The Grand Tour has had its fair share of both praise and criticism since the debut season last year. While there are certainly a large number of viewers who tune in purely to see their favorite motoring trio after their departure from Top Gear U.K., something Amazon was no doubt well aware of when offering the three men a hugely lucrative deal, and which they have taken advantage of to the fullest extent possible, using the show as a figurehead for Amazon Prime Video, there were still many who have not been convinced the show is all it could, or should, be.
The first season of The Grand Tour was frequently touted as being far too scripted, to silly, and not as focused on the machines as competitor Top Gear. While many of these criticisms simply missed the mark, failing to understand the obvious silliness Clarkson, Hammond, and May have always displayed, some were well founded.
Unlike many shows, it seems that Amazon, as well as producer Andy Wilman and the trio themselves, have taken much of the criticism to heart and the second season of The Grand Tour certainly reflects that. Gone is the maligned celebrity segment in which the guests met cheezy and untimely ends by way of various deaths, as is some of the more over the top scripted segments. In their place, TGT has added a more traditional celebrity interview format in which two celebs face off in a new Jaguar F-Type and the segments so far this season have been much more organic.
This weeks episode, which should now be available to everyone on Amazon Prime Video, is aptly titled “It’s a gas, gas, gas” and it certainly is. Richard Hammond, who is arguably the best of the trio in the role of reviewer, does so in the new Lamborghini Hurucan Performante to perfection. His passion, love of cars, and insights truly make this an excellent review that really raises the bar. Celebrity Face-Off has been doing well every episode and with the charismatic guests, this time was no different. The shining star of this episode, and in all regards, of the entire season so far, is no doubt Jeremy Clarkson’s documentary-style film about the epic clash between Audi and Lancia in 1983 during the FIA Group B World Rally Championship, the very last time a non-AWD vehicle won WRC. The WRC Group B Rally is an amazing page in automotive history, and I urge you to search the interwebs for films and stories about it, outside of The Grand Tour.
The film is done beautifully. It’s informative, exciting, and educational. Clarkson masterfully narrates the story of one of the greatest competitions in automotive history, comparing the clash between Lancia and Audi, to that between Ford and Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1966, and justifiably so. Automotive enthusiasts and those less inclined alike will be stirred by the story, the amazing videos showing how dangerous Group B really was, and learning about the drivers and their cars.
Episode 7 is a clear indication that The Grand Tour has certainly hit its stride and if it is any indication of the content we can expect in the future, then the future is bright.