In Series 12, Episode 4 of the BBC show Top Gear, Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May attempt to make an eco drive to arrive at Blackpool in time to turn on the "world famous illuminations."

They started the journey in Basel, Switzerland and drove to Blackpool. A distance, they claimed as being 800 miles. He wanted to go past his house because he was convinced he wouldn't make it all the way to Blackpool and he said he wanted to run out of gas where he could get a nice dinner.

Throughout the drive, Clarkson repeatedly tries to burn away as much fuel as possible so as to break down in front of his house. He drives with the air conditioning on, the seats heated (including the passenger seat for no reason) the radio on, he's driving quickly - not driving at optimal MPG speeds (at least not attempting, apparently).

Yet despite all his best attempts to run out of fuel, he eventually changes strategy and arrives at the final destination in time to turn on the lights.

What's even more ridiculous is that he states later that the gas tank was examined and there was enough fuel still in the Jag to do 150 miles.

Did Clarkson really make it all the way to Blackpool with a Jag that could drive 1000 miles between trips to the pump?

Or was there foul play? Or was a different route used than was shown to be his true route throughout the episode?

It seems a little hard to believe that a fuel-thirsty car would have such a large gas tank or be so fuel efficient to make that kind of trip.

  • I vaguely remember the episode... but 2 things... where did they start from, & why would he go past his house on the way to Blackpool [from anywhere except perhaps Southampton]?
    – Tetsujin
    Apr 18, 2018 at 19:01
  • They started in Basel, Switzerland but Clarkson intentionally took another route significantly longer. I'll have to watch the episode again to get the exact route.
    – Knight
    Apr 18, 2018 at 19:05
  • 4
    tbh, I always get the impression with Top Gear that they 'did' the challenge for a given definition of 'did', cos they have to go back & re-shoot bits until it looks good, but that the 'result' was based on what their researchers got when they trialled it the week before.
    – Tetsujin
    Apr 18, 2018 at 19:42
  • Yes. Aside from their antics and silliness, these the TG guys are still journalists, reporting on the truth on the performance of automobiles. Apr 19, 2018 at 3:11

1 Answer 1


Impossible to prove (Top Gear has been known to fake a lot of its segments, notably lying [and being caught by Nissan via onboard logs] about the Leaf running out of charge); but possible? ...absolutely.

The Jaguar XJ 2.7tdvi that Clarkson drove has a stated range of 660 miles, but as this is the turbo version and it's approximated for 'average' driving (read: not economy driving), it's certainly possible to squeeze more gas out of it.

On the factory spec, without any aftermarket, its consumption has been logged as high as 55mpg; so with an 80l tank (its capacity is stated as 77-80), that's 924 miles.

The same model had in 2005 been recorded driving the length of the UK (John O'Groats to Lands End, 840 Miles) before attempting to get back to Coventry. It totalled over 1000 miles before giving up the ghost.

  • This is the kind of answer I was looking for. I'm sure it's hard to prove one way or the other but a reasonable estimate with some facts to back it up helps solidify an understanding of how it might have happened... if it did.... or facts to support that it is truly impossible... which it seems it isn't. :) Thanks!
    – Knight
    Apr 20, 2018 at 13:33
  • The 2005 Land's End to John O'Groats trip was more than likely the inspiration for this Top Gear "race". The producers knew that Jeremy could probably afford to waste 200 miles worth of fuel range and still get to Blackpool. Hammond got to Blackpool first in a VW Polo Bluemotion. This episode was an interesting experiment in fuel economy, wrapped up in a huge dollop of silliness).
    – user84795
    Sep 28, 2021 at 6:45

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