With the Vancouver experiencing unusually warm weather, the 2010 Olympics are shaping up to be somewhat of a letdown. The Canadian media is all over the fact that snow is being flown into Cypress Mountain, the site of some of the snowboarding events. Canada is supposed to be on the world stage, but this isn’t exactly the lead-up many were hoping for. No matter, they say, because the Olympics are still on home soil and we will be vying for its first gold medal at an Olympic games in Canada.
Canadians are supposed to be hyped and excited for international competition on our home turf, but not this guy. I see the Olympics as nothing more than the exploitation of a city for the benefit of a private organization, the IOC. Cities foolishly lavish gifts upon IOC members in the hopes of being chosen, and at the end of the 10 day extravaganza, the hosting city is left with billions of dollars of infrastructure that is destined to lay dormant and unused, a symbol of the brief flash of national pride.
The Top Gear Olympics, on the other hand, couldn’t make me happier. Even more amazingly for a Top Gear aficionado, I hadn’t seen this until today. Now, I’m sharing it with you. Enjoy!
I recently attended the 2010 Edmonton Motor Show where I saw the usual wares from the usual manufacturers. None of this was terribly exciting. The Canadian auto show circuit is now withering away, signalling the renewed cyclical scapegoatism that the motor car periodically enjoys. It will be years before the internal combustion engine is de-villified (again) and we are reminded (again) that electricity is merely a means of energy transmission, not itself a means of propulsion. George Santayana is attributed with the following quote: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”. This is perhaps a dilution of his original, but the meaning is retained. We usually take the quote in reference to international conflicts of armament, but this is too narrow. It was not by accident, by royal decree, nor divine intervention that the internal combustion engine gained popular acceptance in the latter part of the 19th century while the electric horseless carriage floundered. Nor will electric vehicles replace gasoline-engined ones in my lifetime. But I digress, because gasoline-fueled machines are alive and well. For now.
For Canadians, the Renaultsport brand-within-a-brand may be unfamiliar, which is just fine because Renault doesn’t currently sell its wares on this continent. Perhaps the first time you heard the name “Renaultsport” was when Top Gear Magazine made the motorsports division their Manufacturer of the Year for 2009. Or maybe you missed that too.
Even those of you who are already familiar with their current Twingo 133, Clio 200, and Megane 250 offerings, may not be acquainted with the storied brand’s previous models – all of which were the result of the accumulated artistry, engineering adroitness, and experience of the very best minds within the French company. I happened upon one such result this summer in Barcelona, Spain.
The numbers are in for the Canadian version of the 2011 Ford Fiesta and they’re after the jump, but first a refresher. While it may look very, very similar to the Ford Fiesta that Jeremy Clarkson did a “proper road test” of on Top Gear, in actuality it shares only 60% homology. But that doesn’t make it any less formidable of a competitor in the intensifying B-car segment. Honda Fit, this is a shot across the bow. Since we’re on the topic of Clarkson reviews, we thought you’d enjoy his seminal Ford Fiesta one, including such highlights as being chased through the interior of a shopping mall. By a Corvette.
When I first saw the Kia Soul in person, at the 2009 Edmonton Auto Show, I thought it was the most charming car there. It was such a notable departure for the Korean automaker, you could sense that the designers were having fun. And having fun is in awfully short supply these days. The thing just had, I dunno, spunk.
Now Jeremy Clarkson, the most critical and controversial automotive journalist/entertainer… in the world, has reviewed the Kia Soul. Just to recap, Mr. Clarkson is anything but fond of Korean manufacturers (as you’ll see in the video after the jump). In fact, he only seems to like Italian and British ones. With reference to the Kia Rio, he once wrote:
“You may have seen The Fly II, in which a scientist attempts to teleport a dog. In one of the most gruesome scenes I’ve seen in a film it arrives completely inside out. Well the Kia Rio is uglier than that.”
This was followed by a rating of 1 star and a verdict of “Absolutely dire”.
So reading his review of the Kia Soul (link after the jump), I was understandably perplexed by his statements such as “I think it looks brilliant, especially if you order it in ivory white because then it looks like the eco-house I dream about building but never will.” Then there’s the closing statement, a statement that had me staring at my MacBook screen in utter disbelief:
“I miss it. And that is remarkable because that makes it the first car from the Pacific rim that is more than 1.2 tons of metal, glass and plastic. The Soul is that as well but it has a personality. It wormed its way into my heart.”
I think the old man has gone soft. Maybe it’s time they pass the torch on to someone else. Like us.
Ok, that’s not an exact quote, but Episode 3, which aired last night, was the best of Season 14 thus far. If you haven’t seen it yet, go here and enjoy it. Am I the only one who noticed the increasing friction between Jeremy and James? If looks could kill, Jeremy would be deader than John Candy.
The episode feature saw Jezza and the Hamster testing Lancia’s notoriously poor reliability record in an endurance race before thrashing a Stratos and a Delta Integrale along UK’s stunning and picturesque coastal B-roads. The cinematography was its usual high-calibre and the banter was its equal.
This summer, I also had a Lancia experience. It’s below.
A few days ago we saw an excerpt from Jeremy Clarkson’s new Duel DVD. Now, another. Some of you may remember when Jeremy, James, and Richard when to Spain to wage the battle of the German super-saloons with the Audi RS4, Merc C63 AMG, and the BMW M3 (yes, I know they used the coupé). At the end of the Stig’s track session in each car, and after the M3 had thoroughly trounced the other two, Clarkson was so upset with the Stig’s lack of car control in the C63 that he challenged the robot in the white suit to drift the car precisely over an apple on the edge of the track.
Well this is kind of like that. But with a Jaguar XKR convertible. And scuba flippers.
The German super-saloon battle is below, just to refresh your memory.
You read the title correctly, meaning that you’re literate. Well done. Now, I know this is a big leap of faith, but I believe that you’ll also be able to press the “Play” button to watch Top Gear’s most entertaining (and most critical) host doing a Tanner Foust impression with an Audi R8 5.2 FSI. So what are you waiting for?