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The Grand Tour Season Three Finale [For Reals] Episode – Review


The last episode – the real last episode, not the Mongolia Special – of “The Grand Tour” was finally released, bringing the third season to a somewhat anti-climactic close after the brightness of the Mongolia Special in the previous week.

This week’s episode began and focused on the overall demise of Ford motor cars in the UK and the place they played in British motoring culture, beginning with the Ford Cortina which was designed by the same designer as the Edsel, named after an Italian ski resort and spawned a racy Lotus version for seven years. The Cortina segment was highlighted by the appearance of James May as an automotive executive in a 1970s-style office setting and the prominent appearance of a “Rutland Centre” sign [sure to be caught by Eric Idle’s “Rutles” fans] behind Jeremy Clarkson as he waxed and waned about his dad’s Cortina. Additional highlights include Richard Hammond’s annoyance at his dad’s purchase of an Austin Allegro Estate Wagon during the gleaming Cortina Years and May’s assertion that his family had a Cortina GXL while his “mate’s family only had an XL – so he was scum.”

A brief, partially incoherent, version of Conversation Street intervened between Ford segments as the sole topic was the various hierarchies of bumpers, sunroofs and other automotive accoutrements on the British roadways of the trio’s youth.

This was followed by a segment on the Cortina’s replacement – the Sierra [think Pinto in the USA] – but really, the brief and sparse racing version of the Sierra produced in 1986-87 which was a very Saab 900-like creation they called the Ford Sierra RS500 Cosworth. The Cosworth engine and name were then attached to the Escort but by 1993, Ford introduced the Mondeo [called the Tempo or Contour in the USA] to the British market and that seemed to satisfy most of the UK for quite some time, enough so that the boys claim that the ST200 Estate version of the car is the only car they can agree that they all like. To emphasize that point, Hammond beats up a Toyota Picnic [a minivan which was never sold in the USA] that became popular in the UK and spurred the decline of the Ford Mondeo.

The episode ends with a somewhat overly dramatic announcement of the news that most “Grand Tour” fans already knew – that the in-tent episodes would be coming to an end with the current season and will be replaced next season with a collection of specials instead. The announcement was quite balky as it caused some initial confusion that the entire show itself was ending when, in reality, they were trying to be dramatic with the announcement of that part before announcing that they were, indeed, continuing the show, just not in its present format.

The multiple UK-centric, Ford segments will, of course, be met with indifference by most of the world who did not have either those same vehicles nor established those same bonds with said vehicles, but the boys are British and it is their show, so they are allowed to go on their precise tangents. The show-ending announcement could have been handled better and the episode itself should have been shown two weeks ago with the Mongolia Special as the third season’s proper ending [as an example of what to look forward to next season].

With all that said, ASN awards an 87 out of 100 for the episode and laments the loss of the audience/tent/ and most segments – many from “Top Gear” as well as some from “The Grand Tour” – it will not be the same show next year, but it will have the same people, and that is what is most important.

About Alex Bean

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