Hey, remember that guy who used to present Top Gear? What was his name? Lanky fella, curly hair, generally offensive with a tendency to punch producers when presented with cooked meats? Jeremy Clarkson, that’s it!
Yes, well, turns out he writes a column for the Sunday Times and over two of his more recent submissions, he laid out the finest and most hateful cars he’s driven in the last 12 months. Here, we’re looking at five from each end of the quality spectrum.
Star car #1 – Mazda MX-5 2.0 Sport Recaro
It’s nigh impossible not to love the fourth-generation MX-5, a model which didn’t become the world’s best-selling sports car by accident.
Forget the ‘hairdresser’s car’ label, Mazda’s cheeky roadster lands right on the X when it comes to affordable thrills, wrapped up in a neat, pretty package.
In his write-up, Clarkson said it felt “how a sports car should” and praised its rawness and simplicity, before hailing it “a cure for depression”.
“You just can’t be in a bad mood when you’re driving it,” he concluded. We wholeheartedly agree, it’s just perfect.
Stinker #1 – Nissan GT-R Track Edition
JC slammed this track-day take on the GT-R as ‘pretty much useless’ in December 2015. The main reason for that was its rock-hard ride, which transformed the standard GT-R – a five-star car in JC’s view – into a no-star car.
“You actually feel the top of your spine bouncing off the inside of your skull,” he claimed.
Star car #2 – BMW M2
The performance-honed 2 Series is so good that it had Clarkson “actually dribbling with joy”.
This 365bhp hot hatch looks the part, sounds the part and drives the part, with Jeremy raving that it was “not just fast, but a complete delight”. He even went as far to suggest that it had dethroned the original 286bhp M5 as his favourite M car.
Stinker #2 – Volkswagen Scirocco
We’re with Jez on this one. That wild green shade and boy-racer silhouette hints at great things, but the truth is the Scirocco is just a Golf pretending to be hard – and not even the current seventh-gen Golf, but the less refined Mk6.
There was added heartache for JC this time, because the Scirocco was his first car, and after driving the current Scirocco, he wished he’d “[kept] love from the past as a memory”.
He bemoaned its lack of oomph and the car only served to remind him how much he wanted a Golf GTI.
Star car #3 – Volvo XC90
Has Clarkson really reached an age where he has nice things to say about a big Volvo? Age has nothing to do with it because this Q7-sized SUV is straight-up brilliant.
“Ooh, it’s a nice place to sit,” said the former Top Gear leader, before complimenting its size and spacious as well as its relaxed drive.
“This car is so good, in fact, that it’d be ideal for those who find the offerings from Land Rover a bit pratty,” he added.
Stinker #3 – BMW X1
No-one at BMW wanted to build this soft-roader, claims Clarkson, who hints that its sales success was an unfortunate accident that demanded a new version.
Even though Clarkson’s test model came with four-wheel drive, it only took a mild grassy patch to send him skidding about all over the place.
“Because you know just how good BMWs can be, you expect something better,” he concluded.
Star car #4 – Ford Focus RS
Another car which presses plenty of sentimental buttons for Clarkson, who had an Escort RS Cosworth in the early 90s. Thankfully, Jeremy knew the Focus RS was “something very special” within yards of driving it.
He reckons this 345bhp hot hatch could keep up with, and then overtake, supercars five or six times more expensive.
Stinker car #4 – Zenos E10
You’d expect a bonkers sports car with no doors, no windows, no radio, or even a roof to be right up Jezza’s street. But no.
The problem is mostly down to Jeremy himself though. The E10 is blatantly a track car but most of his testing was on public roads. Silly boy.
Star car #5 – Ferrari 488 GTB
It wouldn’t be a proper Clarkson list without a brash supercar in there somewhere, and we’ve gone for this 661bhp turbocharged Ferrari over the Lamborghini Aventador because, as JC puts it, “this new car puts the prancing horse back on top”.
He borrows and bends BMW’s slogan by saying that “as a driving machine, it’s perfect”.
Stinker car #5 – Hyundai i800
We had to end on this one because it had us tittering more than any other entry. Jeremy “would rather apply sun cream to James May’s back” than have to get into a Hyundai i800 again.
“Even if it’s three in the morning and it’s raining and I just want to get home and it’s what the taxi driver happens to be driving, I’d rather sleep on a bench and catch flu,” he rants.
He acknowledges that Hyundai know how to churn out a good car (see the i30 and ix35/Tucson), but a car this boring, slow, ugly and awful only exists to serve European Catholics who have “had too many children and are consequently too exhausted to notice that they were going at just six mph”. Ouch.
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