Belfast Telegraph

Was Chris Evans' Top Gear tyre-squealing brilliance or a write-off? And what about Matt Le Blanc?

Warning - may contain spoilers

By Jonny Bell

Some 4.4millon people tuned in for the long-awaited return of the BBC motoring show, Top Gear - and it sparked a huge online reaction.

Chris Evans launched his version of the long-running show on Sunday night.

He, along with the ex-Friends actor Matt Le Blanc, Irish former F1 supremo Eddie Jordan and German racing driver Sabine Schmitz are fronting the new show.

More: Top Gear reveals full line-up for new series

Sunday night's debut was more of a re-tuning of the format that a wholesale rebuild.

Evans and Schmitz pitted the latest Chevrolet and Dodge sports cars against each other at an American naval airbase while Le Blanc took to the desert for an excursion with an Ariel Nomadic.

Chef Gordon Ramsey and American actor Jesse Eisenbery were the celebrity guests taking part in the tweaked feature, Star in a rallycross car.

More: Revamped Top Gear fails to hit viewing numbers of last series

While the showpiece of the opener was Evans and Le Blanc's road trip in three-wheeled Reliant Robins to Blackpool with a few challenges thrown in, ending with a very Top Gear finish on top of a mountain.

Host Matt Le Blanc impressed many of those tuning in, going by the reaction on social media. But Evans got a rougher ride.

What did you think of the new show? Take our poll:

Top Gear is the BBC's most successful export generating around £50m with a global audience of 350m and seemingly endless repeats.

Jeremy Clarkson was suspended and then later fired by the BBC last year after a "fracas" that saw him punch Top Gear producer Oisin Tymon. His co-presenters Hammond and May quit the show shortly after.

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