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Top Gear America Episode 6: Outside The Box [Review]

You’ve been waiting and we’ve delivered. It’s the review of Episode 6 of the BBC’s newest iteration of Top Gear, Top Gear America.

This episode was probably the most eclectic of the series thus far, taking us from L.A. and low riders, to the desert in UTV’s, and even the cockpit of a BAC Mono. utv While Episode 6 is a bit all over the place and the segments don’t really fit together in any cohesive way, the episode is actually one of the best of the season. The fact that it’s so varied is what makes it great. There really is something for everyone.

The UTV segment, the first and longest, is funny, fun to watch, and was a solid version of the “Top Gear Challenge” we are all familiar with. Whether it was vehicles breaking, rolling, or jumping, TGA really tied the knot with this segment in terms of keeping it interesting from start to finish.

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Wookie even caught a bit of air at one point. Well done, Tom!

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From the desert, we move to L.A. where Tom takes us on another of his segments which are quickly becoming one of the best parts of TGA. This time, Tom rides along in a low rider through the L.A. streets where we learn about the culture, history, and pride associated with the low rider and low rider community.

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The segment really gives you a sense of how much these people care about their cars and how they represent something much bigger than just a car to them. It’s a pleasure to watch and learn about a group of people who care so much about their cars.

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Moving on, it wouldn’t be Top Gear America without one of Bill Fichtner’s gruff voiced car segments, and Episode 6 is no exception. This time Bill takes a departure from America made vehicles and instead, and uncharacteristically, showcases the BAC Mono.

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Bill does an excellent job, as usual and in classic Top Gear fashion, the cinematography in this segment is fantastic. Full of luscious greens and beautiful shot mirroring, it excels at really drawing you into the whole segment and leaves you wanting more.

Plus,  they of course get Bill to take the Mono through a drive through, so there’s that to look forward to as well.

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Episode 6 is rounded out with another unusual and modified vehicle, which I have a feeling may actually start being a regular occurrence on TGA, a 2,000 hp Toyota Land Cruiser. This particular Land Cruiser is the same one, in fact,  which recently acquired the title of “World’s fastest SUV” for going 230 mph. While it didn’t fair well on the Top Gear track ( big surprise) it was still fun to watch.

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Check out the full episode, including celebrity guest Chris Daughtry, and let us know what you think in the comments!

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We give Episode 6, a 4 out of 5 stars.

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Top Gear America Episode 2: Movie Magic [Review]

This weeks episode of Top Gear America is all about famous cars, what makes the “coolest” car, and look at some amazing movie tricks.

The first scene features one of the most iconic movie cars of all time. The classic 1968 Ford Mustang 390 GT driven by Steve McQueen in Bullitt.   The segment, done by William Fichtner, much like in the first episode, is fantastic. Fichtner seems like the most natural person to pair with a vehicle like the Bullitt Mustang and the entire film is just that, natural, authentic, and a pleasure to watch.

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The special guest for this week’s episode is one of the stars of The Blacklist, Ryan Eggold. The show continues the awkward guest drive in by The Stig, but the interview itself is quick, to the point, and a huge improvement over Top Gears of the past.

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The second segment of the show features an Italian beast and the America drag racer, Antron Brown. Antron has chosen to showcase the beautiful Lamborghini Huracan Spyder. With the amazing sound and stunning good looks of the Huracan there’s very little not to like about this film. While Antron is still not the greatest presenter, always coming across as trying just a little too hard, the segment itself is still very good. With little in the way of scenery to distract away from the Lamborghini, it’s all eyes on the bull.

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As the segment progresses we’re introduced to an even more amazing machine, a $250,000 camera which is placed on a crane, which is then attached to a blacked-out, 580 horsepower, Cadillac  CTS-V wagon called the Ultimate Arm. The film rig is exceptionally high end and able to capture the highest quality video in almost any condition.

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filmrig12 But wait! That’s not all that’s in this segment. There’s an even cooler Ultimate Arm! This one, an off-roader with a 650 horsepower motor, allows for the same amazing film capabilities in rough and uneven terrain without breaking a sweat.

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What? Two amazing film cars and a Lamborghini Huracan Spyder aren’t enough for you? Well how about a professional dirt bike rider as well!  Top Gear piles on the action with the film buggy chasing down and filming this pro rider and of course, it looks amazing.

