Entertainment The Grand Tour Top Gear

Top Gear vs The Grand Tour – Viewer figures and episode ratings

The final episode of Top Gear Series 24 going to air last Sunday, and while it was a massive improvement on Series 23, now is the perfect time to reflect on how the new series stacked up against previous Top Gear series, and whether it was able to take the fight to The Grand Tour.

The viewing figures

As is usually the way with viewing figures television series, the first episode will always rate the highest, before gradually reducing as the series progresses – as some viewers tune out for various reasons. If the show isn’t received well, the viewer figures will plummet much quicker – such as the 4.4 million to 2.8 million drop we saw in the first and second episode of Top Gear Series 23 with Chris Evans. Ouch.

So how did Top Gear Series 23 perform? Well, a bit like this

Top Gear Series 24: Overnight Ratings
Episode 1 (5 March) 2.8 million
Episode 2 (12 March) 2.7 million
Episode 3 (19 March) 2.4 million
Episode 4 (26 March) 2.3 million
Episode 5 (2 April) 2.6 million
Episode 6 (16 April – Easter Sunday) 1.6 million
Episode 7 (23 April) 1.9 million

As you can see, Series 24 opened with an average of 2.8 million viewers, before gradually falling to to 2.4 million by Episode 4, spiking to 2.6 for Episode 5. A possible explanation for the further reduction seen in Episodes 6 & 7 is that they aired after Top Gear went on break for a week, meaning some viewers may have thought the show had finished early or they simply lost interest.

So how does that compare to The Grand Tour? Well unfortunately for us, Amazon haven’t released the full list of viewer statistics for the show, but there is one statistic we have heard – by December 2016 approximately 2.3 million people had streamed the first episode of the show. It is important to note that this figure was determined by research company GfK – from a survey of viewers who fill in a diary of what they watch every day – so it is far from being an official figure.

Depending on how you interpret the viewing figures for The Grand Tour‘s first episode, it either attracted less viewers than Top Gear Series 24’s opening episode, or at least was pretty much on-par with it. The figures also would have reduced further as each episode was released.

Unless Amazon changes their policy and decides to release final viewer figures for The Grand Tour, we can’t really give either show the win here.

The episode ratings

Here on TopGearbox, every single episode of Top Gear and The Grand Tour carries with it a ‘Star Rating’ from 1 to 10, which are determined by hundreds of thousands of votes placed by readers just like you. Aside from being an easy way to find quality episodes worth watching, they give us a handy point of reference to see how the shows stack up against each other.

Top Gear Series 24’s highest rated episode is currently Episode 7, with a rating of 9.4 out of 10. On the other end of the scale, Episode 3 faired the worst, with a rating of just 6.9 out of 10 – one of the worst on record.

On the other hand, The Grand Tour‘s highest rated episode is Episode 13, with a rating of 9.5 out of 10. And the lowest – ‘Italian Lessons’ – still managed to achieve a decent 7.8 out of 10.

If you take an average of the ratings for every episode in the series, Top Gear achieved an overall score of 7.88 out of 10, vs The Grand Tour on 8.63 out of 10. So as far as our readers are concerned, The Grand Tour has won this one – just!

Our opinion

We love Clarkson, Hammond and May as much as all of you do, but we are the first to admit that while The Grand Tour did have moments of greatness, the show as a whole wasn’t exactly their finest hour. Let us put it like this – here at TopGearbox we’ve watched all of the older Top Gear episodes many, many times over because of how much we enjoyed them.

But The Grand Tour? Once was enough for us, thanks.

Many of the boy’s “adventures” felt unrealistic, as if you were watching a B-grade action movie which desperately wants you to believe everything is real. We also felt the hosts (especially Hammond and May) were putting on an act, as we’ve never seen Hammond that argumentative or May being as much of a bumbling idiot as what we saw on The Grand Tour.

On the other side, while we enjoyed Series 24 of Top Gear slightly more than The Grand Tour, it too was far from perfect. While the chemistry between LeBlanc, Harris and Reid shows some promise, LeBlanc is still a bit too wooden in the studio, Reid’s jokes sometimes fall flat and Harris is always looking for an argument. But thankfully the stunning cinematography remained, combined with a bunch of interesting road trips, challenges and car reviews throughout the series.

