Tag Archives: richard hammond

The Grand Tour: S2E4 – Unscripted [Review]

What show other than The Grand Tour has made an entire episode in direct response to audience feedback? Well, TGT’s entire second season has actually be just that, but they dive even deeper this episode.

Episode 4 starts out with another great review. This time we get to see the amazing Mclaren 720S reviewed by Richard Hammond. The best part, he doesn’t crash it!

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The review is thorough enough, and while I don’t totally agree with Hammonds opinions on the car, it makes for a great automotive film.

The show’s new test driver, Abbie Eaton, has her way with another 720S on The Grand Tour’s track. She and the car manages an impressive lap. Abbie can definitely drive and is still a marked improvement over last seasons driver.

Mclaren 720S Abbie Eaton

Conversation Street this episode takes an interesting turn with the shows annual awards being given out. They are, of course, nonsensical and ridiculous, but great and a lot of fun.

The Grand Tour Awards

The main feature of Episode 4 is the title inspiring portion. The boys go on a “totally unscripted” trip to Croatia to do, well, whatever they can come up with. There wasn’t a script after all.

You may recall that one of the largest criticisms of Season 1 was the feeling that some episodes were over-scripted, this is The Grand Tour’s rebuttal to that criticism.

The Grand Tour Croatia

With no location scouts, no preplanned destinations, and no real goals, the segment definitely feels unscripted. Mostly. We’re treated to some great bits covering the new Audi TTRS, the Ariel Nomad, and a an old clunker, no not James May, his car.

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While the film takes a while to get going, it does end up being a pretty solid film. There are some good laughs,  great driving, and epic backdrops. It’s nice to see The Grand Tour continuing to experiment as the show evolves.

Ariel Nomad

I would be remiss not to mention Episode 4’s Celebrity Faceoff. This segment, as you would expect, is heavily dependant on the guests and there being a certain level of charisma to make it watchable, and this episode’s guests had it by the truckload. Great stories, tons of laughs, and some entertaining laps made this faceoff on of the better ones.

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I won’t give you any spoilers for the rest of the show, but I will say this; it was pretty great to see someone other than Richard Hammond go down in flames for a change.

We give Episode 4, four stars out of five.

 

4stars

 

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The Grand Tour: S2E3 – Bah humbug-atti [Review]

To say The Grand Tour has hit its stride would be putting it lightly.  Where-as in Season 1 TGT stumbled like a toddler, in Season 2 they’ve certainly grown and come into their own as full-fledged adults, or as close to adults as Richard Hammond, James May, and Jeremy Clarson possibly can be.

While I strive not to come across as a so-called “fan-boy” of any one automotive show, I can’t say enough good things about Episode 3 of TGT.

The episode starts with James May giving us a superb review of the somewhat new Kia Stinger. The review is so far the best and most “traditional” car review that we’ve seen so far from The Grand Tour this season. I would bet that there will not likely be any others that are more in-depth or more classicly done as this, as the show continues.

Kia Stinger GT

The segment features an entertaining challenge, beautiful backdrops, and left me rather impressed with Kia’s first foray into the sporty sedan market.

Kia Stinger GT on the coast

Conversation Street in this episode was an absolute gem. The comedic banter we all love to see from the trio was reminiscent of the glory days of Top Gear UK, mostly at Hammond’s expense, and is sure to make you “lol” at least a few times.

Conversation Street Episode 3 of The Grand Tour

One of the most entertaining segments in the episode, and what will surely become a highlight of the season overall, was the next bit, business park racing. The boys decide the best way to perk employees up during their mundane lunch breaks is to create a racetrack inside of a business park with two companies going toe-to-toe in their own vehicles.

Two cars racing

The whole concept was fresh, fun, and had some surprising automotive cameos. This is the kind of content I hope to see more of in the future from The Grand Tour.

The crown jewel of episode 3 is certainly fitting of that title. Jeremy Clarkson shows off the amazing Bugatti Chiron while attempting to prove that you no longer need a jet to be a “jet-setter”, although with the shockingly large price of the Chiron, really, you might as well have the jet and save a few dollars.

Bugatti Chiron The segment has everything you want from a Clarkson film. Humor, loud boisterous noises, (both from Clarkson and the car), beautiful scenery, and a healthy dose of car specs.

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The other segments of the film including Celebrity Faceoff, the in-between banter, and everything else, was top notch. Episode 3 was a shining example of the potential The Grand Tour has to be not only a highly entertaining show but one automotive enthusiasts as well as those who are not so petrol-minded can both enjoy.

We give Episode 3 five stars.

gold star

The Grand Tour: S2E2- The Falls Guys [Review]

With the smashing start to Season 2 of The Grand Tour the question on everyone’s mind is, can they keep it going?  The answer to that question is simply……

You didn’t think we’d actually make it that easy did you?

