In this week’s episode of The Grand Tour, a short man drives an orange Audi, a short man drives a red Skoda, and a tall man drives a short Lancia.
In the first film, Richard has a poke around the Eboladrome in the Lamborghini Huracan Performante, and miraculously doesn’t crash. Emphasis on the miraculous. Hammond is the show’s de facto Lamborghini specialist, as he was on Top Gear. It’s a classic review–crisply written, full of nice engine noises, and plenty of dazzling shots of a very orange Lamborghini doing very big speeds. James stops by for a drag race in his 458 Speciale, marking one of very, very few times that a power test involved more than one presenter. Of course, having May as a driver isn’t exactly fair to the Ferrari, but it would have lost anyway. Around the track in Abbie’s hands, it becomes the fastest road-legal(?) car they’ve ever had. Very nice.
(Side note: I don’t usually mention Conversation Street in these, but I feel that it deserves a couple sentences, because it’s absolutely the funniest one this season. I don’t know what’s different, but the conversation simply feels more natural and there are more real laughs.)
Up next, Hammond and May devise a car-to-car refueling system to remedy the massive amounts of time people spend sitting in petrol stations. After one or two broken windows and a forcibly removed fuel filler flap, and a predictably unfunny explosion, they switch to two men crawling all over the car, which again results in an unfunny explosion. The final, functional solution is pulling the car onto a little truck with a pump on board.
For Celebrity Face-Off, two men who make a living punching other men, boxer Anthony Joshua and wrestler Bill Goldberg, head around the track and make Hammond very uncomfortable. Goldberg started out with a beautiful Pontiac Trans Am, and Joshua with a slightly less cool Vauxhall Astra. Joshua’s 1:18.7 beats Goldberg’s 1:20.4 by a considerable amount, despite both of them wiping out several times on one corner in particular.
Next comes one of The Grand Tour’s beautifully produced historical pieces like James’ GT40 segment last season, this time between the Lancia 037 and Audi Quattro. I won’t bother getting into all the details of the story here, but all you have to know is that it’s yet more beautifully produced, exceptionally written historiography, even including interviews from Lancia and Audi’s drivers. If you watch the episode for only one segment, let it be this one. It’s truly excellent car television. I you weren’t paying attention, you could easily mistake it for a BBC documentary about rallying.
On the whole, Episode 7 isn’t quite as strong as the previous episode in Colorado, if only because the previous film had such a generally strong major film. The only weak part of Episode 7 is that uninspired refueling segment, but the rest of the show is buoyed by the absolutely first-rate Huracan and rallying films. Let’s hope this isn’t simply the back half of a pair of strong episodes, as happened early on in the season, and that the streak keeps up. It’s well worth a watch.