Flop Gear? Bottom Gear? Drop Gear? Amid reports of low ratings and even lower audience approval ratings, the post-Clarkson Top Gear is getting a rougher ride than Eddie Jordan's SUV after he forgot to engage off-road mode. Here's half-a-dozen ways to make the motoring show brilliant again...

Hire Jenson Button

Seeing designer-stubbled Formula One driver Jenson Button behind the wheel of the McLaren F1 675 LT was a welcome sight. His professional insights were enlightening, his enthusiasm was entertaining - and his stomach-flipping speed made even Chris Evans go quiet. As Button "warmed up the tyres" (filling the car with smoke) and spun off the test track, you couldn't help thinking he'd make a cracking full-time addition to the Top Gear team.

McLaren driver Jenson Button. Photo / AP
McLaren driver Jenson Button. Photo / AP

Make Chris Evans stop shouting (and bragging)

New frontman Evans is understandably nervous but he's trying too hard. He'd clearly been reading the negative coverage, hence that self-deprecating line over the opening credits: "Tonight ....I get even more shouty!" He dialled down the hyperactivity a little this week but is still going too large. Evans needs to aim not for Radio 2 Breakfast Show up-and-at-'em exuberance but Sunday night down-the-pub intimacy.

Top Gear host, Chris Evans.
Top Gear host, Chris Evans.

Evans was in his element on the sofas with Star In A Rallycross Car guest Damian Lewis, joshing about lap times, school runs and "Ginge Bond". He was natural and relaxed on the South African road trip. More of this persona, less of the screeching please. Oh, and stop boasting about buying eye-wateringly expensive supercars. It endears you to precisely nobody (except perhaps your local dealership).

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Stop looking backwards

It's time for Top Gear to move forward in its new guise, so let's get a fat red felt-tip and cross out all the retrospective references in the script. Introducing The Stig with "Some say..." and ending the show "On that bombshell..." merely serve to remind viewers of the much-loved Clarkson/May/Hammond iteration - and inevitably compare the current version unfavourably. Draw a line under it and get some new jokes.

Give Matt LeBlanc more to do

So far, Joey-from-Friends has turned out to be the scene-stealing star of the show. He knows his cars, gets stuck in and has an infectious love of speed. He's charming, charismatic and endearingly silly - doing that baffled Joey voice, before arching his eyebrow sarcastically to camera. He didn't have as much to do this week, heart-warming rapport with rapper Tinie Tempah aside, but merits as much camera time as Evans.

US actor and BBC Top Gear presenter Matt LeBlanc.
US actor and BBC Top Gear presenter Matt LeBlanc.

Keep globe-trotting

This week's ensemble jaunt to South Africa was the highlight of the series so far - all camaraderie, competitiveness, stunning landscape photography and terrifying mountain switchbacks. "Weird uncle" Eddie Jordan was entertainingly baffled (like Louis Walsh on wheels), grizzled Seasick Steve was laidback, Sharleen Spiteri was dry and Tinie Tempah was immensely likeable. Top Gear needs to keep whipping out its passport. Such films might be expensive to make but the money was all right there on-screen and it worked.

Don't panic

The new-look show's getting a proper kicking from the press and on social media. Knives are out but it's still early days. Evans and the producers needs to hold their nerve. There was much to enjoy in episode two, which was a definite step up from the debut show. The inside word is that episode three is a further imrpovement. As long as Top Gear keeps getting better, makes minor tweaks as it learns from its mistakes and doesn't throw the petrolhead baby out with the oily bathwater, the franchise should turn out just fine.