Top Gear (series 18)

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Top Gear (series 18)
Top Gear Series 18 Promo 2012.jpg
Promotional poster
Country of originUnited Kingdom
No. of episodes8
Original networkBBC Two
Original release28 December 2011 (2011-12-28) –
11 March 2012 (2012-03-11)
Series chronology
← Previous
Series 17
Next →
Series 19
List of Top Gear episodes

The eighteenth series of Top Gear was aired during 2012 on BBC Two and BBC HD and consisted of 7 episodes, beginning on 29 January and concluding on 11 March. The series was preceded by a full-length, special edition episode that was aired on 28 December 2011 and entitled the "India Special", while later on 29 October 2012, Richard Hammond hosted a special-edition episode that coincided with the Bond film series' 50th Anniversary, entitled "50 Years of Bond Cars". In addition, the BBC Children in Need 2012 special featured its own version of the show's segment, "Star in a Reasonably Priced Car", between three of the BBC's newsreaders.[1]


No. in
ReviewsFeatures/challengesGuest(s)Original air dateUK viewers
(millions) [2]
139N/A – India SpecialIndia Special: (Jaguar XJSRolls-Royce Silver ShadowMini Cooper)None28 December 2011 (2011-12-28)6.61[nb 1]

Seeking to help encourage trade with India, despite (the then) British Prime Minister David Cameron wishing they won't, the boys head out and see if they can promote British goods to the Indian public, each taking with them a British car that they hope will help with the job - May chose the luxury of a Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow, Clarkson opts for the stylish Jaguar XJS, and Hammond takes the classic Mini Cooper. On their "trade mission", the presenters attempt to speed up Dabbawala delivery in Mumbai with little success, bring motorsports to Jaipur with a hill-climbing event, host an ambitious but rubbish trade fair in Delhi, before modifying their cars for a trek up into the mountainous, Himalayan region of Himachal Pradesh and their final destination of Shipki La.

Note: For the end credits, each crew members name was altered with an Indian Cuisine theme to them. In addition, the cars were originally left on a plinth in the mountains at the end of the special, but on the first episode of the series, it was revealed by the presenters that they had been removed for legal reasons after filming had been completed.
1401None"Supercars Across Italy": (Lamborghini AventadorMcLaren MP4-12CNoble M600)will.i.am29 January 2012 (2012-01-29)6.21[nb 2]
There's a supercar shootout in Italy, and the presenters are determined to find out which of the three mid-engined supercars competing will come out a winner - May expects the McLaren MP4-12C will come out the victor, Clarkson looks to proving that the Lamborghini Aventador is the best, and Hammond believes it will be the Noble M600. On a roadtrip across the country starting at Lecce, the trio subject their supercars to a series of challenges, including seeing how close they dare get to their car's top speed while finding out their fuel consumption in the process, race to Rome and a restaurant in the centre of the city, and finally take on a time trial test at the famous Imola Grand Prix track, Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari - a track that has had its toll on many F1 drivers, some even dying on the circuit. Elsewhere, Black Eyed Peas frontman,, takes the Kia out on a wet track.
1412Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG RoadsterClarkson and May examine China's car industry in Beijing • Hammond learns about NASCAR racing in Texas [3]Matt LeBlancJimmie JohnsonJeff GordonJuan Pablo MontoyaKyle Petty5 February 2012 (2012-02-05)6.25[nb 3]

Clarkson and May head to China to explore the country's merging car industry in response to the assertion that everyone will be driving Chinese cars in five years, where they encounter facsimiles of popular car designs from other countries, discover how the automotive populace exploded in size, and meet with The Stig's rather aggressive, Chinese cousin. Elsewhere, Hammond explores the world of NASCAR by travelling to the Texas Motor Speedway for the AAA Texas 500 and interviewing some notable NASCAR drivers. The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster is given a slidey review by Clarkson on the test track, and former Friends star and car lover, Matt LeBlanc, is in the hot seat of the Kia Cee'd.

