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'Top Gear' (USA) Recap: 'Small Cars' (3.02)

Brittany Frederick Brittany Frederick
August 21st, 2012 10:03pm EDT

Once upon a time, Top Gear put Jeremy Clarkson in a Peel P50 and it was one of the greatest clips ever made. This week, the American incarnation somewhat follows suit by asking its three presenters to compare diminutive vehicles, which is both hilarious and somehow, slightly mean. If anything, we learn that you should never turn your back on Tanner Foust.

Top Gear

After last week's trip to Detroit, the action is now set in New Orleans. Adam brings a ​yellow​ Fiat, which he refers to as a "jumbo shrimp"; a less excited Tanner is driving a Smart Fortwo, and Rutledge arrives with a Scion iQ. No one's coolness is going to get through this episode unscathed. The question will just be who gets humiliated less.

The first challenge is a "race" (quotes included) to Algiers Point, which involves driving through a minefield of parade floats. Sadly, none of them are destroyed. Rutledge decides to take the ferry and that proves to be a bad choice, knocking him out of contention. Tanner comes out of nowhere to cut Adam off and win the race, at least according to him. Some of us might say he cheated, again.

The boys have to leave New Orleans and make their way to the swamp, which allows them time to evaluate their cars. Adam refers to Tanner's car as resembling "a Home Depot shopping cart," and that's flattering compared to what he calls Rutledge's Scion. Rutledge is thrilled to find 60 MPH. Tanner starts growling like the terrier his car reminds him of, then notes this jaunt resembles the beginning of a horror movie and they might just be murdered.

They then decide to see which vehicle is more popular, judging by honks of the horn from passing traffic. Adam's Fiat seems to be an overwhelming success, but that may be because he put "Honk three times for Jesus" on the back of it. When they arrive at the swamp, they're met by a dozen or so "swamp people" who are not impressed. The next challenge is for our hosts to go hunting with the locals. To that end, Tanner goes for camouflage, Rutledge arms up with a gun rack, and Adam...gives his Fiat some anatomy. Each of them picks up a passenger and sets out.

Rutledge is the first to spot something, that something being an alligator, which he scares off. Tanner gets his Smart Fortwo stuck in the mud...and then Adam follows suit.  The shamed trio is thus sent out to go buy food at a local restaurant instead. This requires handling two dead gators and some crawfish, and results in a lot of uncomfortable cringing, squirming and swearing. Clearly, none of these guys should live anywhere that isn't near a full-service deli.

Tanner, being Tanner, pranks Rutledge for the second straight episode by freeing some of the crawfish so that they can run around the Scion. Rutledge's response is to give Tanner the (pixelated) middle finger and threaten bodily harm.

Before the barbecue, though, there's one last task to be performed: a tug-of-war between each host's car and a massive airboat. Tanner is the first to go, and is roundly dispatched. Next up is Rutledge, whose Scion puts up little fight against the airboat. This does not inspire confidence in Adam, who goes on a huge rant after he loses. "These cars belong in the city, and you know what, ​I​ belong in the city," he declares. "This is crazy."

So who wins and who gets stuck in the ​really​ small car? As usual, our threesome can't agree. Rutledge is somehow named the loser, and is sent back to his hometown of Senoia, Georgia to drive the Peel Trident in a not-victory tour. This includes stopping for his morning coffee, going grocery shopping (during which he can't reach the high shelves), and visiting his mom before going to work at Atlanta Motor Speedway, where he gets to be the pace car. Being Rutledge, he does the whole thing with a smile on his face, albeit a little freaked out now and then.

What did we learn from this week's ​Top Gear​? Don't take a small car to a swamp. Crawfish are not your friends. Rutledge's mom is awesome. And if you're going to lose, at least be able to laugh at yourself. Until next week...man, we've got to fix this counter. I think it might be broken.

​Adam Ferrara Destruction Counter: ​2 episodes / 0 cars destroyed or rendered inoperable

For more from Brittany Frederick, visit my Starpulse writer page and follow me on Twitter (@tvbrittanyf).

(c)2012 Brittany Frederick/Digital Airwaves. Appears at Starpulse with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted.

Photo Credits: History


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