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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…
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.
- Lawrence Dallaglio 01:47.4
- Les Ferdinand 01:47.4
- Eric Bana (Wet) 01:47.5
- Well Spoken Man (James Hewitt) 01:47.6
- Jamie Oliver (Melted snow and standing water) 01:47.7
- Hugh Grant 01:47.7
- Ewan McGregor 01:48.0
- Rupert Penry-Jones 01:48.1
- Chris Evans (Wet) 01:48.1
- James Blunt (Wet) 01:48.3
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.