Note: As a humorous reference to the 'Cars from China' film, 3 unknown Chinese presenters finish the show while speaking in Mandarin. The show's theme tune for the credits was performed with traditional Chinese instruments.
1423Vauxhall Corsa VXR NürburgringFiat PandaCreating the climactic car chase for The Sweeney (Jaguar XFRFord Focus) [4][5]Ryan ReynoldsRay WinstonePlan BNick LovePaul Anderson • Kevin Michaels12 February 2012 (2012-02-12)6.16[nb 4]

Believing they could make great car chases for movies, Clarkson and Hammond are invited to provide assistance in directing one for the remake of The Sweeney. Working alongside the film's stars, Ray Winstone and Plan B, Clarkson attempts to prove that dynamic camera usage and timed moves are what can make a good chase sequence, while Hammond tries to show that it should have exciting (if unrealistic) stunts including car jumps. Meanwhile, May takes a look at the Vauxhall Corsa VXR Nürburgring Edition and the new Fiat Panda on the track, and Ryan Reynolds is the latest star going fast in the reasonably priced car.

Note: Although the entire 'Making A Movie Car Chase' film was a spoof for the show, the show's production team and presenters did assist with the planning and filming of the real car chase scenes from the film, showing off the rushes of their work before the episode ended. Top Gear was not officially credited for this by the film on its release.
1434Fisker KarmaFerrari FFBentley Continental GT V8Build and test off-road mobility scooters in the countrysideMichael FassbenderBrian Johnson19 February 2012 (2012-02-19)5.28[nb 5]
The trio see if they can make their own mobility scooters and motorised wheelchairs that can be good in the town as well as being capable of going off-road, and put them through their paces in the Welsh countryside with a race against a team of three wounded soldiers in standard models. Meanwhile, Clarkson heads to Arjeplog in Northern Sweden to pit the Ferrari FF against the Bentley Continental GT V8 in a race on an ice replica of the Silverstone F1 circuit, May heads to Florida to test out the latest sports Plug-in hybrid car, the Fisker Karma, while pitting it against AC/DC front man Brian Johnson and his 1928 Bentley Vanden Plas LeMans Tourer, and Michael Fassbender arrives on the track to do a lap in the reasonably priced car.
1445Maserati GranTurismo MC StradaleMercedes-Benz C63 AMG Coupe Black SeriesRetrospective on Swedish car maker SaabRally-spec Škoda vs jet-powered flying manMatt SmithYves RossyToni Gardemeister26 February 2012 (2012-02-26)6.12[nb 6]

As a final tribute to the sixty years of production that Saab has performed before its closure, Clarkson and May look back at some of the bad ideas the company made, and some of the very good ones they made, including how much emphasis they put on the safety of a car's occupant. Meanwhile, the Maserati GranTurismo MC Stradale and the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Coupe Black Series are tested by Clarkson out on the track, Hammond sees if Finnish world rally driver, Toni Gardemeister, can beat Yves Rossy, the world's first jet propelled man, in a Skoda Fabia S2000 around an eight-mile special Welsh Rally Stage, and Eleventh Doctor, Matt Smith, swaps the TARDIS for the Kia Cee'd.

Note: Due to scheduling issues, Matt Smith did his test run and interview during taping of the previous episode. Meanwhile, the 'Car vs. Jet-Powered Man Race' film was taken from the "Top Gear at the Movies" DVD, while a segment of the '60 Years of Saab' film, in which May flew a jet plane around the test track, was not broadcast for unknown reason but was used in the "Challenges 6" DVD.
1456"Aero-engined" Bentley, BrutusTest of three stripped track cars: (KTM X-BowCaterham R500Morgan Three Wheeler)Alex James4 March 2012 (2012-03-04)5.81[nb 7]

The presenters head out to Donington Park to test out three stripped-out track cars - May believes it cannot be anything other than the Caterham Seven, Clarkson opts to show that it is the KTM X-Bow, and Hammond attempts to prove that it has to be the Morgan Three Wheeler. Along with a series of challenges on the Park's circuit, the trio also see how practical they are as everyday cars by using them to drive to work. Elsewhere, Clarkson re-enacts the 'Battle of Britain' at the Track as a modern recreation of a classic 1920s Bentley model, faces up against the fury of a home-made German car, Brutus, while Alex James of Blur takes to the track with the Kia Cee'd.

