Top Gear (series 17)

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Top Gear (series 17)
Top Gear Series 17 Promo 2011.jpg
Promotional poster
Country of originUnited Kingdom
No. of episodes6
Original networkBBC Two
Original release26 June (2011-06-26) –
31 July 2011 (2011-07-31)
Series chronology
← Previous
Series 16
Next →
Series 18
List of Top Gear episodes

The seventeenth series of Top Gear aired during 2011 on BBC Two and BBC HD and consisted of 6 episodes, beginning on 26 June and concluding on 31 July.[1]


No. in
ReviewsFeatures/challengesGuest(s)Original air dateUK viewers
(millions) [2]
1331MarauderBMW 1 Series M Coupe50th Birthday of the Jaguar E-TypeMini John Cooper Works WRC with Amy WilliamsAlice CooperAmy WilliamsKris Meeke26 June 2011 (2011-06-26)6.22[nb 1]
Hammond travels to South Africa to test out the Marauder, a South African military vehicle, to work out the pros and cons of owning one, while May returns to Lillehammer in Norway to see if the car can reclaim its honour, by racing a MINI John Cooper Works WRC driven by MINI test driver Kris Meeke against skeleton sled racer Amy Williams, on the same course as the bobsleigh vs. car race. Meanwhile, Clarkson tests out the BMW 1 Series M Coupe, and pays homage to the Jaguar E-type by celebrating its 50th birthday while also looking at its updated, 21st century successor - the Eagle Speedster. Hard rock musician Alice Cooper has a go at driving around the track in the Kia Cee'd.
1342Aston Martin VirageHigh-performance hatchbacks in Lucca and around the Monaco Grand Prix track: (Citroën DS3 RacingFiat 500 Abarth ConvertibleRenault Sport Clio 200 Cup)Ross NobleFlavio BriatoreChristian HornerBernie Ecclestone3 July 2011 (2011-07-03)5.72[nb 2]
The trio head to Northern Italy for a road trip towards the Riviera, to see which of the latest hot hatchbacks is the best - Clarkson believes he has found the perfect hatchback in the Citroën DS3 Racing, May attempts to prove it is the Renault Sport Clio 200 Cup, while Hammond aims to show that the Fiat 500 Abarth Convertible is the best. In a series of challenges on their road trip, the trio try to get out of Lucca, go on a scavenger hunt, before heading for Monaco during the Monaco Grand Prix to see whose is fastest around the Circuit de Monaco (with a little training from some special helpers). Meanwhile, May goes on a rant about what is wrong with recent Aston Martins before seeing if the Aston Martin Virage is any different, and comedian Ross Noble sets out to make a fast lap in the Kia.
1353McLaren MP4-12CRange Rover EvoqueExamine toughness of the Range Rover Evoque in Las Vegas • Second-hand bargains for the price of the Nissan Pixo (Mercedes CL600BMW 850Ci)Sebastian Vettel10 July 2011 (2011-07-10)6.55[nb 3]
Clarkson and Hammond see if there is a good second-hand bargain for the same price as a Nissan Pixo - Clarkson believes it might be a nine-year-old Mercedes CL600 he bought, while Hammond seeks to prove the seventeen-year-old BMW 850Ci he purchased is the one. Elsewhere, May ventures to Nevada to test out the sustainability of the Range Rover Evoque before chauffeuring a "megastar" across Las Vegas, the McLaren MP4-12C is put through its paces by Clarkson on the track against its main rival, the Ferrari 458 Italia, and Formula 1 world champion, Sebastian Vettel, sees if he's got what it takes to set a fast time in the old Suzuki Liana.
1364Jaguar XKR-SNissan GT-RMake a train out of a specially modified car and caravans as carriages: (Jaguar XJ-S ConvertibleAudi S8)Rowan Atkinson17 July 2011 (2011-07-17)7.14[nb 4]

The trio see if they can find a cheaper alternative to expensive carriage trains, but an argument over their initial creation leads to them having a race to see if Hammond and May's "traditional" train - a 4WD Audi S8 pulling five caravan "carriages" - can reach Loughborough train station, before Clarkson's "Sports Train" - a Jaguar XJ-S Convertible pulling an open-top, four-man carriage. Elsewhere, the Jaguar XKR-S and the Nissan GT-R are tested out on the track by Clarkson, while comedian Rowan Atkinson previews his new film Johnny English Reborn, as well as talking about the prototype V16 engine used in the film's Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupé and his love of cars, before lapping the circuit in the Kia Cee'd.