And the verdict?

Well, do we really need to choose?

Whether you prefer the newly revamped Top Gear or the behermoth that is The Grand Tour, there’s one thing you need to remember – and that is competition is a good thing. It is Mercedes-Benz vs BMW, Ford vs Chevrolet, Coke vs Pepsi, Apple vs Samsung, PS4 vs…. well, you get the idea.

When it comes to anything at all, a bit of friendly competition means people strive to try harder than what they otherwise might have done. Competition keeps people and companies on their toes and performing at their best of their abilities, and you can be certain that the respective production teams at Top Gear and The Grand Tour are doing absolutely everything they can to compete with and out-do each other in every regard.

If Top Gear were to ever be cancelled in the near future, the team over at The Grand Tour suddenly wouldn’t have to try as hard to succeed in the future. While this might not be apparent or affect the show immediately, over time stagnation could set in and everybody loses.

So let us all enjoy the fact that we have access to two highly polished and refined car shows to entertain ourselves with – and they’ve even been thoughtfully staggered to air at alternate times of the year. This means there will be less down-time between shows, more quality car content for you and also more variety to enjoy.

How good is that?

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bob October 12, 2022 at 2:40 pm

the show is about entertianment . and about the crazy things they will do with cars. while still talking about the cars. if you need all the specs about every car look at google. and if you dont like them then quit watching and whining like a bunch of little bitches. and yes im american. (o)(o)s are awsome. courtesy of the USofA

Menno September 28, 2022 at 12:54 pm

I miis the old Top Gear. I dont have Amazon and the new Amazon is more like Geordie Shiore on wheels Pitty

Patricia September 28, 2022 at 10:55 am

More Americans have seen Grand Tour than old or new Top Gear UK because it’s on Amazon Prime. BBC programs are not on basic cable. Most people don’t have BBC World…..only the programs that are aired by PBS here. Clarkson, Hammond and May are very unique presenters…….wide variety of interests and knowledge. I am older than they are but I enjoy their programs….
I keep finding new things they have made all the time. Today I rewatched James May on the Moon and James May The Edge of Space….fantastic! Tomorrow I shall rewatch some of Hammond’s Blast Lab…love seeing “Oliver”. Where are those kids now..
Check out Clarkson’s PQ17: An Arctic Convoy Disaster.

Dominic January 2, 2022 at 5:31 am

Phew it’s not just me then, the current Top Gear looks cheap ,naff and dull as dishwater. Even Dr Who? is more entertaining due to being so bad its funny at least.

Jean December 29, 2021 at 4:00 am

In all honesty the New Top Gear is a sleeping pill and as entertaining as watching your dog licking his balls. utter rubish, nothing is natural and all TG is now doing a very bad job of imitating what was. face the truth, why not both? because after watching TG you feel like the time was stolen from your life

Ron December 26, 2021 at 10:48 am

I’m a fan of the old Top Gear and followed Clarkson, Hammond, and May to Amazon’s Grand Tour. Today I decided to watch a few episodes (season 25) of the new TG to compare.


Clarkson, Hammond, and May are like schoolboy or university friends doing pranks, road trips, and adventures together. They’re rude. They’re outrageous. They are very entertaining. They give us modern day vaudeville comedy.

The new TG (season 25) seemed forced. Stiff. Flat humor. Written by people who don’t understand their audience. Welcome to the politically correct humorless and very much dead Top Gear. Perhaps the show should be renamed First Gear because it’s slow and boring.

Miles December 25, 2021 at 7:39 am

Can you update this. Just watched Xmas Top Gear with the Xmas trees…. Utter rubbish!

Jango Mungo January 12, 2021 at 3:49 am

The real debate, which was better. Top Gear until Clarkson left or The Grand-tour. Viewers ratings alone make Top Gear the best. Anyway time to put both shows to bed, they’ve had their day.

Jordan November 12, 2020 at 8:29 am

The report claims that Amazon Prime Video drew over five million people to the Prime subscription service by early 2017. It also calculates that around 26 million US Prime members watched television and movies on the service by 2017.

