‘Top Gear’ motors back onto U.K. screens, coming soon to the U.S.

top gear returns to screens 2017
BBC
The first episode of the re-revamped Top Gear motored onto screens in the United Kingdom Sunday night, aiming to put to bed the somewhat awkward rebirth that followed the departure of original hosts Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May in 2015.

The latest season, which kicks off on BBC America on March 12, has LeBlanc in the driving seat alongside Chris Harris and Rory Reid — both kept on from the last round of Top Gear shows. Fans can expect the usual mix of cool cars, studio-based shenanigans, and overseas jaunts, the first of which feature the trio racing across Kazakhstan in three high-mileage cars: A Mercedes saloon, a Volvo estate, and a London taxi. OK, we never said all the cars are cool.

So how did the British press take to this second outing of the once mighty Top Gear? The Guardian seemed to really want to enjoy it, describing the footage from the Kazakhstan segment as “fabulous,” and LeBlanc as “great, properly funny.” But it said the three presenters appeared to be “trying too hard,” and that the setup was just too similar to the Clarkson-made Top Gear, concluding that the new show “has just too much baggage in its trunk.”

The Telegraph, on the other hand, steers down a more positive street, giving the show four out of five stars. It described Sunday’s night’s production as “a memorable start” that showed “genuine chemistry between the anchors.” It also noted that rival show The Grand Tour spends about the same on one episode as Top Gear does on an entire season, but added, “What LeBlanc and company’s show lacked in Hollywood sheen, it compensated for with grit and good humor.” Finally, it called it “a roaring return — and a vast improvement on last year’s car-crash attempt at reinventing the wheel.”

The Radio Times, however, settled somewhere between the other two media outlets, calling the first episode “so much better” than the previous effort and praising the new-look studio. But while it recognizes the skill of the new presenters, it says that the chemistry between the trio is “not quite there.” However, with only one episode taped, there’s still time for them to click.

Speaking to the Radio Times prior to the first show’s airing, Chris Harris said that this time around, the car is front and center: “Everything we do begins with the automobile … The car is the thing, and then if you apply all of their know-how, all of the skills of the cameramen, the writing skills and then this beautiful filmmaking ability to the car, it’s wonderful. Excuse the pun — the car is the perfect vehicle for making films.”

After the original Top Gear trio departed the show — OK, Clarkson was actually fired – in a blaze of controversy in 2015, the BBC decided to retain its most lucrative TV offering by hiring a new team and giving the format an overhaul.

BBC TV and radio personality Chris Evans headed the show, with actor Matt LeBlanc also signed up to present. But as the ratings nosedived, news reports began to surface of tensions between the two anchors, with Evans eventually calling it quits.

But Top Gear is back. Again. And hopefully this time around it’ll deliver like it did in the old days. The new show airs on BBC America at 8 p.m. ET on Sunday, March 12. Watch it for yourself and let us know what you think in the comments below.

Movies & TV

Colder and bloodier, Game of Thrones season 8 has a premiere date

A new teaser trailer for season 8 of HBO's hit series Game of Thrones reveals the official premiere date for the final story arc in the award-winning series based on George RR Martin's popular novels.
Mobile

Here’s how to download podcasts and listen to them on Android or iOS

Podcasts have become a cultural staple. Here's how to download podcasts and listen to them on your Android or iOS device, and which apps to use if you're looking to get the most out of the format.
Gaming

You're never too broke to enjoy the best free-to-play games

Believe it or not, free-to-play games have evolved into engaging, enjoyable experiences. Here are a few of our favorites that you can play right now, including Warframe and the perennially-popular League of Legends.
Cars

2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 is ready to strike with over 700 hp

The 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 revives one of the greatest names in American muscle cars, and gives Ford some ammunition in the horsepower war with Chevy and Dodge. Debuting at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show, the GT500 boasts over 700 hp.
Emerging Tech

Ford’s sweaty robot bottom can simulate 10 years of seat use in mere days

Ford has developed 'Robutt,' a sweaty robot bottom that's designed to simulate the effects of having a pair of human buttocks sitting on its car seats for thousands of hours. Check it out.
Cars

In McLaren’s 600LT Spider, the engine is the only sound system you’ll need

The McLaren 600LT Spider is the inevitable convertible version of the 600LT coupe, itself a lighter, more powerful version of the McLaren 570S. The 600LT Spider boasts a 592-horsepower, twin-turbo V8, and a loud exhaust system to hear it…
Cars

Robomart’s self-driving grocery store is like Amazon Go on wheels

Robomart's driverless vehicle is like an Amazon Go store on wheels, with sensors tracking what you grab from the shelves. If you don't want to shop online or visit the grocery store yourself, Robomart will bring the store to you.
News

Ford has a plan to future-proof the hot-selling F-150 pickup truck

Worried about the threat of rising gas prices, Ford will add the F-150 to its growing portfolio of electrified vehicles. It is currently developing a hybrid F-150, and it will release an electric version of the next-generation truck.
Cars

Ford’s Mustang-inspired electric crossover will spawn a Lincoln luxury version

Lincoln will get its own version of parent Ford's first mass-market, long-range electric vehicle. While Ford's version will have styling inspired by the Mustang, Lincoln will take a more traditional approach.
Home Theater

Spotify adds simplified Car View mode for Android users

What was once just a test is now a reality: Spotify is rolling out a new, simplified in-car user interface for all Android users called Car View, which automatically engages when the app detects a car Bluetooth connection.
Cars

Boutique carmaker Karma Automotive, legendary design firm Pininfarina team up

Karma Automotive is partnering with legendary Italian design firm Pininfarina on future luxury cars. The first product of that partnership will appear later this year, Karma said, without offering other details.
Cars

Sibling rivalry: 2019 BMW Z4 takes on the 2020 Toyota Supra

BMW and Toyota forged an unlikely partnership when they set out to build a sports car platform together. Here, we examine the similarities and differences between the 2019 Z4 and the 2020 Supra.
Cars

Driving Daimler’s 40-ton eCascadia big rig isn’t just fun, it’s electrifying

Daimler Trucks brought its all-electric eCascadia semi-truck to the 2019 CES, and invited us to take the wheel. What does it feel like to drive one? Simply electrifying, of course.
Cars

Tesla cuts workforce by 7 percent, ends referral program to trim costs

Tesla has announced plans to trim its workforce by seven percent, and it will end the referral program that rewards customers who help it sell cars. These measures are ways to cut costs and boost profits.