Note: The railway line used by the show for the 'Cars as Trains' film, belongs to the Great Central Railway in Leicestershire.
1375Lotus T125Jensen InterceptorDemolish a house with second-hand military equipment vs demolition expertsBob Geldof24 July 2011 (2011-07-24)6.13[nb 5]

The boys are challenged to a race by a group of professional demolishers to see who can be the first to knock down a row of houses zoned for demolition. After heading to Albania and failing to knock a test house with the standard machinery, the trio decide to tackle the challenge with a range of heavy-duty, surplus military vehicles - a FV434 armoured recovery vehicle, a FV180 Combat Engineer Tractor (CET), and an Armtrac 400 mine-clearing vehicle. Elsewhere, the boys get nostalgic for 1970s action/adventure series and attempt to create an opening sequence for a new one, involving a new and updated version of the classic Jensen Interceptor, while Clarkson tests out Lotus' new purpose-built Formula 1-inspired track car, the T125, and rock star and charity ambassador, Bob Geldof, is in the reasonably priced car.

Note: Because of the MotoGP 2011 live coverage, the original transmission was on a tight schedule and thus did not end with credits. In the original transmission, Clarkson is warned he is taking too long to end the show, at which point it prematurely ends when he asks "What are they (the BBC) going to do? Cut us off-...", with him responding to this with "Oh, they have!" seconds after it happens. In repeats, the credits are shown after this line.
1386Lamborghini AventadorElectric cars for the seaside: (Nissan LeafPeugeot iOn) • Extraordinary rally team of amputee military veteransLouis Walsh • Race2Recovery Team • Ben Collins31 July 2011 (2011-07-31)6.76[nb 6]
Clarkson and May go on a trip to the seaside, and take with them two new electrically powered cars, the Nissan Leaf and Peugeot iOn, to see how practical they are, while the long-awaited successor of the Murcielago - the Lamborghini Aventador - has arrived on the track to be given a thorough test by Hammond, and Louis Walsh sees how fast he is in the reasonably priced car. Finally, Hammond heads out to a cross-country rally event, to meet with the Race2Recovery Team - an extraordinary rally team, consisting entirely of ex-military amputees, who are taking part for the first time. In his interviews with some of the members, he learns how they are coping with their disabilities, using racing as a cure to their mental traumas, before giving them some help in their preparation for tackling the gruelling Dakar Rally, in the form of former Stig, Ben Collins.

Criticism and Controversy[edit]

Electric Cars Review film[edit]

Following the broadcast of the final episode of Series 17, a scene from the Electric Cars Review film was criticised by a disabled motorist charity, in which Jeremy Clarkson and James May were shown parking their electric cars into two disabled parking spaces. In response to this, the executive producer Andy Wilman defended the presenters in an online blog, revealing that both had expressed deep concerns it would create a disrespectful impression, but only used the spaces when the car park's owner gave permission, adding that there had been three other disabled parking spaces available, before apologising to any viewers that had been upset by the scene.[3]

In a later scene in the film, Clarkson was shown getting people to help him push the electric Nissan Leaf up a street after it had run out of charge. This sparked controversy when Nissan discovered from the onboard data logging in the car, that its charge had been run down to only 40% capacity before the "test drive", which soon drew in criticism from the company, electric car enthusiasts, newspapers, and celebrities in response to the show's view on electric cars.[4] However, Andy Wilman rejected claims that the show was misleading viewers about the Leaf's charge and range, and stood by the consumer points that were raised in the film.[3]


The viewing figures shown in the Episode Table above, are a combination of the figures from the BBC Two broadcast and the BBC HD broadcast.

  1. ^ 5.27 million on BBC Two, 950,000 on BBC HD.
  2. ^ 4.84 million on BBC Two, 880,000 on BBC HD.
  3. ^ 5.41 million on BBC Two, 1.14 million on BBC HD.
  4. ^ 6.07 million on BBC Two, 1.07 million on BBC HD.
  5. ^ 5.01 million on BBC Two, 1.12 million on BBC HD.
  6. ^ 5.68 million on BBC Two, 1.08 million on BBC HD.


  1. ^ Transmission – BBC Top Gear Top Gear Series 17: starts 26 June «
  2. ^ "Weekly Top 10 Programmes". Broadcasters' Audience Research Board.
  3. ^ a b Conlan, Tara (2 August 2011). "Top Gear sorry for disabled parking row". The Guardian. London.
  4. ^ Loveday, Eric (2 August 2011). "Top Gear airs controversial Nissan Leaf segment, responds to critics". autobloggreen.