The Grand Tour week three: 700 horsepower in a 20-year-old taxi


Enlarge / One of these cars is not like the others, one of these cars does not belong. (credit: Amazon Prime)

People enjoy talking about The Grand Tour, if the comment threads for the last couple of weeks are anything to go by. Episode one blew several pairs of socks off collected Ars staffers in much the same way episode two didn’t. In fact, the drop in quality week-on-week shocked everyone—probably overshadowing the whole DriveTribe thing. This week the tent comes to us from Whitby, a fishing village in Yorkshire, England. Perhaps the local vibe helped, for our three hosts are all Yorkshiremen, and on home soil the show was in fine form.

Most importantly, we got to see an actual grand tour on The Grand Tour. The show is named after the trips around Europe that served as a gap year for rich kids in the 18th and 19th centuries until the Industrial Revolution and those infernal steam engines came along and democratized the whole thing. Jeremy Clarkson and James May take the theme to heart with a trip through the grand cities of Italy. Starting off in Siena and ending in Venice, the plan is to combine art and opera with an appreciation of two of Britain’s finest cars.

Appropriately these are a pair of Grand Tourers, machines built to cross continents in style (and at speed if necessary). GTs are an under-appreciated expression of the motoring form, not as flashy as the mid-engined sports car but often similarly out of reach to the average citizen. Combine a two-door shell with a sybaritic interior and a big powerful engine—preferably a V12—driving the rear wheels and that’s a GT. In this case, it’s Aston Martin’s new DB11 and the Rolls-Royce Dawn drophead coupé.

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