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The Sideshow

Test-driving the world’s smallest car

Eric Pfeiffer
The Sideshow

If you’ve ever wondered how much further auto manufacturers could go with small economy vehicles like the Smart car, we may have your answer.

On the new season of "Top Gear," host Jeremy Clarkson pokes fun at the microcar craze by test-driving what he calls the “world’s smallest car,” the P45 (British slang for a “pink slip”), which he also sarcastically refers to as the “hybrid death trap.”

Through most of the video clip, Clarkson, while screaming in fear, is clearly having a laugh with the tiny vehicle. At one point a long line of cars is behind him, unable to pass the slow-moving vehicle, and he says, looking ahead at the empty road, “I can’t believe how quiet these roads are this morning. I’m hardly seeing any traffic at all.”

Still, there are a few moments when it seems like a good idea to cruise around in a 100cc “car." For example, when Clarkson finds himself caught in a traffic jam, he simply weaves around the idle vehicles and carries on, much like with motorcycle “lane-splitting” laws in California. The P45 may top out at around 21 mph, but that’s still a lot faster than not moving at all.

Another advantage: When Clarkson pulls the P45 into a gas station to fill its 1.7-liter tank, he doesn’t have to exit the vehicle. Of course, he dryly notes, the station has a minimum 2-liter refill policy.

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