels very much like an episode you might have seen during the old days of Top Gear. Clarkson and May spend most of the time attempting to escape from Hammond, while Hammond himself spends most of his time in petrol stations. Describing Hammond and his Hellcat, May said: “It’s like someone being sick on you while you read a nice book.”
Jezza’s self-driving car
Back in the tent, the trio urge the buying public to stop buying cars like the Renault Kadjar and Nissan Juke, while Clarkson presents his own take on Google’s self-driving car. “How hard can it be?” asks Jezza. You can judge the results for yourself. Meanwhile, look out for a very explosive ending…
Aston Martin Vulcan
Now, let’s look back at episode two. The episode starts with Clarkson hammering around a track in Aston Martin’s rather special, track-only £1.8 million Vulcan. Only 24 will ever be made but Clarkson doesn’t seem that impressed from the start.
“You will be able to edit this out, won’t you? I don’t want people thinking I’m fat,” he jibes as he struggles to get into the hypercar. He then tears it apart for being uncomfortable and not very well equipped – the windows don’t go down, it’s noisy and “you only get half a steering wheel”.
All Aston Martin Vulcan buyers can have it shipped out to a racetrack of their choice where a team of mechanics will set it up for them and show them how to drive it – all part of the service. In typical Clarkson review style, by the time he’s spent some time driving it aggressively, he’s rather more convinced.
“I LOVE THIS THING VERY MUCH,” he concludes, shoutily.
Once The Grand Tour’s American racing driver Mike Skinner prises the keys from Clarkson’s grip, he sets a time of 1:15.5 around the show’s test track – that’s 2.4 seconds quicker than a McLaren 650S, the outgoing leader.
Audi S8 Plus in Jordan
Now onto the mean feature of episode two. Jordan, in the Middle East, has built a mock town where special forces around the world are sent to compete and decide which one’s best. What’s this got to do with The Grand Tour..?
“Mr Wilman, who is the fat man who controls our lives [and executive producer of The Grand Tour], decided that us three should go and take part,” explains James May.
Now, those who were hoping The Grand Tour would be a ‘proper’ car show might be a tad disappointed with this feature. But it involves guns and helicopters, and they’re cool, right?
It also features an Audi S8 Plus used as a getaway car to transport the Queen (yes, it’s definitely her) away from terrorists. Clarkson and May can’t help but review the car, praising its ride quality and performance.
Spinning in an E30 BMW 3 Series
The final feature of Episode Two is what Clarkson describes as “making James May do something that he doesn’t want to do.” The first of what’s likely to be an on-going feature involves ‘spinning’, a South African thing that involves doing donuts in an elderly, rear-wheel-drive car to a backdrop of rap music.
“It’s lively, it’s interesting and it’s youthful. It’s everything he [James May] isn’t,” Clarkson explains.
Apparently, old E30 BMW 3 Series models are a popular choice for the sport, so that’s what James May is taken out in. He’s not very impressed when his driver gets out and leaves him in the car doing donuts by itself. So that’s all the cars featured in Episode Two…
McLaren P1, LaFerrari and Porsche 918
Not watched the first episode yet? The team managed to get the “hypercar holy trinity” of the McLaren P1, LaFerrari and Porsche 918 together. It’s a group test that the team never managed on Top Gear – the car manufacturers wouldn’t co-operate, apparently, and while the crew were desperately trying to convince owners to let them borrow their cars, the fracas happened and ruined it all. Until now.
The McLaren P1 is Clarkson’s hypercar of choice. The plug-in hybrid uses a twin-turbocharged 3.8-litre V8 petrol engine combined with an electric motor to produce 917hp. It’ll hit 0-62mph in 2.8 seconds and reach an electronically-limited top speed of 218mph. Without its limiter, the P1 is good for 249mph.
Prices for the McLaren P1 started at £866,000. Only 375 were made, with the last one leaving the firm’s Woking production line in September 2013. There are currently four listed on Auto Trader – but you’ll need to splash out at least £1,675,000. Call it an investment.
The LaFerrari’s power (all 963hp of it) comes from a 6.3-litre V12 combined with an electric motor. The 0-62mph run is dispatched in less than 3.0 seconds, while top speed is more than 217mph. James May reckoned it would “absolutely mince” the other two…
Just 499 LaFerraris were sold worldwide at a cost of around £1 million each. There’s currently just one listed on Auto Trader, for an incredible £3.5 million.
Now onto Richard Hammond’s choice, the Porsche 918. Power comes from a 4.6-litre V8 engine combined with not one but two electric motors, producing a total power output of 887hp. In standard guise, it’d hit 62mph in 2.5 seconds and was capable of a top speed of 218hp. The one featured in The Grand Tour has the optional Weissach Package – a £60,000 pack which reduces weight and can lap the Nürburgring three seconds quicker than the standard 918.
Meanwhile, the Porsche 918 would have cost you a relatively affordable £625,000 when it was on sale. But today you’ll be looking at paying at least £1.1 million on the second-hand market.
Spoiler alert: the fastest around The Grand Tour’s new test track was the Porsche 918 (1:54.2), followed by the LaFerrari (1:54.4) and McLaren P1 (1:55.5). Clarkson promised Hammond and May they could bulldoze his house if the McLaren didn’t win.
The hypercar trio aside, what else did Clarkson, Hammond and May drive in the first episode of The Grand Tour? Well, it starts with the threesome driving through the States in red, white and blue Ford Mustangs. Powered by a 5.0-litre V8, the latest Ford Mustang (and the only to officially be sold in Europe) will hit 62mph in 4.8 seconds. It also features a burnout mode. And this wasn’t all…
New programme… new track. To show off the “eboladrome”, The Grand Tour’s unidentified driver completed a lap in a “performance icon”, the Ferrari 488. Unfortunately Ferrari wouldn’t let them time it.
It’s one of our favourite ever BMWs – and Clarkson’s now dubbed it “the best M car BMW has ever made”. The BMW M2 produces 365hp from its turbocharged 3.0-litre straight six and, as Clarkson proves on track, it’s very happy to flatter the driver in some oversteer fun.
He concludes that the BMW M2 is “an absolute masterpiece”.
James May’s Prius
Teasing the show, The Grand Tour has planted three ‘crashed’ Toyota Priuses around the world. The first one, sporting the number plate ‘M4Y’ and ‘The Grand Tour’ decals, was seen squashed against a postbox outside London’s King’s Cross station.
Richard Hammond’s Prius
Meanwhile, a red Prius with the plate ‘H4MMOND’ was seen crashing through the ground in Berlin…
Jeremy Clarkson’s Prius
And sporting, you guessed it, a ‘CL4RKSON’’ number plate, this blue Toyota Prius was spotted in LA. Previously, the controversial presenter described Prius owners as ‘morons who think they’re saving the planet’.