Brian A. Woods November 4, 2018 at 2:39 pm

Very good and honest article. One thing everyone has to remember is The Grand Tour will evolve to be better than Top Gear, you see a vast improvement with Series 2 over Series 1 already, because they actually listen to their fans. Clarkson has an undeniable gift & genius developing motoring shows, The Top Gear reboot that premiered 2002 was Clarkson’s brain child. If you pay attention from Series 1-3, they are good but series 4 is really where they found their niche’ and the show hit it’s stride. With Hammond & May’s obvious loyalty to Clarkson, and Clarkson’ s vision with executive Producer Andy Wilhelm on the team, combined with a very outrageous production budget curtousy of Amazon, how could it be anything but? I agree their rilvery and situations seemed over the top and scripted but it will all come together.

Freelaxx September 9, 2018 at 7:27 pm

I basically agree with most of the above. But not that TGT is better. the old trio has many years of chemistry to lean on and heaps of money for the new show. Im VERY surprised TGT season 1 was so outright “bad” (personal opinion!), but yeah, TGT season 2 vas an improvement. And maybe s3 will be even better since they prolly have more freedom for change acc to what viewers want then the new TG presentors who needs to “build chemistry” but obviously has a much better production team then TGT.

Im guessing that letting the trio on the lose without a leash is not the best idea.
Im guessing that on old TG the experienced prod.team gave the trio a good frame to stay in.

One thing tho – the old trio as presenters are better (due to fore mentioned chemistry) but are clearly growing old. It shows. not saying its bad yet, but im really hoping for some new personality on the field soon. Im glad the TG clown is gone, Matt LB is good but “stiff”, and unlike some above i think Sabine is VERY good! Not perfect yet but better then the rest of TG.

Favourite episode: mopeds through Thailand! by far!!!

Daniel Jongstra December 6, 2017 at 7:43 pm

Clearly TGT needed some time to get ”in to it” They had some parts in the show that was just a failure but hard to change after the whole series has been recorded.
But don’t forget the most important issues here. There is a huge list of things TGT is not allowed to do since they are still under some kind of contract with the BBC. BCC will sew the crap out of them if they come with a stig or a reasonable priced car etc etc.. Second issue is that Amazone probbably wants to have something to say in the show. (explaining the NOT FUNNY AT ALL american testdriver for example) 3rd issue is they are kind of locked inside the Amazone network. You must pay to be able to see them. I became a member of Amazone just to see TGT while Top Gear is there for free on BBC. Taking all these things in account TGT is the HUGE winner here unless you don’t WANT to see that and actually want Top Gear to be the favourite..

Nick April 28, 2017 at 12:39 am

I like this review. Hit the nail on the head.

Restalot April 27, 2017 at 12:04 pm

As this was the second series of Top Gear sans Clarkson et al, while I like where this comparison is going, I think I would like to see Series 2 of TGT vs. Series 2 of New Top Gear. We all know some of the segments in Series 1 of The Grand Tour didn’t work and I’m expecting better from Series 2 much like TG made changes for their second run at it. My 2c.

Nick April 28, 2017 at 12:35 am

Good Point.

gandalf THE WHITE May 13, 2017 at 9:25 pm

Agree… Last Top gear was better then with that redhead clown, but LeBlanc, Harris and Reid together got ZERO charisma and the interviews with guests are just SAD… if not pathetic…
BBC clearly running out of money, mostly just 2 presenters on trips, making Harris doing the guests drives, that annoying german woman as a Stig and semi-retarded Eddie on top of that…
GT on the other hand, was too much YANKEE style show… clearly they have been aiming for simply audience too aka americans… screenplays were not the best too… but as was mentioned before : we must wait for one or two more series to make proper battle…

TG will never be the same as it was, and GT will never be as good as old TG was neither…

Of course english fanboys will always love that new Top Gear… for simply reason : they are paying for that through TV licence… 😉

watching BBC News time to time.. I feel sorry for taxpayers paying for that zion-propaganda news…
so its still way better to pay for `wooden` Top Gear then… 😉


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