No, The Grand Tour Isn't Reviving Cheap Car Challenges
Amazon refuted rumors about the coming season of The Grand Tour.
Cheap car challenges were a staple of the Clarkson-Hammond-May era of the BBC's Top Gear. Low on cost, but high on entertainment value, due to the likelihood of things going oh-so-wrong, these challenges were held originally to keep costs of the show down, as budget limitations were a regular source of concern for the hosts of the favorite British car show. The popularity of these segments, however, meant that they survived long beyond the show's budget problems, with one instance even appearing in the incomplete final episode of Clarkson-era Top Gear, with the hosts tasked with buying the best SUV possible for £250 (about $332).
These challenges were, by and large, absent from the first season of the show's spiritual successor, Amazon's The Grand Tour. The closest thing to a cheap car challenge that we saw was when they were asked to build environmentally-friendly cars based on a Land Rover Defender, and as a result, was one of the best episodes of the series. There was also the test between the Mazda MX-5, Zenos E10S, and Alfa Romeo 4C Spyder, but with prices well into the five figures, one cannot quite call that cheap.
One tweet from The Grand Tour's official Twitter account, heralding the release of a tie-in travel book, includes some photos that seemed to imply that the widely-adored segment would be brought back by Amazon.
One photo on Twitter shows a pair of sunken, muddy vehicles, including a Mercedes sedan and a first-gen Nissan Frontier pickup truck, topped with a grime-fearing Jeremy Clarkson. Another shows three older Jaguars before a snowy, mountainous backdrop, though the Jaguar theme can be presumed to be deliberate, as we don't expect a repeat of the BMW 325i convertible episode of Top Gear.
There's no third vehicle in the former photo, however, which pushes it into questionable territory. Past cheap car challenges have always involved three vehicles, sometimes more, with an undesirable backup car included for whomever was unfortunate enough to have picked a vehicle incapable of completing the journey.
The Drive contacted Amazon to verify whether or not these muddy vehicles were part of a return of the cheap car challenge, and Wednesday, we received a response from an Amazon Studios spokesperson, who stated that the segment will not appear in this season of The Grand Tour.
These challenges are yet another casualty of the legal environment in which The Grand Tour was born, with the BBC concerned that the three hosts would simply remake Top Gear with Amazon. As a result, a number of differences had to be made to allow the two shows to coexist, such as the substitution of The American for the faceless, unspeaking Stig. Even James May's legal right to say his signature swear, "oh cock," came up for contention while the legal groundwork was laid for The Grand Tour.
Though we are disappointed, we're still looking forward to seeing what this season of The Grand Tour has in store. Hopefully, it won't be a repeat of the first season 1, which was bordering on what Clarkson describes as "ambitious, but rubbish."