2011 Nissan 370Z CoupeEnlarge Photo
Last weeks Top Gear USA episode brought up some positives and some minuses. The pluses were that we were going to get our own version of a tried and true television formula, without so much ridicule towards the American way. The minuses were that three inexperienced hosts couldn't create award-winning chemistry right off the bat.
Thankfully, last night's airing of episode 2 can help relieve some of those worries.
First came a race, one of the classic Top Gear methods of road-testing a car. It involved a Lancer Evolution and a couple of skiers, something vaguely similar to the Lancer rally car versus a bobsled team from the UK version of Top Gear. The idea was to test the three modes of the Lancer's traction control system (tarmac, gravel and snow). Instead of really proving the system works, the film proved that Tanner Foust is a fantastic driver. Seeing the Evo drift around in the gravel and the snow was worth enduring the staged antics of the race, which was always sort of the point. Foust is so focused while driving that he doesn't come up with too much thoughtful commentary. Its almost like reading a bad high school English paper. Still, he is new to being a television presenter, and his future with Top Gear is looking bright.
Next came a film about Aston Martin, with Rutledge Wood narrating. From a cinematic standpoint this film had some of the best shots of the series so far. Then again, the Vantage will always look great, but seeing two of them blast across a dry lake bed with massive dust trails behind them was near pornographic eye candy. Rutledge did also prove that he can be an entertaining road tester in this film, although not nearly as hilarious as his British counterparts.
The Big Star, Little Car segment also showed great improvement over last week. Most of that could be credited towards Dominic Monaghan's personality and wit. In fact, Rutledge contributed very little to the interview, and provided almost no commentary during the lap. Isn't commentary how he got started in television with NASCAR?
Finally, the show wrapped up with the three hosts messing around with a couple of Nissan 370Z's. I won't give away many of the details for this challenge, but I assure you it brought a few laughs to the show. The guys seemed to be getting a bit more comfortable with each other during this segment, but Adam Ferrara still hasn't contributed anything to the show to make me personally like him. Hopefully he does a road test on his own in the next few weeks to prove his worth as a host of one of the most revered names in automotive entertainment.
So, episode two proves that while it may not yet live up to its British inspiration, Top Gear USA is still an entertaining program, and is nowhere near a waste of time to watch. Personally, I cannot wait for one of their cheap car challenges, because old American metal should help bring some personality into the show. A+ for improvement.