Top Gear tests the new Ranger Rover

Top Gear (BBC1, 8pm)
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It may seem hard to remember now, but when it was revealed that Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond were leaving Top Gear, some people wondered if the motoring show would survive.

Admittedly, it did take a while for the BBC to find a presenting line-up that truly gelled, but under the stewardship of Chris Harris, Freddie Flintoff and Paddy McGuinness, it’s once again pulled ahead.

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However, Paddy modestly suggests that it’s the format, rather than just the presenters, that’s behind the show’s continuing popularity.

He says: “I think essentially, it’s got a bit of something for everyone. It’s got petrolhead bits in there of course, but it’s also got a lot of entertainment as well. And it’s great escapism on a Sunday night isn’t it, before getting ready to go back to work.

“People like to switch off by watching us driving around in exotic cars or old bangers, going round the world and visiting different places that you never get a chance to see.”

So far this series, the places that you never get a chance to see have included a derestricted Autobahn in Germany, which might have made for fun viewing but was apparently fairly scary to film.

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Paddy explains: “It sounds amazing on paper and I was really looking forward to it, but when you’re actually there it’s terrifying. You’re going up a road which is essentially like the M60 where people are driving on their way home from the office, and there’s a lane that is de-restricted every couple of miles or so where you can drive as fast as your car will go.

“I was driving a Pagani Huayra which doesn’t have a roof and it feels like it’s doing 100mph even when you’re doing 30mph and there was one moment where I was doing about 167 mph and I thought, this is just terrifying.”

Luckily, he’s less stressed tonight, as he gets behind the wheel of a Ranger Rover that’s being billed as the most luxurious car Land Rover have ever built. However, a drive around London doesn’t seem like much of a test, so he and Chris take it to the country’s toughest off-road event, the King of Britain, to really put it through its paces.

Paddy says: “Normally you see Range Rovers wafting around town, you’ll see someone doing the school run in one, or nipping to the supermarket and you’ll never ever use what those cars are designed for, which is their off-roading capabilities. So, we showed the car in a really sexy light around London… but then we said ‘right let’s see what it’s all about!’”

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Also in this episode, Freddie Flintoff is trying his hand at F1 – F1 Stock Car Racing, that is. It’s a full-contact motorsport where bumping your opponent is actively encourage, and it seems like it should be the perfect fit for the fearless (and very competitive) Fred. But is he in for a bruising experience? Meanwhile, Chris Harris is also in the world of racing as Mercedes invite him to try out an F1 car they have built for the road, but the test drive doesn’t go exactly to plan.