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Perhaps the most prestigious leaderboard of them all. After the world’s fastest cars are put through their paces on the show, their keys are then handed over to our tame racing driver. Some say his internal organs are aligned centrally to improve weight distribution, and that he’s illegal in 14 USA states. All we know is, he’s called The Stig…
At the start of series 23, we decided to up the ante. We wanted something a bit faster, a bit livelier, a bit more fun for our celebrities to thrash around in.
Enter the Toyota GT86, Top Gear’s new Reasonably Fast Car. The 86 is of course, a pared-back, drivers’ car fitted with a 2.0-litre naturally aspirated engine (producing around 200bhp), a six-speed manual gearbox and rear-wheel-drive.
And those rear wheels are quite skinny; the tyres are from the Toyota Prius. So it’s more liable to, y’know, move around a bit on a hot lap…
- Max Whitlock 01:39.5
- David Tennant 01:44.0
- Ore Oduba 01:45.7
- James McAvoy (Wet) 01:47.1
- Frankie Dettori 01:47.2
- Jon Culshaw 01:53.0
- Shazia Mirza 02:07.9
Before the start of Series 20, it had become clear that the Cee’d had run its course as TG’s celebrity chariot. A producer was sent out with a reasonable amount of money and was told to report back, having spent the cash wisely. And on a car.
A Vauxhall Astra soon arrived in the garage, ready to propel names like Aaron Paul and Benedict Cumberbatch around the test track and onto our lap board.
The search for a new Reasonably Priced Car was long and arduous, but eventually a suitable candidate was found: a brown-ish Kia Cee’d. Affectionately named the ‘Cee-apostrophe-dee’, the understeery Korean machine quickly got to work, scaring and frustrating the likes of Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, Michael Fassbender and Amber Heard.
The Americans battled with a host of northern comedians for leaderboard domination, with Matt LeBlanc getting the final word after pipping Rowan Atkinson by a tenth of a second.
In 2006, the Liana was retired from celebrity duties, recalled only on the rare occasions that those from the world of motorsport grace our humble studio. Enter the Reasonably Priced Chevrolet Lacetti: as blue as the old Liana, but no less powerful. More so, in fact.
At the wheel of the Chevy, the famous faces of the world began posting visibly quicker times, with Jay Kay setting the benchmark at 1 minute 45.8 seconds. After eight series the Lacetti was eventually laid to rest… underneath a demolished chimney.
- Jay Kay 01:45.8
- Brian Johnson 01:45.9
- Kevin McCloud 01:45.9
- Simon Cowell 01:45.9
- Jennifer Saunders 01:46.1
- Michael Sheen 01:46.3
- Gordon Ramsay 01:46.3
- Usain Bolt 01:46.5
- Peter Jones 01:46.9
- Trevor Eve 01:47.0
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Top Gear’s first Reasonably Priced Car, born out of a burning need to see household names amble around a makeshift track with varying degrees of success. For seven series, the Liana was piloted by no fewer than 65 stars, including Stephen Fry, Jodie Kidd, Trevor Eve, Lionel Richie and even a blind chap named Billy Baxter.
All but four of the 65 cleared the (admittedly low) two-minute barrier, although none were faster than Dame Ellen McArthur, whose time of 1 minute 46.7 seconds was never bettered.