A recent survey ranks taxi driving as one of the worst professions. This could be the long, hard hours and relative danger. Or the simple fact that most of them have to drive a Prius. Either way, it’s an arena that’s ripe for innovation…
The hosts of Top Gear wonder if the answer lies in the reinvention of the taxi, providing both a better experience for the user, and a whole lot more fun for the drivers. Later in the show, the winner of this challenge in Sin City will drive McLaren’s technological powerhouse, the MP4-12C, before pitting it against an axe handle-swinging, meat-and-potatoes NASCAR Cup Car.
After Tanner demonstrates why the 2013 BMW M5 is the best taxi in the world, the realization that a $90K car is out of reach of your average cab company means the boys need to think cheaper. The hosts are asked to bring their creations to one of the most cab-cluttered cities in America – Las Vegas.
Tanner repurposes perhaps the only semi-practical professional drift car ever – a boxy Scion xB more or less dropped onto a 500hp turbo Supra chassis, rear-wheel drive and all. Rutledge flies his redneck flag high and proud with a 1984 Chevy El Camino. In a nod to driver (and clearly not passenger) safety, Rut sticks bench seats and a PA system in the bed for a unique open-air passenger experience. Adam innovates with the Ambutaxi, a 2002 Ford Econoline Type III Ambulance. Lights, sirens, and IV bags full of liquor promise a rolling party, if not several tickets.
The first challenge, a test of capacity, has Rut, Adam and Tanner simulate an airport drop-off by driving 200 yards to pick up a family and their luggage – fastest time wins. The next challenge gauges comfort. Signature yard-long Vegas drink cups and fellow hosts are strapped into their taxis for a high-speed ride and handling and course.
In a winner-takes-all final challenge, the boys agree that he who stacks the most tip cash in two hours will have proven their design superior. Tanner figures that if people are willing to pay to ride a coaster, why not perhaps the fastest taxi on earth, paying handsomely for the privilege? Passenger capacity should help Adam’s tip count, and Rut hopes to find enough lovers of classic Detroit iron and/or drunk, generous people to fill his jar.
Will exotic dancers, drunkards, couples, and more drunkards prefer sideways antics, a Cabulance or open-air motoring– and express their preference with cold cash?
The winner flies to Miami to sample McLaren’s 616-horsepower supercar, the MP4-12C. Arguably the quickest rear-wheel-drive car sold, and perhaps the most comfortable supercar ever made will have to win over the hearts and minds of the most important sports car market in the world – America – to be considered a real success.
What more American gauge of vehicular moxie than a 920 horsepower NASCAR Cup Car driven by Carl Edwards? After a requisite amount of trash talking, Carl and a host strap in for what’s supposed to be some friendly exploration of mutual limits, and what quickly devolves into a G-straining grudge match. Think a car with a leather interior, air conditioning and a license plate can challenge a full-blown Cup Car?
To find out, you’ll have to tune in, American fans of the Top Gear USA– it’s on History this Tuesday at 9/8 central. You can see older episodes on the History Channel Top Gear site and get breaking news on the Top Gear USA Facebook Page. Let us know what you think!