The ex-Top Gear trio made their triumphant return to internet video this evening with the premiere of The Grand Tour. It opened with a bang: a battle between the Holy Trinity of hypercars. Porsche 918 vs. McLaren P1 vs. Ferrari LaFerrari. Why, then, was the Ferrari excluded from one test we know it can do?
The Grand Tour’s task was to determine which lustworthy ride was the best, so in true We’re Not Top Gear We Swear style, they set up a series of tests. To annoy James May, who was in the LaFerrari, Jeremy Clarkson proposed a drag race the show claimed it couldn’t do.
“Let’s make the first test a drag race using electrical power only,” Clarkson said.
I’d have given Clarkson a pass if he had said “electric mode” or something that clearly indicated a setting on the car, but he merely says “electrical power only.”
“No, it isn’t a good idea,” May protested to Clarkson. “Because you can’t drive the Ferrari on electrical power only.”
“It’s a KERS system like a Formula One car,” May continued. “It’s got a V12 engine and an electric motor, but they’re all integrated. They work together all the time. You can’t separate them.”
May’s excuse for not taking part in this drag race doesn’t check out. Jalopnik has even posted two separate videos that show a silent, non-V12-powered Ferrari moving around using its 161-horsepower KERS-fed electric motor. The car’s V12 is earthshakingly loud, so it’s obvious when it’s running and when it’s not in both videos.
Autoweek noted Ferrari’s limited all-electric range in their review of the car:
Porsche’s 918 and McLaren’s P1 are both plug-in hybrids and both have limited all-electric range. Ferrari’s battery is smaller than those in the McLaren and the Porsche, and Ferrari has included very limited all-electric capability at the request of some customers.
Even if “electric power only” is not an easily selectable mode, I feel as if there could have been some workaround to make it happen for this test had Ferrari given The Grand Tour a longer leash.
Of course, Ferrari doesn’t really advertise an all-electric mode as something drivers can select and use, so of course they wouldn’t let James May run it on electrics only on the single most anticipated show premiere of 2016. They also prohibited James from driving the car on public roads by not registering the car for road use.
Fortunately, all of the restrictions on May’s Ferrari became a running joke throughout the episode, so it’s not like Ferrari got away with limiting the use of their car scot-free. All three cars also had to use the same tires and ultimately went for hot laps driven by the same racing driver.
Still, why would The Grand Tour claim that the LaFerrari can’t move using its electrics alone when it’s already been spotted doing so? We valued Top Gear for its honesty and expect its ex-hosts to keep up that tradition.