Note: Clarkson was originally planning to arrive in a BAC Mono, but stated in the 'Best Stripped-Out Track Car' film that it had broken down and the KTM was his second choice.
1467BMW M5Rallycross cheaper than playing golf? (BMW 328iToyota MR2Citroën Saxo VTS) • May's childhood dream car: Ferrari 250 GT California.SlashKimi RäikkönenChris Evans11 March 2012 (2012-03-11)6.15[nb 8]

The trio show that you can have more fun by doing Rallycross motor racing for the same amount of money you could spend playing golf, with Clarkson racing in a BMW 328i, Hammond a Citroën Saxo VTS, and May a Toyota MR2. Elsewhere, Hammond takes a look at the new BMW M5 at the track, May gets his chance to see his childhood dream car, the £5.6 million Ferrari 250 GT California, at Chris Evans' garage, while Kimi Räikkönen talks about his return to F1 before taking out the old Liana on the track, and Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash shows how good he is the current reasonably priced car.

Note: As it was the last episode of the series, Slash played out the show with his version of the Top Gear theme song, upon the Toyota Hilux plinth.

Special Episode[edit]

Title Guest(s) Original air date UK viewers
"50 Years of Bond Cars"Guy Hamilton, Roger Moore, Ola Rapace, Michael G. Wilson, Ben Collins, Daniel Craig29 October 2012 (2012-10-29)5.48[nb 9]
To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Bond film series, and the release of the film Skyfall, Richard Hammond examines the best of the Bond cars, meets with two of the actors to play James Bond, and attempts to recreate some of the unique cars abilities, including converting a car to operate like a submarine.[6]

Spin-Off Special[edit]

Title Feature Guest(s) Original air date UK viewers
"Children In Need 2012 Special[1]"Children in Need 2012 does 'Star In a Reasonably Priced Car'Bill TurnbullSophie RaworthFiona Bruce16 November 2012 (2012-11-16)8.22
As a special segment for BBC Children in Need 2012, three of the BBC's newsreaders, Bill Turnbull, Sophie Raworth, and Fiona Bruce, head to the test track and see who is fastest with the reasonably priced car of Top Gear, the Kia Cee'd.


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. ^ 5.76 million on BBC Two, 849,000 on BBC HD.
  2. ^ 5.18 million on BBC Two, 1.03 million on BBC HD.
  3. ^ 5.29 million on BBC Two, 963,000 on BBC HD.
  4. ^ 5.13 million on BBC Two, 1.03 million on BBC HD.
  5. ^ 4.30 million on BBC Two, 982,000 on BBC HD.
  6. ^ 5.25 million on BBC Two, 872,000 on BBC HD.
  7. ^ 4.83 million on BBC Two, 978,000 on BBC HD.
  8. ^ 5.13 million on BBC Two, 1.02 million on BBC HD.
  9. ^ 4.71 million on BBC Two, 768,000 on BBC HD.


  1. ^ a b Wilman, Andy (November 2012). "BBC Children in Need 2012 – the stars of Appeal Night revealed". TBBC Media Centre (236). BBC, BBC Magazines.
  2. ^ a b c "Weekly Top 10 Programmes". Broadcasters' Audience Research Board.
  3. ^ Red Carpet - Events - BBC Top Gear Richard Hammond
  4. ^ Lewis, Simon (18 August 2012). "'I nearly pulled out. I didn't want to be a Batman and Robin sidekick': Plan B joins Ray Winstone in the big-screen remake of The Sweeney". Daily Mail.
  5. ^ "The Sweeney (2012)". Kent Film office.
  6. ^ Wilman, Andy (November 2012). "Live and Let Dive". Top Gear Magazine (236). Immediate Media Company, BBC Magazines.

External links[edit]