Good evening everyone, are you all ready for Christmas? If you haven’t done your Christmas shopping yet, you may have to put it off as there is a new episode of The Grand Tour to watch. What happened this week? Well, check out my run down of the third instalment of The Grand Tour. There is a warning though, this is likely to contain spoilers.
James May Drives A Kia
Yes, I’ll admit, the above title is not likely to fill many people with excitement, but don’t fall asleep just yet. You see, this is the Kia Stinger, the brand’s new sports saloon to take on its European competition. It’s the first rear-wheel drive Kia to come to the UK and it’s also the fastest, thanks to a turbocharged V6 petrol engine that is able to throw out 365bhp, meaning that it’ll hit 60mph in 4.7 seconds, with a top speed of 168mph.
As much as I love Clarkson, I do rather like James May’s road tests as they are little more nerdy and down to earth, it just feels a bit more of what a road test should be like if you ask me. Driving about some wonderful roads in Majorca, May slithers the car around the sunny tarmac that wraps around some wonderful scenery. As you would expect, the cinematography is on point, but not quite as good as the Clarkson’s Chiron test, but I’ll get on to that later.
All seems good from Mr May though, and the car appears to get his seal of approval, but how can you really tell if the car is any good? You race it against two skateboarders of course! These aren’t just teenagers that are obsessed with the Tony Hawks video games. No, these are men that are able to hit 75mph – a bit of word and four plastic wheels. Rather them than me.
It may not be a totally new idea, as they did these sort of races on Top Gear, but it was enjoyable nonetheless, and it was good fun seeing May get the back end of the Stinger out. It’s just mad to think that Kia has made a car capable of doing this – I would love to drive one. Cough, cough, Kia. I won’t tell you who won, but it wasn’t quite as close as I thought it may have been.
Roast Hammond With All The Trimmings
A recurring theme of this season of The Grand Tour is the constant jibes made at Hammond’s expense following his infamous Rimac crash. Some have said that the jokes are getting a bit old and although I still enjoy them, I can understand where they are coming from. In this episode’s Conversation Street, poor old Hammond gets a complete roasting from Clarkson and May, which I have to say, I found rather enjoyable.
The three of them exchange presents, well I say the three of them, it turns out Hammond got the pair of them nothing. In their typical fashion, they exchange silly gifts, which is something I always look forward to when the three of them get together. No car news was discussed though, so if that’s something you were expecting, you may want want to skip forward to the next bit.
You’re Not Fooling Me
The segment looked to be quite intriguing as Hammond and May discuss the concept of being able to take part in motorsport in you office lunch break, which certainly piqued my interest. The two of them descend on a business park in Dunstable before driving around a track that has been made using the roads within the business park and car parks. The pair take us around the track in a mighty Kia (another one) Picanto GT Line.
After their rundown of the track in the plucky city car, it’s time for two of the businesses within the complex to go against each other to see who is the fastest. However, this is where the film unravels for me. Now, I could be wrong – I don’t think I am though – but I’m pretty confident that all the drivers involved were professional drivers.
I know Clarkson, Hammond and May have staged things for TV in the past, but this one just seemed to obvious for me. As a day job, I work in an office, and I can’t think of anything that would be able to pull the same moves that these ‘office workers’ were able to pull off. If you get a chance, check out the guy driving the Vauxhall Insignia, it’s a bit hard to tell as he is wearing sunglasses, but I reckon it’s the same guy that took me up the Goodwood hill in the Ferrari 488 Spider. His name is Mauro Calo and as you can imagine, he is a very good driver.
in case you get a good enough glimpse in my video, then check him out in this video for Autocar. Again, I could be wrong, but I’d be surprised if I was. Going back to GT segment though, it was good fun, but it just too blatant that this was staged. Just look at the car control on offer, and the icy cool facial expression of those in the driving seat. If that were me doing that, I’d be smiling like the Cheshire cat! Pity, as I would have love to have seen actual people have a go, but maybe health and safety got in the way of that?
A Bit Of A Dull Face-Off
So far on this season of The Grand Tour, I’ve enjoyed Celebrity Face-Off, but I suppose nothing could be worse than Celebrity Brain Crash. This week we had the rather unusual pairing of Hugh Bonneville and Casey Anderson. The link between them? They both live with bears of course! Although, let’s be clear, the ‘bear’ that Hugh Bonneville lived was a CGI one – Paddington in case you’re wondering.
I’ll be honest, I found the interview a bit dull, which is kind of mad as the other Casey Anderson actually does live with a bear, but the interview – and the laps for that matter – just didn’t feel as interesting, although Anderson’s rather manic lap did spice things up a bit.
Clarkson Meets Chiron
As you may know, Top Gear has already done the whole Chiron thing, so The Grand Tour is playing catch up in this regard. As someone who had seen Chris Harris’ test earlier this year, it was interesting to see how Clarkson approached it. We join him in St Tropez where he tries to get across that you don’t need helicopters, as a the Chiron is able to cross countries just as well.
The film also sees the return of Giovanni, who you may remember from the The Beach (Buggy) Boys special in Season 1, which a fun little cameo. But we don’t really care about that do we, as it’s all about Chiron. For me, the camera work and the editing was the highlight for me, not that the rest was boring and not worth mentioning.
Clarkson is able to reel of simply mind-boggling stats about the almighty Chiron whilst taking it go skiing and driving around the Alps. It’s a tough life, but I suppose someone has to do it, eh? Towards the end of the film Clarkson pays homage to a short film that I hadn’t heard of if I’m honest, called C’était un rendez-vous. Some may say that Clarkson’s driving manner through the busy of streets of Turin was irresponsible, but I did appreciate the way how the film completely stripped back to just engine noise and driving shots.
Was it better than Harris’ version of the Chiron? Well, they take two different approaches and it’s been some time since I saw Top Gear’s version of the £2.5million hypercar, but from memory, I’d say I was more captivated by Chris Harris’ test, which I hate to say as I’m a big fan of Clarkson’s. However, I can’t be biased here, so I’d say TG wins on this occasion, but that’s not to say, GT put in a poor show, because it certainly didn’t.
This week saw another solid effort from the GT boys, but I definitely feel there is room for more growth but I feel it’s heading in the right direction despite what I believe to be an entirely staged segment at the business park. Both the Stinger and Chiron tests were solid, but the middle bit wasn’t quite as memorable.
Think of the show as a sandwich using fancy bread, but with own brand wafer thin ham in the middle. It’s not an awful filling, it’s just not as strong as it could be. Also, the hammond bashing may need to be dialled down a notch next show, otherwise, the jokes are likely to lose their potency. Despite this, the Stinger and Chiron were enough for me to give this episode a rating of….