Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Top Gear US Season 2 Episode 6 "The $500 Challenge"

On this episode, the guys find out what kind of car you can get for $500, Rutledge tests the CTS-V range, and Maroon 5's Adam Levine test his driving skills in a Suzuki.

Segment 1: $500 Car Challenge Introduction.

Ford Festiva
Mercedes-Benz 190 E
Ford Crown Victoria Taxi
The show starts with Rutledge narrating the challenge that the boys will be doing. They are to find out what is the best car you can get for $500.  Rutledge arrives first in a 1990 Ford Festiva. Rutledge says that he used to flip cars while in college and that he has owned eight cars that cost lest than $500. He says that when looking for a car, you want cheap, reliable, and simple. That is why he got the Ford Festiva with over 227,000 miles on it and has a new engine.He says it is a huge piece of crap. Tanner arrives next in a 1989 Mercedes-Benz 190 E. They joke that Adam will go for an old piece of crap. Adam arrives in a 1994 Ford Crown Victoria Taxi. The guys notice all the stains inside the taxi. The Taxi has over 425,000 miles on it and it is still running. The guys are given their first task.

Segment 2: 100 Yard Push Race

They are to race 100 yards across the parking lot. Because cheap cars are unreliable, they have to push their cars across the parking lot. The first one to cross the finishing line wins. Tanner tries to distract Adam and Rutledge by trying to get them to look at the beach. He quickly says, "Ready, Set, Go!" The Festiva is very light and Rutledge has no problems getting to the finish line. Tanner is second, bumping his Benz into the Festiva. Adam finishes last. The guys set off on their 500 mile journey from Santa Monica to Santa Barbara to Santa Cruz to Twin Peaks in San Francisco. The car that makes it to Twin Peaks first wins. The test is to see how the cars handle the highways, changes in elevation, and stop and go traffic. Right away, Tanner has problems starting his Benz.

Segment 3: $500 Car Explanation

Adam says that there is something great about owning a $500 car. You don't have to worry about payments, insurance is low, and you don't care about dings or dents. You don't have to worry about where you park it. You never have to wash it. And if it breaks down, you just leave it there. Adam says that cops and taxis love Crown Victorias because they were tough and easy to fix. Cops even have frame straighteners. Adam says the suspension is exhausted. There is a several minute delay between steering input and actual steering. Adam says that Tanner looks like an ambassador from a broke-ass country when he is in the Benz. Tanner is still struggling to get the Benz going. He finally succeeds in getting the Benz running. Tanner says the Benz does not look ridiculous like Rutledge's Festiva. Rutledge says that there are very few cars that are iconic and were made for a long time. The original Volkswagen Beetle was made up until the late 2000s. The first Volkswagen Rabbit was still being made in South Africa and other places. The Festiva is still being produced in Iran. Rutledge says the reason why the Festiva will make it to San Francisco is because it is the best car among the three. There is not a whole lot to the Festiva, but there is not a whole lot that can go wrong. Rutledge says to keep gas in it, don't overheat it, and change the oil. Rutledge says the best thing about the Festiva is that it is beating Tanner's Benz. Tanner says there are two thing you never want to touch with your hands, the steering wheel of a $500 car and the TV remote at a cheap motel. Tanner says the advantage to buying a $500 car with leather or vinyl is that you can clean it. The surface is made to repel bacteria. Tanner is getting serious vibration in the Benz. He is hoping that the Benz can go $500 miles. Tanner catches up with the other two in Malibu. The Festiva has trouble with the bumpy road. Rutledge finds dog hair in the center console. His A/C is not cold. The Festiva does not go very fast. There are stains all over the seats and floor. The steering wheel smells terrible.  Rutledge says that his car has not been driven nearly 500,000 miles by taxi drivers or cops, and it is not waiting to be crushed like the Benz. Rutledge says it is a perfect cherry of a Ford Festiva. Tanner says that he is being tortured because he his driving behind a Crown Vic and a Festiva, both going well under the speed limit in a no pass lane. Tanner finally hits a two lane highway and passes both Fords. Tanner takes the lead and is the first to arrive in Santa Barbara.

Segment 4: Break-In Challenge

To see which was the best at theft-protection, the guys must try to break into each other's cars. Whoever can break into another car first wins. Tanner will attempt to break into the Festiva. Rutledge will attempt to break into the Taxi. Adam will attempt to break into the Benz. The guys would have to use a coat hanger to break into the cars. Adam has no problem getting the hanger into the Festiva's door. Rutledge got the hanger into the Taxi's door. Adam struggled with the hanger. He says "Enough of this," takes a crowbar from the trunk of the Taxi, and smashes the rear window on the passenger side of the Benz. He opens the door says "I win!" Tanner gets the Festiva's door open. I give the victory to Tanner since he did not have to break a window to get into the car. Back at the studio, Tanner and Rutledge joke that Adam likes to break cars. He broke the window of the Benz. He jumped an old Caddy and bent it. Rutledge then says that GM is killing off old Caddies.