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The show isn’t done with the Huracan though, The Stig takes the Huracan (albeit the all-wheel drive model) around the all new Top Gear test track. So is it faster than the NSX from Episode 1? Any bets? Spoiler alert! The Huracan manages to set a blistering lap time of 1:10:47! Nearly three seconds slower than the Acura NSX,! Ok, so night quite blistering, but still pretty quick. Are you surprised?

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Fichtner is back in another segment following The Stig’s lap. This time he shows us an American classic, the 1955 Cadillac Convertible. Will does an amazing job of taking us down memory road. He gives us a bit of personal backstory, some American history, and as is quickly becoming tradition, an amazing narrative overall. The segment is a must see for anyone who’s a fan of classic cars, Americana, and beautifully restored Cadillacs.

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Carrying over from the initial interview, the show continues with the rest of Ryan Eggold’s interview before his lap in the Top Gear Honda Civic. Ryan gives an excellent interview and we’re sure all fans of Top Gear and The Grand Tour are really going to appreciate the new interview format that Top Gear America has decided to go with. It’s the direction the BBC (and lets be honest, Amazon) should both have gone long ago.

Ryan’s lap starts off pretty rough, but comical, and he doesn’t improve much through the rest of the lap. He does deserve praise for keeping a smile on his face the whole time, but a racecar driver he is not. While there isn’t much to learn from his technique, his segment is a must see for a good laugh.

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Picking up with the next scene, we have all three hosts in a classic Top Gear challenge segment learning to become 70’s stunt drivers. It’s a bit odd not seeing or hearing about the producers forcing the hosts to complete the channel, but new fans of the show won’t know any better.

Their first challenge? Complete a bootlegger turn. A bootlegger turn is one where you drive straight, pull the e-brake to lock up the rear tires, turn 180 degrees, and power out back the way you came. All three hosts manage to get this one done. This segment is great thanks to some humor, a lack of that “overly-scripted” feeling, and obviously, car stunts.

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Moving on to the second stunt, the boys now have to complete a reverse 180 flick. This stunt is when you put the car in reverse, drive at speed, crank the wheel from 3 to 6, and turn it around putting the car into gear and drive away.

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The final stunt of the segment calls for the hosts to drive down the street and perfectly slide into a parallel parking spot without crashing into the barriers on either side which are of course, baskets of fruit. While this may sound like a good premise, unfortunately the stunt is underwhelming which makes for a rather disappointing end to an otherwise solid episode.

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Top Gear America is still up and running strong and it looks like the first episode may not have been a fluke after all.

What did you think of this week’s episode? Let us know in the comments!

Want Free Tickets to Top Gear America? We Tell You How To Get Them.

If you’re like us, you’ve always dreamed of attending a live taping of Top Gear. While everyone may have their preference of which country or which hosts they would prefer to see, for the most part it’s hard to think it would be a great experience, regardless of the details.

If you live in the U.S., you can now sign up to receive FREE tickets to a taping of Top Gear America. All you need to do is visit Applause Store and sign up with a free account, get your name on the list, and make sure you have transportation to Las Vegas.

 

The show, which just premiered its first episode,  is hosted at SpeedVegas’ rack. For those who don’t know, SpeedVegas provides exotic car driving experiences, so you can watch the show, and take a car out on the actual track in the same weekend. Sounds like a great time to us.

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Top Gear America: Episode 1: Made in America [Review]

Recently Top Gear has had a bit of a rough go. From the separation of its famed hosts, Clarkson, Hammond, and May, and their subsequent success on Amazon’s, The Grand Tour, to the utterly disappointing performance of replacement lead host Chris Evans, which saw the follow up season of Top Gear U.K.’s ratings take a nosedive to their lowest level ever, with only 1.9 million viewers turning in to the season finale.

After Evan’s departure, Top Gear has continued to have a tough time overall, with generally mixed reviews at best, so the question was, will the replacement for Top Gear U.S.A, aptly named Top Gear America, be any better?

It’s with a sigh of relief that I can confidently say, “yes”, it is in fact better. Not only is it better than Top Gear U.S.A, it’s quite easily better than the current iteration of Top Gear U.K.

