Mansfield stars as Top Gear showcases town centre in electric car trial

The modern concept of the electric car is something which has pricked my ears over the last two years, and last night's Top Gear brought it to the forefront.

The BBC show, with its fresh trio of Freddie Flintoff, Paddy McGuinness and Chris Harris, showcased the best and the worst of the new, energy efficient electric car ranges.

The new hosts in Mansfield in February.

The new hosts in Mansfield in February.

And in the process, it brought Mansfield's town centre to the forefront in a circuit race.

The show started off on a positive note, with a good bit of banter between the trio about electric cars and a small segment which seemed much less forced than previous presenters' attempts following the exits of Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May.

The electric car trial saw Flintoff, McGuinness and Chris Harris create their own, budget and homemade electric cars which they hoped would be able to compete with the modern electric vehicles in today's markets.

And they did not disappoint. McGuinness pimped out a Nissan Leaf, complete with scissor doors that he couldn’t close properly. “You’re 45 years old, man,” Freddie Flintoff joked.

Credit: SWNS.

Credit: SWNS.

His own attempt was a cut-and-shut job: Subaru Brat on top, Tesla underneath. “You’re driving a spork,” said McGuinness.

Harris built a battery-powered Triumph Spitfire, donning a suitably '70s red poloneck and gloves to drive it and sparking a “Why have you come dressed as Spiderman’s grandad?” remark from McGuinness.

The trio raced their cars around an abandoned nuclear power plant in the West Midlands to see which car could run the circuit the quickest - welcoming a surprising victory for McGuinness.

There was then a review for the new Tesla Model Three electric car which, not only is powered via a mains port, can even drive you from destination to destination without you lifting a finger. A modern concept akin to the human race becoming even more lazy.

They then embarked on a hilarious electric shock challenge, taking laps around a make-shift race track while attempting to overcome electric waves being pulsed through their body from their fellow co-hosts if they touched the sides.

Harris came out the worst in this one, receiving the forfeit of enduring electric shocks whist attempting to drink a milkshake - spilling it all over his clothes and sparking hilarious laughter from Flintoff.

Finally came an urban electric endurance race: “The 24 Minutes of Le Mansfield”, as it was dubbed. Just like the 24 Hours of Le Mans, but shorter, and in Mansfield. Three hours of filming for nine minutes of screen time.

While Harris’s car emitted worrying noises and McGuinness ran out of battery, Flintoff ram-raided some market stalls and caused a huge dint in his Subaru. We have already seen the pictures, but it looked a lot more fast-paced on the television.

The race was started by former mayor Kate Allsop and saw the crowds gathering throughout the town centre on what, as I can remember very clearly, was a very cold, wet and rainy February Sunday.

All-in-all Flintoff won the race between the trio, despite the crash, but McGuinness revealed that all three hosts failed to beat a single one of their counterparts who were using modern market electric vehicles.

Flintoff also triumphed in the overall electric car challenge upon the close of the episode, but in my view it was the viewer who triumphed here.

It was my first bout of the new presenters after being turned off from the show during the Le Blanc and Chris Evans days. I gave the show a chance once Le Blanc took the helm alongside Harris and Rory Reid, but it never had the same ring to it from the original trio.

But now, there seems to be more chemistry back. There was laughs, it was informative and it had that classic Top Gear feel to it again. I'll probably watch it next week with no predispositions and with an open mind - and actually give it a chance this time around.

What did you make to the episode? Let us know in the comments.