Segment 5: Cadillac CTS-V Review

Cadillac CTS-V Coupe
Cadillac CTS-V Wagon
Rutledge starts the review by saying that Cadillac decided to reshape its image by going with sportier, high-tech cars. He puts a $60,000 Cadillac up against a $200,000 Ferrari California in a drag race, but not before he has a little bit of fun in the different CTS-Vs. He starts with the CTS-V Coupe. Rutledge says that this is a Cadillac you want to drive. It has the LS9 V8 engine that is found in the Chevrolet Corvette ZR1, just with 556 hp. The ZR1 gets 638 hp. It goes from 0 to 60 mph in just 4.0 seconds and reaches a top speed of 175 mph. Rutledge is wondering how Cadillac has become cool again. He says that Cadillac follows the same trend as John Travolta's career. It was cool at the beginning. Then it became seriously uncool. Bang, it was cool again. The CTS-V is Cadillac's Pulp Fiction. Rutledge says that the new look is what sets Cadillac apart.  He says it looks fantastic. The CTS-V also has performance. It also has a manual six-speed gearbox that comes standard with the car. He can smoke the tires at 100 mph. Rutledge says the interior is beautiful. There is suede everywhere with nice leather stitching. It has the same headliner that is in a Chevy truck, which Rutledge does not like. He says that GM was so close to making a perfect car. He hates the door handles. It is like playing a video game just to get the doors open. GM does that in the Corvette as well, and Rutledge does not the door handles in the Corvette either. He says the CTS-V is great value at $60,000. The CTS-V is available as a sedan, a coupe, or a wagon. The sedan is in the same league as a BMW M5 or a Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG. The CTS-V Wagon just might be the worlds first supercar wagon. It is the fastest production wagon in the universe. Rutledge says the CTS-V Wagon is amazing. He likes that you can smoke the tires in a wagon from the store to the home while scaring the kids in the back seats. Rutledge says that old people might think the CTS-V is too much of a departure from the old Caddies. Adam then arrives in an old school Caddy. He is driving a 1957 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz. Adam is shocked that Rutledge likes the CTS-V Wagon. Adam says the old school Caddy says that you have arrived. The CTS-V Wagon means that you have arrived from summer camp with the kids. Adam says the last great Cadillac was the 1976 Coupe DeVille. To prove to Adam that the CTS-V Wagon can perform, he has a drag race against the Ferrari California. It will be an American grocery-getter versus a car from Italy's most famous performance brand. The California is not the fastest Ferrari, but it does 0-60 in 3.8 seconds and a top speed of 193 mph. The cars are off and the CTS-V Wagon smokes the Ferrari. He says that the CTS-V is faster than "stupid fast." It is "F-U Fast." Tanner is still not convinced that CTS-V can compete with the fastest cars in the world. Enter the Stig. The Stig is in the CTS-V Wagon. He also drove the CTS-V Coupe, but Rutledge insists on showing the Wagon's lap. Tanner is surprised how poised the CTS-V Wagon is around the track. After the lap, Tanner says that is the fastest wagon he has ever seen. Rutledge asks the audience if the Coupe or the Wagon was faster. The Coupe did the lap in 1:27.4, which is faster than a Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG. The Wagon did the lap in 1:27.2, 0.2 seconds faster than the Coupe. Tanner says that the CTS-V's value is slightly better than the $500 cars' values. 

Segment 6: Forensic Test and Santa Cruz

Returning to California, Rutledge tries to hit the gas in the Festiva, but it just does not have any power. Adam passes the Festiva. He is flying at 65 MPH in a Taxi. Tanner says that if Adam's life insurance knew that he was driving a Taxi with 400,000 miles, they would drop him like a bad habit. The guys arrive at Santa Cruz and receive some unwanted information. The cars were subjected to forensic analysis. Least contaminated car wins. Rutledge reads his results. The Festiva has hair not of human origin. It has overlapping stains of organic origins. It has concentrations of ammonia and fructose consistent with urine. There are traces of fecal matter as well. Adam reads his results. The taxi has HCl in both rear floor mats.Vomit was on the back of the driver's seat. 1/3 of the rear seating area has traces of blood. These stains got down to the foam of the seats. Tanner reads his results. Mucus is present on the steering wheel. Protein rich substances were found in the crevices of the driver's seat. Staff infection bacteria and dead skin were present in the car as well. None of the guys won. Tanner suggest that they get boundary layers. And what they were as protection is the best part of the episode. But first, it is time to put a star in the Suzuki.

