05 November 2006
Weekend Papers Motoring section roundup
Mark Holland

While I’m not an avid reader of the weekend newspaper motoring sections I do like to read what Jeremy Clarkson in the Sunday Times and James May in the Saturday Telegraph have come up with. Both writers take an entertaining, sideways look at ‘motoring’ - not a word I’m keen on really. The opening three quarters of Clarkson’s column is usually about some off-at-a-tangent topic which he’ll then, almost as if by magic, manage to relate to the car he’s supposed to be reviewing. I say usually because I seem to recall him waffling on about cheese for the entire article once when he couldn’t think of a single worthwhile thing to say about a Vauxhall Vectra. Meanwhile May often whitters on about old Jaguars or his Porsche Boxter with the brown trim in his charming, affable young fogey style.

This week: Clarkson, in his roundabout fashion, reviews the Renault Clio Sport 197, a 2-litre hot hatch which supposedly includes air vents behind the front wheels and a ground effects inducing ‘diffuser under the rear bumper’ which are by products of their Formula One programme. Along the way we get treated to Clarkson’s views on Michael Schumacher (he’s a fan), Fernando Alonso (a fish nicker!), F1 and the dwindling appeal of the hot hatch. Cracking stuff.

James May on the other hand ruminates on torque. I remember Newton Metres and turning moments from school physics lessons but had never really fathomed what they were up to within cars. And now, thanks to James, I do. It’s just a shame he over did the Newton Metres with his two-foot long wrench.


Bonus features:

Car enthusiast Jay Leno raves about Richard Hammond and Top Gear whilst Clarkson is caught riding a bicycle. Albeit one with a jet engine and a top speed of 70mph.

“I’m not loaning it to Richard Hammond because he’ll ride it into a field and turn it upside down,” he said. “It’s the first bike you can ride without wearing muesli sandals and a beard. It’s Lance Armstrong and Frank Whittle in one.”

Oh, and his saddle is set far too low.

  1. I thought saddle height was set to maximise torque (golly, we’re back to that) when pedalling - something of which I don’t think Clarkson was intending to do a great deal of.

    Posted by Patrick Crozier on  06 November 2006 at 02:13 am

  2. I think comfort comes before any other consideration. Then power and aerodynamics. If you’re not comfortable then you can’t be powerful.

    Not that this a problem for tootling about town or hanging on for grim life when the jet engine fires I’ll grant you. If I sat that low it’d a) feel like I had my knees around my ears and b) over time it’d strain the tendons and bands over the front of the knee as they’d be over extended at the top.

    Posted by Mark Holland on  06 November 2006 at 12:02 pm

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