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Featuring three new hosts, NHRA Top Fuel champ, Antron Brown, British motoring journalist, Tom “Wookie” Ford, and actor, William Fichtner. The hosts clearly fill archetypes any Top Gear fan will instantly recognize. One surprise is the chemistry the hosts seem to already have. While far away from the classic trio, they are themselves easily outpacing the current U.K. hosts. Maybe the BBC sent them all away on a team building expedition before filming.

The premier episode features the typical Top Gear segments we’ve come to know and love. There’s an adventure/challenge feature, a celebrity guest who drives a reasonably priced car, and a couple of reviews.

The adventure segment takes our new hosts south of the border to Mexico. Their challenge, to drive two Baja Beetles 212 miles from Mexico, back to the U.S.A, in the spirit of the famed Baja 1000 race.

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While the script seems a bit forced at times, the segment is actually really well done overall. There’s the great cinematics that we’ve all come to expect from Top Gear, fun action clips, and a some good humor, even if it is a bit forced, such as where one of the Beetles “runs out of gas” or really without giving too much away,  the entire premise of the segment.

The review of the new Acura NSX is a shining feature in the new Top Gear America’s roster. While recent reviews on both Top Gear U.K. and Top Gear U.S.A, before it ended, were pretty bad, if not outright unwatchable, Tom “Wookie” Ford does an excellent job giving the NSX a well deserved review. No condescension, no ridiculous out of left field opinions, and no unnecessary hype. While the back in the studio follow up has the scripted me vs you opinions built in, it does little to take away from the actual segment.

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Top Gear America’s celebrity segment is now far improved from even the classic Top Gear.  This episode features professional baseball player (now retired) C.J. Wilson. The segment was brief, to the point, and very well done. The chemistry between the guests and the host was there, and the questions related to the show. We didn’t see any of the over the top nonsense from recent episodes of  Top Gear U.K. and none of the crazy celebrity “appearances” that many hated in The Grand Tour’s Celebrity Brain Crash.  The actual lap on TGA’s new track, located in Las Vegas, Nevada, using a 2017 Honda Civic, was done right as well. Although it lacked any drama, and the track itself is a bit underwhelming overall, it set a good direction for the show and Top Gear as a whole.

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The other segment of the show, a review of the new Ford Raptor, was done by William Fichtner. I’ll go ahead and say it now, William is the absolute star of the show and does the segment, and the whole show, masterfully. Whoever managed to get him to do the show deserves a raise because he really does carry the show. Fichtner may be the first solid lead on any Top Gear since Clarkson.

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Fichtner manages to capture some of that original Top Gear essence that I think we’ve all been missing since the trio’s departure. The soulfulness, the genuineness, the style that Top Gear so desperately needed, and used to have in excess. If you watch the new episode for one reason, it should be his segment on the Raptor.

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So, Top Gear America is off to a great start. Where does that leave us now? The Grand Tour premiers with its second season on Amazon Prime soon and if there’s any indication based off last season, it’s going to be a hit. Top Gear U.K. is still struggling to regain ground, but may very well be recovering, and  as for Top Gear America, it just may be the BBC’s new shining star.

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Hopefully they can keep it up, all of us in the automotive community need a good show like this. Let us know what you thought of the episode in the comments, and be sure to like and share!

Stay tuned to Automoguls for reviews of every new episode all season long, as well as reviews of The Grand Tour, Top Gear U.K, and much more.

Image Source: BBC America 

Top Gear America Trailer Premiers: Finally a Good U.S. Top Gear?

Premiering on BBC America, July 30th, Top Gear America, the replacement for the generally disliked and disappointing Top Gear USA,  is here. The show features an all new cast, but the tried and true formula of Top Gear U.K. is still clearly implanted in the shows design.

The newest season, according to the preview, will showcase some classic Top Gear shenanigans along side great vehicles, including the new NSX, a BAC Mono, a Polaaris RZR, and Lamborghini Huracan, and others.

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The shows new hosts are auto journalist Tom “Wookie” Ford, actor Bill Fichtner and pro racer Antron Brown.

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The new hosts seem like quite an improvement over both the previous Top Gear USA hosts as well as the newest replacements for Top Gear U.K., so it may be safe to assume the BBC has a potential winner on their hands this time.

Check out the trailer below and let us know what you think!

