This was easily the best film in The Grand Tour season two yet. And there were no explosions or jokes about Hammond's crash.
If you’re someone who complains about The Grand Tour’s lack of informative car content, you need to watch the most recent episode. Yes, it featured a film with Hammond and May mucking around with a mobile fuel filler, but we also got to see Hammond put the hardcore Lamborghini Huracan Performante through its paces without crashing. Joking inside, it was an insightful review that highlighted the improvements to justify the extra $55,000 Lamborghini is asking for, despite not having a significant performance advantage over the standard Huracan.
The real highlight, however, was Clarkson’s love letter to the Lancia 037 and how it defeated Audi in the 1983 World Rally Championship. Using period-correct cars, it was a classic tale of the underdog succeeding in extreme circumstances told by Clarkson with surprising sincerity. Tonally, it was unlike anything we’ve seen in this season.
It felt like we were watching a well-produced mini-documentary, complete with interviews featuring the original drivers. The 1980s was a turning point for rallying, as all-wheel drive cars could compete for the first time. This spawned the technically advanced Audi Quattro S1 which set a new benchmark. Lancia’s answer was the front-wheel drive 037 Rally, which was completely outclassed by the Quattro in the dirt. But by working around the championship's rules and regulations and deploying underhand tactics, Lancia miraculously won the championship in what was one of the most gripping motorsport duels of all time.
Clarkson also got to drive the road-going Lancia 037, and you can immediately tell how special it is. It’s proof that the presenters are perfectly capable of producing compelling car films without resorting to their comedic caricatures. James May did a similar film in the last season about Ford’s rivalry with Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans which was just as fascinating and well-told. A note to Andy Wilman, the producer of The Grand Tour: more films like these, please.