Uh-ho. Those crafty chaps known as the BBC Top Gear team may have thought they got away with their recent review of the 2011 Nissan Leaf and 2011 Peugeot iOn (a rebadged predecessor to the 2012 Mitsubishi i)  - but they would be wrong.  

The fur started flying yesterday, when Nissan Senior Vice President Andy Palmer gave an interview to The Times  newspaper in which he said that the all-electric hatchback had apparently been driven around in loops to force its battery to drain flat, purposely misrepresenting the car. 

Now Top Gear executive producer Andy Wilman has responded to the allegations of foul play.

Top Gear Stage Another Electric Car Stunt

Top Gear Stage Another Electric Car Stunt

“Our film was a snapshot of living with an electric car. A film is an impression of life. We are allowed to put into a film what we want to”, Wilman is quoted as saying by the Herald Sun. “We can’t cover every base.”

And in a newly released statement on the BBC Top Gear Transmission Blogs, Wilman refutes the accusations from Nissan -- and many electric car fans and Leaf drivers -- that both Leaf and Peugeot iOn were badly represented on the show. 

“When we set off, we knew we would have to recharge at some point, because that was an experience we wanted to devote part of the film to,” Wilman writes. “The Leaf is a very good car per se, and there’s nothing wrong with electric motors, but the battery, in our view, remains the Achilles’ heel of the whole package”

While presenter Jeremy Clarkson was mildly positive about the Leaf during his test drive, as soon as it started to run out of charge his demeanor changed dramatically, with a large portion of the review devoted to the time it would take to fully recharge the car on a completely empty battery. 

Sounds plausible, right? Not quite. As we found out in May shortly after the film crew was spotted in Lincolnshire, England filming the segment, both cars were purposely left overnight the day before filming without a recharge, starting the film shoot with just 40 miles of range

As for running out? We’ve confirmed with a Nissan spokesperson that Clarkson’s Leaf was driven to empty, leaving it with just a 1.33% capacity remaining in its battery pack, meaning that the Top Gear team chose to ignore all of Nissan’s audible and visual warnings that the car needed to recharge. 

Yes, shocks of all shocks - the Leaf feature was scripted for entertainment purposes. 


BBC Top Gear Team Use Handicapped Spaces

BBC Top Gear Team Use Handicapped Spaces

But while electric car fans and journalists alike are being urged by the BBC to remember that Top Gear is an entertainment show rather than a factual motoring program, the episode has faced criticism from a completely different group, one with more political clout - handicapped drivers. 

During the segment, Messers Clarkson and May pulled into a parking lot to discuss the cars. Unfortunately, they occupied at least three handicapped spaces in the process. 


As for the Nissan Leaf? We’re not sure the latest Top Gear episode is anything to worry about. After all, as someone told us earlier this week, “No-one who watches Top Gear and takes what they say seriously would be buying an electric car anyway.”

We think they have a point. 

Is it time to ignore Top Gear's electric car verdicts? Tell us your opinion in the Comments below. 

[BBC, Herald Sun]