Episode 2 starts off with a bang and a big American one at that. Jeremy Clarkson takes us to one of the most iconic cities in the world, New York City, to drive one of the most controversial new supercars in the world, the Ford GT. Clarkson, as you may remember is a previous owner of the last iteration of the Ford GT ( which he owned for approximately one whole month), so it is no surprise to see that he chose to be behind the wheel of the newest evolution of the legendary supercar.

Ford GT

Jeremy gives us the type of clever, and smart-ass overview of the car that only he could. In exceptional fashion, Clarkson reveals several flaws of the car in an unbiased style that has been missing from the majority of other reviews of the GT (paid reviews anyone?).

Ford GT with Jeremy Clarkson

As it is with all episodes of The Grand Tour, this isn’t simply a review, it’s the main film, the theme of which is, which is a faster method of getting to Canada from New York City, the Ford GT by road, or using public transport (planes trains, and buses), which is the route James May and a somewhat physically inhibited ( see our review of S2E1 to find out why) Richard Hammond take.

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We won’t give any spoilers as to who wins this competition but it makes for a seriously funny film, and to the boy’s credit, they are still going exceptionally strong this episode.

Episode 2 continues carrying the torch of improved segments this season by including the refreshed Conversation Street and the newest segment, Celebrity Face Off.

Conversation Street Title Page

Conversation street keeps us happy in Episode 2 by including the classic back-and-forth banter that we’ve come to know and love for years now. It’s a solid bet that until the trio retires, no one will tire of it, and as such, it’s not going anywhere.

Episode 2 also includes an excellent review of the Mercedes-Benz AMG GTR, by Jeremy Clarkson. The review is done in brilliant fashion with beautiful cinematography, great info, and brilliant sound. Clarkson really shines.

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The GTR also completes the first timed lap of the Grand Tour track for Season 2. You might be wondering who drove this green machine, and the answer is the newest driver and replacement (thankfully) for the American, Abbie Eaton.

Abbie Eaton Driving

Abigail, or Abbie for short, is, according to her Wikipedia page, “… a racing driver from the East Riding of Yorkshire, England…” She’s had an impressive racing career for only being 25, with 21 wins to her name, and certainly is a breath of fresh air and a welcome addition to the show.

Abbie Eaton Driving

The guests for Celebrity Face Off this time are cricket star Kevin Pieterson and professional baseball player and former relief pitcher for the Giants and Dodger, Brian Wilson.

Kevin Pieterson and Brian Wilson on Celebrity Face Off

The guests, and especially the driving, this episode are quite a bit more exciting than the first episode & the segment as a whole is still a wildly big improvement from the often maligned Celebrity Brain Crash. In reality though, whether its Top Gear in it’s various iterations or The Grand Tour, the celebrity guest segments, except in rare occurrences, have always been a dull spot but The Grand Tour is working hard to change that.

So what did we think overall of the episode? The boys are clearly still going strong. Abbie Eaton is a great new addition, the new and refreshed segments still feel solid, and the quality of the show continues to soar. The only downside, we really would have liked to see the Ford GT do a hot lap.

We give Episode 2 of The Grand Tour Season 2, 4.5 stars.

4 out of 5 star rating

 

Tickets Now Available for The Grand Tour Season 2: Big Changes This Season

Amazon has done a great job at keeping what’s coming for the second season of The Grand Tour a secret so far. While some of this is fairly typical for any show, there is no doubt that much of the secrecy has been due to delays and rescheduling from the injuries, sickness, and other similar roadblocks the trio have run into over the past year or so.

We’re in luck though ( well, some of us), Andy Wilman, producer of The Grand Tour, has finally shed some light on the second season and given us something to be excited about.

Andy Wilman
Andy Wilman -Photo from Alchetron

It looks like we will no longer see the traveling studio that was introduced last season, so for those hoping to score tickets in their local area, you’re out of luck unless of course, you live in the Cotswolds area.

The Grand Tour Tent

Wilman said, in regards to the move,

“We’ll keep the studio in one place, and given how accident prone they are at the minute, that can only be a good thing!”

If you would like to enter for your chance to win tickets, follow the link here: TICKETS.

In addition to the changes in studio location, Andy also elaborated a bit on the content we will see in season 2. Andy went on to say,

“Customers continually tell us that their favourite segments of The Grand Tour are the travelling adventures of Jeremy, Richard, and James, so despite the various calamities and injuries along the way, the guys have spent this year exploring more incredible and stunning locations than ever before… and getting into more trouble of course.”

We now know that some of the amazing filming locations include some beautiful spots, such as  Dubai, Spain, Switzerland, Colorado, Croatia, Mozambique, and New York.

There are no other updates as of yet in regards to the format of the show or other content, but we will keep our ear to the ground and continue to be your number 1 source for all Grand Tour-related news!