Segment 7: Adam Levine in the Suzuki.

Adam Levine
Adam Levine, of "The Voice" and Maroon 5 fame, is this weeks big star in a small car. He say "If you aren't first, your last!" Then he hops into the Suzuki as everyone else returns to the studio. He does his lap with an angry attitude. He enters the studio. Adam has always enjoyed driving. His first car was a 1971 Ford Mustang Mach 1. His car path did not originally help him with the ladies. Adam had to drive his mom's bright red Jeep Grand Cherokee to school. Adam's favorite car he owned was a 1986 GMC Jimmy he got from his dad. He arrived at the Top Gear studio in an Aston Martin DB9. He has been pulled over six times in the DB9, yet has never gotten a ticket. One time when he was pulled over going to Vegas, a cop told him "I should give you a ticket, but my wife is a big fan. She'll kill me if I arrest you." Adam's lap time was 1:49.2. He is between two Pawn Stars. 

Segment 8: Boundary Layers and the Finish

Returning to California, the guys have got on some added protection after reading the results of the forensic tests. Words cannot describe what they are wearing.

Adam's Gloves
Rutledge's Alligator Suit

Tanner's Biohazard Suit
Adam arrives with pink cleaning gloves. Rutledge arrives wearing a suit made from an inflatable alligator. Tanner, disgusted with his results, arrives in a full biohazard suit. Tanner is the first to leave the parking lot, follow by Rutledge and Adam. The guys had 73 miles left before the finish. Adam says he was not surprise that there was blood and puke in a Taxi. He has the traditional beaded Cabbie seat and pink cleaning gloves. He also has an incense to get rid of the vomit smell. Rutledge says that the alligator suit has decreased his peripheral vision. Tanner jokes, "As if you ever had peripheral vision." Tanner says that the biohazard mask is making him drowsy. He takes of his mask and says the key part of his boundary layer is the gloves. Tanner says that everyone should be carrying a boundary layer in their car. Tanner asks Adam if he would rather be sitting in puss and snot or in blood and vomit of random taxi patrons. Adam says he would take drunk vomit. Adam and Tanner give Rutledge a hard time because the Festiva has very little to no power and is moving quite slowly. Rutledge's passenger side mirror falls off. The guys hit traffic on the outskirts of San Francisco. The guys were just four miles from the finish line. Rutledge smells something burning in the Festiva. The Benz stalls every time its stops. The gauge may say that the engine is not warm, but Tanner can smell that the engine is warm. Someone thought that Adam was driving a working taxi and got into Adam's car. Adam says that the guy might not have known what he sat in, but he is definitely scratching. Adam also says he could have made $45 by taking the guy to the airport and that he should have taken the guy to the airport. Getting deeper into the city, Rutledge has several issues with the Festiva. The clutch is gone, the blinkers don't work, and his horn won't stop beeping. Adam and Tanner play Festiva Tennis. The Festiva dies right when a Trolley is behind it. Tanner and Adam leave Rutledge behind and head towards the finish line. Rutledge pushes the Festiva out of the Trolley's path. Adam says "Remember the a big victory dance after the push race, now he can do it uphill in an alligator suit." Adam and Tanner race to the finish line. The Benz stalls right before the finish line. Adam passes Tanner and is the only one to reach Twin Peaks. Back at the studio, Rutledge says that the Crown Vic is really something. Tanner brings up all the free stuff that came with the Taxi. It includes blood, vomit, and the urine. Adam adds "And the victory." Rutledge says for once they found a car that Adam cannot kill. The crowd applauds Adam for not killing a car. 

Overall Thoughts: The first part of the episode was boring. Once the guys got the results of the forensic test, the show became entertaining and funny. Jokes about how dirty each other's car was show how much the chemistry among the three presenters has improved. Rutledge's alligator made the episode. I just love the Cadillac CTS-V. I question if the show is bias towards American cars. Episode 2, the Corvette ZR1 had a faster lap than the Ferrari 458. The CTS-V Wagon beat a Ferrari California in a drag race and had a faster lap time than the Ferrari. The Dodge Viper ACR 133 has the fastest lap time, beating out Lamborghinis and Ferraris. I could care less for the Big Star in a Small Car segment. Adam Levine was not entertaining.

Final Verdict: 7 Stigs out of 10. This episode would have had a higher score if the first part was not so boring. I could not stop laughing once the results of the forensic test, except for the Adam Levine segment.

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