In this week’s episode of The Grand Tour, some SUVs do offroading, a famous girl drives a Jaguar, and a minivan has some weird doors.
This week’s feature film is a comparison of the Porsche Macan, the Alfa Romeo Stelvio, and the Range Rover Velar. It’s set in Canada, which the trio haven’t visited since an episode of a certain car show that shall not be named. It begins with a rip around a Canadian track, which Alfa wins by about six seconds, though likely because if Hammond really went for it his wife would leave him.
Next, the presenters have to put dogs into their cars. Yes, you read that right. After a little bit of…untoward conduct on the dogs’ part, they flatly refuse to enter the SUVs and stay there. Having tested both the Sports and Utility aspects of the cars, it’s time for the Vehicle part: specifically, seeing whether they’re faster than a horse in barrel racing. Hammond’s Porsche immediately gives up the ghost, and its AWD system goes into limp mode and ruins his time. Predictably, May gets lost, and still manages to beat Hammond’s time, which is probably some kind of historical first. The Stelvio makes the same error as the Porsche and enters limp mode for the remainder of the lap, but at least it makes a stunning noise while doing so, meaning that James May, possibly for the first time in recorded history, has finally won a race.
Clarkson’s review of the Tesla Model X happens at last too, which I’ve been waiting for for a long time. He runs us through a bunch of Tesla’s signature Easter eggs, and then takes to the road. Predictably stunned by Autopilot and the Summon feature, he also does the requisite drag race against something which should be a lot faster, in this case a beautiful yellow Audi R8, which the Tesla absolutely stomps until about 120 miles an hour. Unfortunately, the next part of the film demands a cadre of lawyers in the remaining six seats, but they are quickly locked inside in a tight parking space thanks to the Model X’s useful Summon feature.
In Celebrity Face-Off, two of the world’s most famous golfing enthusiasts, Rory McIlroy and Paris Hilton, take to the track in the F-Type. Apparently, Paris is much more of a gearhead than I knew before, and even if her taste in Bentleys is somewhat questionable, it’s clear that she has a real appreciation for cars. Rory’s Ferrari enthusiasm pays off, though, and his 1:21.9 handily beats Hilton’s 1:25.8.
Returning to the SUV comparison (this time with Clarkson in an F-150 after his Alfa was conveniently “stolen”), the presenters are tasked with a race while towing three boats. Hammond gets stuck pretty much immediately, though he still makes it farther than May, who takes forever to set off at all. Many, many offroad mishaps later, it becomes clear that the only way to reach the finish line is going all the way around the lake at the end. Unless you’re May, who, with an ounce of common sense, realizes it’s quicker to just use the boat which he’s towed all this way–but it still can’t save him from Clarkson and Hammond, who make it to the end first and second, respectively. Ah, well. No winning streak lasts forever.
There are a few episodes that make it extremely satisfying. One is the excellent Tesla review, which was much more positive than I expected, and the other is that it’s got a lot more genuine banter between the presenters than usual. Stuff goes wrong, and it feels natural, which is exactly how it should be. It helps that the SUV challenges aren’t overdone and seem to be geared towards fun instead of explosions. Definitely worth a watch, if you’re in the market for an Alfa Romeo Stelvio/Range Rover Velar/Porsche Macan/Ford F-150.