Top Gear America: Episode 1: Made in America [Review]

Recently Top Gear has had a bit of a rough go. From the separation of its famed hosts, Clarkson, Hammond, and May, and their subsequent success on Amazon’s, The Grand Tour, to the utterly disappointing performance of replacement lead host Chris Evans, which saw the follow up season of Top Gear U.K.’s ratings take a nosedive to their lowest level ever, with only 1.9 million viewers turning in to the season finale.

After Evan’s departure, Top Gear has continued to have a tough time overall, with generally mixed reviews at best, so the question was, will the replacement for Top Gear U.S.A, aptly named Top Gear America, be any better?

It’s with a sigh of relief that I can confidently say, “yes”, it is in fact better. Not only is it better than Top Gear U.S.A, it’s quite easily better than the current iteration of Top Gear U.K.

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Featuring three new hosts, NHRA Top Fuel champ, Antron Brown, British motoring journalist, Tom “Wookie” Ford, and actor, William Fichtner. The hosts clearly fill archetypes any Top Gear fan will instantly recognize. One surprise is the chemistry the hosts seem to already have. While far away from the classic trio, they are themselves easily outpacing the current U.K. hosts. Maybe the BBC sent them all away on a team building expedition before filming.

The premier episode features the typical Top Gear segments we’ve come to know and love. There’s an adventure/challenge feature, a celebrity guest who drives a reasonably priced car, and a couple of reviews.

The adventure segment takes our new hosts south of the border to Mexico. Their challenge, to drive two Baja Beetles 212 miles from Mexico, back to the U.S.A, in the spirit of the famed Baja 1000 race.

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While the script seems a bit forced at times, the segment is actually really well done overall. There’s the great cinematics that we’ve all come to expect from Top Gear, fun action clips, and a some good humor, even if it is a bit forced, such as where one of the Beetles “runs out of gas” or really without giving too much away,  the entire premise of the segment.

The review of the new Acura NSX is a shining feature in the new Top Gear America’s roster. While recent reviews on both Top Gear U.K. and Top Gear U.S.A, before it ended, were pretty bad, if not outright unwatchable, Tom “Wookie” Ford does an excellent job giving the NSX a well deserved review. No condescension, no ridiculous out of left field opinions, and no unnecessary hype. While the back in the studio follow up has the scripted me vs you opinions built in, it does little to take away from the actual segment.

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Top Gear America’s celebrity segment is now far improved from even the classic Top Gear.  This episode features professional baseball player (now retired) C.J. Wilson. The segment was brief, to the point, and very well done. The chemistry between the guests and the host was there, and the questions related to the show. We didn’t see any of the over the top nonsense from recent episodes of  Top Gear U.K. and none of the crazy celebrity “appearances” that many hated in The Grand Tour’s Celebrity Brain Crash.  The actual lap on TGA’s new track, located in Las Vegas, Nevada, using a 2017 Honda Civic, was done right as well. Although it lacked any drama, and the track itself is a bit underwhelming overall, it set a good direction for the show and Top Gear as a whole.

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The other segment of the show, a review of the new Ford Raptor, was done by William Fichtner. I’ll go ahead and say it now, William is the absolute star of the show and does the segment, and the whole show, masterfully. Whoever managed to get him to do the show deserves a raise because he really does carry the show. Fichtner may be the first solid lead on any Top Gear since Clarkson.

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Fichtner manages to capture some of that original Top Gear essence that I think we’ve all been missing since the trio’s departure. The soulfulness, the genuineness, the style that Top Gear so desperately needed, and used to have in excess. If you watch the new episode for one reason, it should be his segment on the Raptor.

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So, Top Gear America is off to a great start. Where does that leave us now? The Grand Tour premiers with its second season on Amazon Prime soon and if there’s any indication based off last season, it’s going to be a hit. Top Gear U.K. is still struggling to regain ground, but may very well be recovering, and  as for Top Gear America, it just may be the BBC’s new shining star.

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Hopefully they can keep it up, all of us in the automotive community need a good show like this. Let us know what you thought of the episode in the comments, and be sure to like and share!

Stay tuned to Automoguls for reviews of every new episode all season long, as well as reviews of The Grand Tour, Top Gear U.K, and much more.

Image Source: BBC America 

The Grand Tour Season 2: Sneak Peak Trailer

Debuting on Amazon Prime Day, the sneak peak trailer for The Grand Tour: Season 2, is here! The trailer which describes the show as;

the world’s greatest show about three middle-aged men rampaging around the world having unusual adventures, driving amazing cars, and engaging in a constant argument about which of them is the biggest idiot.”

showcases some very exciting looking clips which leaves the automotive community around the world with a lot to look forward too.

