Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Top Gear USA is a hit, but how does the show compare to Top Gear UK?

Source: Jalopnik.com

Just before Thanksgiving and after an already failed attempt by another network (NBC) and some bad predictions, Top Gear USA debuted on the History Channel to mixed reviewed by many. One of the reasons for the mixed reviews was no one really know what to make of the three hosts Adam Ferrara, Rutledge Wood and Tanner Foust.
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Of course for me, while I don’t know Adam Ferrara, but am a fan of Tanner Foust, it was Rutledge Wood that was the question mark and still is as I’m also a NASCAR fan and that’s where Wood’s comes from. Wood use to be on the SPEED Channel and in my opinion that wasn’t a success, but after four episodes, he seems to doing ok right now.

However, once the season started rolling out and fans started to get to know the hosts, Top Gear USA has became a hit. The show has received better reviews. I truly believe that the more episodes that the History Channel comes out with especially this season and at the level there at now, car guys will continue to embrace the show.

The format for Top Gear USA is pretty much the same thing as the Top Gear UK version. Of course you have the reasonable priced car, the Stig setting fast lap in each car and the challenges.

In the reasonable priced car which is a Kia Rio, wow could they spare it and get an American made car like a Ford Focus or a Chevrolet Cobalt, I mean this is the US version. But anyway, after five celebrities that have taken time, amazingly enough Kid Rock in the wet, set an impressive time of 1:43.9.

The Stig has made his first impression as well with the fastest lap around the Top Gear test track which the record is currently held by a Dodge Viper SRT10 ACR at 1:22.0 followed closely behind by both a Lamborghini Gallardo LP570-4 Superleggera at 1:22.8, and a Lamborghini Murcielago LP670-4 SuperVeloce at 1:23.4. But the most impressive fast lap wasn’t in a supercar, but a truck, a Hennessey F-150 VelociRaptor 600 at a 1:39.0, yeah a pickup truck, damn that was cool to watch.

But for me, it’s about challenges and so far the Top Gear hosts have done a few interesting ones to date, but it had to be the $1000 moonshine run challenge where the Nissan beat both a Cadillac and a Ford Thunderbird that caught my eye. Moonshine to NASCAR, what a concept…

But the most impressive had to be both the race up and down a mountain against skiers in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X GSR and Foust driving a Ford F-150 Raptor pickup through the desert at about a 120 MPH with cattle around to try and beat a parachutist. Both were priceless.

But how does Top Gear USA stand up against Top Gear UK?

As a huge fan of Top Gear UK that is about to enter its 16th season next year with hosts Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May, the concept of having another network in another country recreate Top Gear leaves me with mixed feelings especially in the United States. One thing to remember is that the BBC funds this show, not advertisers, so the hosts can say just about anything they want within reason about each car.

With that said, I would say that while it really is too earlier to tell, I can say that Top Gear USA follows most of the same lines as the UK version including most of the challenges like the $1000 cars. However I’m always going to favor the UK version, it’s the original that set the bench mark with some of the most extreme challenges and the outrageous hosts. But so far in the US version, the hosts haven’t had too much to say meaning negative against any of the tested cars and that’s one big thing that the UK version is known for.

But both are hit shows. What do my readers think?