‘The Grand Tour’ Recap and Reaction: “Italian Lesson”

Graham Host
TV
TV

Having enjoyed a lovely time in the Caribbean rebuilding the coral reefs, The Grand Tour has now relocated to the Scottish Highlands. In a ‘funny because it is true’ running joke, they point out that any Scottish national who accomplishes anything of note is ‘elevated’ to British by the English. Any great Englishman remains English but the Scottish becomes British so the English can share the credit. There are several blunt and open Scottish terms that I can use but not here.

Fiat 124 Spider

Fiat is going heavy on the retro by naming their latest sports car after their top seller from the 1970’s. Mechanically, however, it is based on the template of the Mazda MX-5. Built by Abarth – a Fiat subsidiary known for getting jobs done – is the new 124 Spider. This new Spider has a 1.4 turbo-charged engine, does 0-60 in 6.8 seconds and tops out at 145 MPH, outstripping the MX-5 by a comfortable margin. Whilst not mechanically relevant, it has a ‘Record Monza exhaust system’ to make the exhaust sound louder. Great for the races that you won’t be in and ‘not’ revving your engine at the lights to impress people. But there is a hefty price tag for all this: £30,000 – £5,000 upwards of the best MX-5.

In what can only be called an accident, Clarkson recommends buying the MX-5 over the standard 124 Spider and Hammond recommends the Abarth over the MX-5. The Grand Tour seems to have strayed dangerously close to actual car advice. Eager to move on, the shove the American behind the Abarth wheel at Eboladrome only to receive their slowest lap yet at 1.33.7.

Conversation Street

Possibly their weirdest-yet-helpful topic yet, The Grand Tour tackles proper car seat materials. Leather is apparently too slippery and impractical. James wants wool and Clarkson thinks his co-presenters are idiots, having recently become vegetarians. But chicken is ‘scientifically’ a vegetable, as it can run around without a head, making it a ‘higher order vegetable.’

Next on their agenda is sexism in motoring. Cars are being specifically designed for women. According to the presenters, the only items that should be split by gender are bicycle crossbars and underwear. A few years back, Volvo did a concept car designed entirely by women, coupling a massive engine with gull-wing doors. Given the right budget, everybody would arrive at that design – because it’s awesome.

Second-Hand Supercars

Possibly plagiarizing from their Top Gear days a little, The Grand Tour is buying second-hand supercars – Maserati’s this time – to put them through the ringer in France. Clarkson has nabbed the coveted BiTurbo S Model with £50 of his £8,000 to spare. Hammond arrives in the 430 which is probably the same design with a different label. Captain Slow eventually arrives in a Zagato Spyder – BiTurbo by any other name. But their cars aren’t the only broken items, James has broken his right arm and lost his good-nature after falling over.

In an effort to see how their cars fare against modern cars of similar price, The Grand Tour has a race against a Suzuki Celerio. Unfortunately, their rented racetrack is too narrow and several crashes ensue. Hammond is elected to represent their Maserati’s and takes a large win. Job done, The Grand Tour then decide to time their own cars around the track to see which is fastest. Although the phrase ‘with one hand’ is used as a boast, driving a manual transmission is somewhat difficult. James therefore requests a steering knob on his wheel. Once again diving into the Grand Tour ‘Toy Box’, Clarkson and Hammond attach yet another rubber penis to a May automobile. After Hammond and Clarkson crash off track and May refuses to make use of his new appendage, they decide to head to the north of France for the next leg of their journey.

Celebrity Brain Crash

This week’s star is Scottish British Gold Medal Olympian, Sir Chris Hoy. Possibly the best part of this episode is their location: Loch Ness. There are no natural disasters, no man-made problems possible and no way to die. Except for the hidden sea mine which blows his boat to smithereens. Or maybe Nessie has magic powers.

Moving quickly onwards to their alternate topic, Clarkson thinks that he can improve on the touch-and-go voice recognition in cars. He has done so by hiring a man to sit in the passenger seat and do some very simple tasks. Until this point, his ideas have been ludicrous but clearly just poor jokes. His next plan is to remove the stuffing from rear seats and replacing them with female Thai masseuses. Once again, he has stepped too far and could do with being taught some manners.

Maserati’s: Part Two

Having replaced the rubber penis with a live cactus, The Grand Tour continues on their trip to Honfleur. Being a quaint and rustic little town, streets are tiny, cobbled and poorly signed. Despite carefully following the road markings, Hammond and Clarkson meet one a one-way street – going opposite directions. After many hours careful negotiating, all three convene at the hotel to plan their epic climax – a dead race back to England with the loser selling their car. May has never truly driven his car and the other two love theirs. The stakes are high.

Following an unusual start – Richard getting lost, Jeremy stalling and James quoting the fable of the Tortoise and Hare – Hammond a strong lead and Clarkson loses both engine and brakes on the downhill of a steep bridge. In true Grand Tour fashion, that fails to slow him down once he secures a truck to carry his car on. After deciding that the quickest way to the ferry is through the backroads of the port, Hammond spends an hour lost amidst shipping containers and Jeremy somehow drops his car. Although they pull up to the ferry together, James has secured the ‘Grand Tour yacht’ and plans to ‘hop aboard’.

As James’ car was only bad through a broken driver and two trained Maserati specialists couldn’t uncover the fault which caused Jeremy’s car to break, The Grand Tour is forced to conclude they have once again wasted time.

Observations

  • With the theme of remakes now spreading to the motor industry, I hereby dub the common era ‘The Age of the Reboot’. That said, I now want an Abarth, reboot or no.
  • Last time these three did second-hand supercars, an engine literally blew up. Part of me honestly expected a wheel to come off and somebody to die.
  • His previous ‘fracas’ was bad but everybody got what they deserved. Could we do a slightly smaller one to get Clarkson to behave? These ‘inventions’ need to stop.
  • Seriously, though, why can Clarkson always find a dildo whenever he needs one? In the Namibia Special, they had just left a large city. This time, they had barely arrived before he pulled one from nowhere.
Graham Host
Graham Host is a member of the Fan Contributor program. In his spare time, he enjoys the works of Terry Pratchett, DC Comics and a wide assortment of video games. Under no circumstances should he be fed after midnight. Contactable only via Twitter or trained carrier pigeon.
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