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Examining the trailer we see a bit of something for everyone. From some sort of tank crashing through walls, to the already infamous Rimac that Richard Hammond had his recent crash in during a hill climb event, which ended in a fiery blaze, to a few other high level exotics such as the AMG GT, Mclaren 720S, and Bugatti Chiron.

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While the last season of Top Gear (U.K.) received abysmal ratings, per IMDB, with an average of just over 2 out of 10, the premier season of The Grand Tour soared to the number one spot for auto and comedy enthusiasts, with nearly a 9 out of 10 rating, on the same scale.*

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If the trailer is any indication, would seem that the Amazon and the trio is aiming to hold on to their top spot this season as well. There’s obviously going to be a wide variety of classic hi-jinks, wacky adventures, and awesome cars which, undoubtedly, will leave most people happy.

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If there’s anything we can hope to see a lack of this season, it’s “The American”, some of the over-scripted segments, and the love-it-or-hate-it, celebrity segments.

What do you think of the trailer? Check it out below, and let us know in the comments!

 

 

*As of the time of publishing

Photo/Video Credit: Amazon, The Grand Tour

The Grand Tour Episode 3 Review: An Instant Classic

The naysayers and doubters who rose up following The Grand Tour’s somewhat shaky Episode 2 have now been silenced all at once by the majesty that was Episode 3. From start to finish this week’s episode of The Grand Tour was everything we love about Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond & James May. This one, folks, will go down as a classic.

Episode 3 of The Grand Tour features the boys on a title adventure, a grand tour, through the European countryside with a series of beautiful stops along the way. Cars featured in the episode included an Aston Martin DB11, a Rolls Royce Dawn, and a Dodge Hellcat. Be sure and check out our articles on each one in the coming days. The episode also featured classic Top Gear-esque pranks, speed boats, race tracks, and Jeremy’s house being blown to smithereens! I fail to see how they could have done much better.

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The show begins with the boys each selecting their aforementioned grand touring cars for the coming trip. James being the refined one of the group is, of course, driving the Rolls Royce. Jeremy chooses the Aston, an artful balance of power and style. Hammond being well, Hammond, chooses the delightfully tacky but oh so powerful American Dodge Challenger Hellcat. The three hosts exchange the classic jabs at one another we’ve come to know and love during their time on Top Gear hitting us right in the nostalgia. The trio sets off from the scenic city of Siena, Italy en route to another timeless location, Florence, Italy.

Along the way we get to see more of the trio doing what they love, and what we love watching. This, of course, includes May being annoyed, Jeremy being pompous, and Hammond acting like an idiot. The three tourers then head to the beautiful racetrack known as Mugello Circuit in Tuscany, Italy. While there the classy James May take an absence to practice his watercolors while Clarkson and Hammond duke it out on the circuit to see who’s car is the fastest ’round.

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At this point, we come to the midpoint of the show where we are treated once again to the running segment Conversation Street. The segment which obviously is a replacement for the news segment on Top Gear has received mixed reviews up to this point and I don’t expect that to change anytime this season.  The trio discusses driving trends in the U.K.,local politics, precious gems, and of course cars. Jeremy also shows up Google in a surprise unveiling of his newest invention, a self driving car, so be sure and keep and eye out for it, or is poke your eyes out when you see it? You can be the judge of that. All around it’s an enjoyable segment with some good laughs, especially for those who appreciate a bit of British Humour.

After wrapping up in the studio, we start back up on the grand tour focvllowing a narrow victory ( you’ll have to watch to see who’s). Clarkson, Hammond, and May leave the circuit along with several of Hammond’s tires and travel to the Vicenza main square where Clarkson & May attempt to ditch Hammond with a cleverly thought out social media post. Leaving their friend behind the hosts head to their final destination of Venice, Italy. Unfortunately for them, they aren’t the only motoring show hosts who make it to this point and they get a bit wet finding out the hard way.

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After finishing their grand tour the boys are back in the studio and we are once again graced with the Celebrity Brain Crash segment. I for one am a fan of this segment, but it seems audiences are split on it at the moment, and I don’t know if I can confidently say we will see it continue on into another season. This episode’s celebrity guest is Simon Pegg who meets with a bit of bad luck as is the usual for the show’s guests. Let’s just say his unfortunate end involves ice cream, seagulls, a bridge, and well, you’ll see soon enough if you haven’t already.

Episode 3 really ends with a bang. No seriously, a huge bang. There’s a massive explosion and it’s set off by none other than Mr. Boring, Captain Slow, James May! You may remember a certain bet from Episode 1 that an overconfident Jeremy Clarkson made with Richard Hammond and James May and in Episode 3 the terms of the bet come to fruition in this delightful show of fire. It’s the perfect way to end a perfect episode of The Grand Tour. I think it may have left the BBC shaking as they prepare the next season of Top Gear.

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And on that terrible disappointment…