Jeremy Clarkson was the first to admit the trio’s adventures through Madagascar was difficult, as they took to the world’s worst roads in order to find hidden pirate treasure. Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May modified their respective cars to cope with such an onslaught, but what vehicle was good enough to follow them in order to film?
Clarkson said the following:
“I think it’s probably fair to say it was not the hardest, that would have been the North Pole, but the toughest roads we’ve ever driven on.”
He also admitted that the roads were so difficult, one of them didn’t even manage to finish, making Grand Tour (and Top Gear) history in the process:
“And it’s the first time, I think ever, that one of us fails to finish.
“The only problem is, it was filmed such a long time ago, we can’t remember which of us it was.”
The car that followed them? It was a Polaris RZR, chosen for its awesome off-roading abilities that were believed to be good enough to tackle the Route Nationale 5 that the episode was filmed on for the most part. It had sand, wet and thick mud, and rocks that the vehicles were expected to climb over, and the Polaris RZR XP 4 1000 ate these up with no issues, all while carrying a small camera team.
“With its combination of mud, rocks, sand, steep gradients and continual flooding, the RN5 is the most challenging road I’ve ever driven on,” said Phil Churchward, Series Director of The Grand Tour.
“What’s more, as well as being unbelievably bumpy, it’s also very narrow in sections with little room for mistake. So, all in all, not the easiest place to film a TV show.
“Quickly realising that a normal 4X4 wouldn’t work – no matter how trick the suspension – we chose the Polaris RZR. Not only did it ride the bumps, climb any gradient, and wade through constant flooded areas, it was incredibly easy to use as a camera platform – and we had over £200,000 of stabilised camera equipment rigged to it. Importantly, we never had to worry whether it would make it to the location each day.”
With a number of modifications such as 15-inch tyres, poly roof, windscreen, and a huge light bar to allow them to see what they were climbing over in the pitch black of the Madagascan night, this vehicle was unstoppable.