 

Image Credit: BBC America

The New Top Gear Trailer is Here & It Still Looks Pretty Bad

Top Gear has been in a rapid downward spiral ever since the fracas. With the three famed hosts who, like it or not, are completely responsible for the shows massive international success and cult-like following leaving the show and the awkward and widely despised replacements, specifically Chris Evans, doing nothing to help the show’s recovery, it hasn’t been a good year for the BBC.

To add insult to injury, The Grand Tour achieved massive success in its freshman season. While the show wasn’t without its hiccups and awkward moments, Jeremy Clarkson, James May, and Richard Hammond, along with long time friend and producer Andy Wilman (who also left Top Gear following the fracas) have done a bang-up job and achieved massive success both in terms of ratings as well as in terms of success for Amazon, who so cunningly snatched up the group when they were shopping around for a new place to call home.

The initial release of Top Gear’s teaser trailer for the new season set what can only be called a very low bar for the BBC’s latest attempt to salvage the Top Gear brand, sans Chris Evans. It seems fans of the show, if there are any left, felt similar as the trailer had over 7,000 thumbs down with under 3,000 thumbs up on Youtube as of the time of this writing. Going off the short amount of content in the trailer the show seemed just as awkward and forced as it had been for the entirety of its last season. Sadly the newest trailer doesn’t do much to help.

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Published on February 4th, the newest trailer has barely managed to achieve over 300k views. To put that in comparison with The Grand Tour, the trailer for that shows final episode, published 6 days ago, already has nearly a million views with overwhelmingly positive reactions.

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What about the actual trailer, you may be asking? Well, to be fair, it is much better than the teaser trailer. There are a few interesting segments showcased, the most intriguing of them featuring Chris Harris driving something exotic, which is something we never needed Top Gear to enjoy, but the trailer is, much like the last season, full of awkward humor, forced jokes, and a lot of content which will leave you asking; but why? To the BBC’s credit, they do seem to be trying to

To the BBC’s credit, they do seem to be trying to poke a bit of fun at themselves and their well-known image of being uptight and overly concerned about rules and regulations, something that caused Clarkson to constantly butt heads with the network for nearly his entire career.

What we don’t see in the trailer is whether or not there will continue to be forced jokes about how “American” Joey..er. Matt is, situations trying to make the trio look like they have the chemistry of the original group, which we all know they don’t, and whether they have decided to give the ax to the terrible celebrity segments yet.

As a true petrol head a lifelong Top Gear fan I would love to have two great automotive shows to watch and enjoy. Here’s hoping the BBC can pull it off and we can have that second one.

 

Source: Top Gear

BBC Decides to Bet Big On Celebrities, Not Cars, in Season 24 of Top Gear

It’s no secret that one of the most controversial segments in the premier season of The Grand Tour is Celebrity Brain Crash. The segment briefly features celebrities who are to appear on the show as guests but instead meet with untimely ends before they are able to.

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It is also well known that the BBC has threatened legal action, as we reported here, if The Grand Tour did feature celebrity guests on their show in the same style in which they appeared on Top Gear. It would seem that all of this legal nonsense was for a reason. The BBC has recently hired famed celebrity booker from The One Show, Tom Fenner to book celebs for Top Gear. According to Art of Gears, Tom has “a well-earned reputation of attracting A-List stars for shows that normally would not be able to.” Such stars include Bruce Willis, Jennifer Aniston, and Russell Crowe.

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In Top Gear’s last, and very poorly received season, it was as though the BBC was simply booking any celebrity they could get their hands on, many of which it seemed almost no one had ever heard of. These bookings coupled with the gang of presenters and it only helped to further muddy the waters of the once heralded automotive show.

Matt Feigen, of Art of Gears, made an excellent point saying:

“It would seem that the executives at Top Gear are forgetting a big part of the celebrity equation. Jeremey Clarkson has a way of talking to them that made them open up. Unless he surprises me, Matt LeBlanc has no experience interviewing celebrities. Clarkson’s warmth and touch while talking with guests are what made the segments so memorable.”

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It seems that the BBC may be taking a page out of The Grand Tour’s playbook and steering away from being as car focused as they were in previous seasons and instead focusing on celebrities and developing their new hosts. This news, coupled with a very disappointing teaser trailer, and it looks like Top Gear may be headed further downhill.

Source: Art of Gears