'Top Gear' (USA) Recap: Sneaking Around In 'Electric Cars'
November 6th, 2013 8:28am EST
Now that our Top Gear hosts have been deported back from Canada, it's time for them to turn their attention to electric cars. It's the usual shenanigans: show up in a locale (this time it's Michigan) with three different rides, put them through a series of challenges, and then the winner (probably Tanner) gets to drive some awesome, tangentially related supercar.
There's the Fiat 500E for Adam, the Nissan Leaf for Rutledge, and the Ford Focus Electric, which unsurprisingly goes to Tanner because he drives a Ford Fiesta on those days when he's obliterating other racers. While Rut is confused by the Leaf, the lack of standard car noises disappoints everyone. Although, leave it to Adam to spot a potential upside.
Adam: I guess a silent car is good if you want to kill blind people.
It must be a Top Gear mandate that the first challenge of every episode is a drag race, and here it pits the trio of electric cars against the smoke and squeal of a Chevy Camaro ZL1. Can our heroes clock a faster quarter-mile time than the Camaro? Well, not in their present rides, but production has given them some electric-powered alternatives: a Chevy S10 truck, a Porsche 944, and a dragster with enough juice in its battery to allegedly "light up a suburb." Adam takes the truck, while Tanner declares for the dragster, leaving the bearded one with the Porsche.
Adam scares the hell out of everyone (as usual) while beating the Camaro's time by just one second; Rutledge scares himself while going more than a half-second faster than Adam. (One must laugh at the fact that Rutledge's idea of a shocked exclamation is a shoutout to the Aunt Jemima brand of pancake mix.) Tanner's dragster wipes the floor with everyone, though, coming in at just over eight and a half seconds, or more than three seconds faster than the Camaro. That's no surprise: you gave the professional racing driver the one actual racing vehicle in the bunch, what did you think was going to happen?
The second challenge also involves speed, but it takes place in reverse. Tanner's Focus does 20 MPH backwards, which is agonizingly slow in his book. Adam's Fiat hits 27 MPH, and he almost hits the foliage. Rut, who's employed a little trickery by asking someone at Nissan how to disable the Leaf's limiter, trumps the existing world record with 57 MPH. Of course, his colleagues are not impressed.
Tanner: It's a world record - and he almost just died.
On the way to their next stop, the guys begin to lament the difficulties of not being able to just pull over and refill their tank whenever necessary. Race Boy even suggests the cars should come with a Xanex dispenser to help with this anxiety. His nerves go away, however, when he gleefully realizes that the guys get to live out every car enthusiast's secret dream - driving in an empty shopping mall. Can they get from one end of the mall to the other while avoiding Segway-armed security? It's like Paul Blart: Mall Cop. Too bad Kevin James wasn't available.
While the guys strangely decide to travel as a pack initially, making them easy for the security guard to start stalking, they eventually go their separate ways. Tanner worries about not hitting anything, while Rut is pleased to see that the food court is still open even though no one else is around, and drives by to pick up a snack. Adam, the most likely to have had prior experience avoiding law enforcement, tries to camouflage his Fiat in a women's clothing store - and it actually works.
In his haste to avoid detection, Tanner takes out a sign, and the obstruction allows Rut to beat him to the finish line. With the two of them safe, the question then becomes where the missing member of the band is. Adam just barely makes it out the doors before the security guard can catch him - but what's more surprising is that nobody makes even one Paul Blart joke during the entire affair. That's a missed opportunity right there.
The fourth and final challenge involves making use of the aforementioned quiet motors. The guys have to sneak out of a house, drive their wheels around the cul-de-sac and back, and not set off an alarm progtammed to squeal if the noise level reaches anything above regular conversation. It's not killing blind people, but it's entertaining. Tanner being Tanner, he pops the alarm when he turns the very first corner, and then just stops caring about it. With the additional 40 seconds in penalties, his lap time is over three minutes. Tanner may be a hell of a race car driver, but he'll never be a ninja.
Rutledge decides to get a ladder in order to climb out the house's window, but drops it when he tries to deploy it, and it sets off the alarm when it falls over. It blares twice before he can even get to his car, a third time when he shuts the driver's door, and again when he closes it after getting out. However, his lap is flawless. But the penalties push him past the four-minute mark.
Adam is the most penalized of the bunch, racking up six alarms in his trip, for a total time of more than three and a half minutes. This teaches us that none of these guys are good at sneaking out of anywhere. While Tanner still has the quickest time and therefore wins the fourth challenge, he's tied with Rutledge on the overall scoreboard, with two victories apiece. We're not entirely sure how that makes Rut the winner, except for that maybe someone figured out that it might be nice to have Rut or Adam win once in awhile.
For his victory prize, Rut matches a top-of-the-line Tesla Model S against the same Camaro ZL1 from the drag race challenge, and wins. He compares it to "a cheetah being chased by wasps on a rocket ship." Afterward, he employs The Stig to match the Tesla against an S-class Mercedes, and the Tesla wins by three seconds. The Stig has no discernible reaction, but Rutledge is suitably impressed with the Tesla, and wants us all to share his enthusiasm. At least this episode ended without any cars sinking...
(c)2013 Brittany Frederick. Appears at Starpulse with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted. Visit my official website and follow me on Twitter at @tvbrittanyf.
Photo Credits: History