IT IS HARD to watch Top Gear without a smile on your face. From fun-filled reviews to brilliant misadventures, the series, currently presented by Matt LeBlanc, Chris Harris and Rory Reid, has spent the best part of two decades earning the title of “the world’s biggest motoring show”.

“It is great, honest Sunday night telly, isn’t it?” begins Harris, 44, who joined the BBC Two line-up in 2016.

“One of the accusations we face is that, at times, Top Gear isn’t discussing the motoring issues of the day,” he recognises.

“We (Chris and Rory) are both car journalists and we have a wider repertoire than perhaps this show demonstrates...” he adds, gesturing at his co-star Reid.

“But do you want to be sitting there (watching) three blokes discuss Brexit and the effect on the car industry? I don’t think we need it at 8pm on a Sunday.

“I want to be watching (Rory) trying to make a mountain out of some rocks in a silly little car, with a German woman shouting at him,” he says, chuckling.

“You can often get freaked out when you see the BBC news alerts pop up on your phone, like, ‘Oh God, what is happening now?’” agrees Reid, 39, of its feelgood format. “But this is just pure escapism.”

And with its trademark array of stunning photography, state-of-the-art supercars and celebrity guests (plus The Stig) poised to return, the show’s latest five-part run, its 26th season no less, certainly will not disappoint.

With former Friends star LeBlanc back in the driving seat, and British duo, Harris and Reid, along for the ride, fans will see the team discovering the very best supercar alternatives to the traditional family estate car from Ferrari and Porsche; racing to the top of a mountain in a pair of the smallest 4x4s in the UK and risking life and limb in tuk-tuks across Sri Lanka on both land and sea.

The trio will also measure just how scary the Porsche 911 GT2 RS is with the with the new-fangled gadget the Fearometer 3000, and find out if you can buy and race second-hand luxury cars for less than the cost of a Dacia Sandero.

Mad, maybe. But in the spirit of Top Gear, little-to-nothing is off limits.

“One of the highlights of the series for me is the Suzuki Ignis film,” quips Reid, who also joined the show in 2016.

“So they’re like, ‘Right, test this car... but then they pass down these increasingly more ridiculous series of challenges that seem to escalate over the course of the film.” he notes.

“You never have time to settle into a groove as it always surprises you.”

“They (the producers) have to give you enough information so that you are vaguely prepared,” Harris concurs.

“Because you’ve got to have the right clothes; you can’t go up in a pair of budgie smugglers to go to the North Pole.”

“It’s when they tell you you’ve got to get rabies shots beforehand, you know something dodgy is going to happen,” Reid jokes.

“And the more they tell you, the more chance you have got to say ‘no’.”

But ultimately, it’s the subject matter at hand that appeals, Harris insists.

“People like watching cars,” he says of Top Gear’s longevity.

“The car is the ultimate film hero for me. It always will be,” he insists.

“It’s the easiest thing to make telly out of, it is either ugly or it’s beautiful, it either sounds terrible or it sounds good.

“It will always elicit a reaction, some emotion,” he adds.

“And it’s a very human thing, because people make them.”

“I like to think that you could pause almost any part of a film in Top Gear and you would have a computer wallpaper, a background for your phone,” Reid muses.

“It’s really well shot, really well composed.”

But while the brand’s entertainment value is unwavering, viewers have become accustomed to a changeable presenting line up in recent years.

And series 26 will, in fact, mark LeBlanc’s last hurrah, after he announced last year he would be stepping down from his duties.

The next series, 27, will see Harris welcome comedian Paddy McGuinness and former England cricket captain Andrew (Freddie) Flintoff into the fold; while Reid will head up spin-off show, Extra Gear, with Sabine Schmitz.

“Top Gear has always evolved, it’s always changed,” Reid says of his move.

“The show nowadays doesn’t look anything like it did 20 years ago, but with each evolution, something new comes to the table.

“And I’d be a hypocrite if I said, ‘The show should never change’ because that never would have given me an opportunity.

“So I’m curious to see how it does evolve,” he admits.

“But I’m also really excited to see what we can do with the Extra Gear brand.”

“I do get a daily message from Matt,” Harris confesses.

“He is on the blower most days; he still wanted to do the show, that’s the thing.

“If you wanted a stronger endorsement of how much he loved the show, he wants to know what is going on and he’ll say, ‘What are you driving today?’ ‘What’s it like?’” he reveals.

“He was a big car enthusiast and it’s sad that he couldn’t carry on, but nothing lasts forever.”

And his new co-presenters?

“They’re going to be interesting,” Harris answers.

“They’re great entertainers, so I’m looking forward to working with them.

“I’m sad that I’m not working with Rory and Matt,” he confides.

“But you take what you’re given and you run with it.

“I think it’s as well to remember, even though this is a discussion about a TV show, Top Gear is a big brand. It operates on several platforms,” he finishes.

“We want to maintain its status as number one.

“It’s still the biggest car media brand in the world, and it’s our job to keep it there and make it bigger.”

Top Gear returns to BBC Two on Sunday February 17.