The BBC has defended Top Gear's performance despite viewing figures plummeting in the show's second outing.
Overnight ratings show that the latest instalment of the BBC Two motoring programme drew 2.8 million viewers, losing around a third of the 4.4 million who watched its relaunch on May 29.
The audience grew throughout the episode, peaking at 3.3 million, but failed to match the ratings of Antiques Roadshow and Soccer Aid.
But consolidated figures - which take into account people who have recorded the show and watched it later - have now pushed ratings for the first episode over the six million mark.
The 6.42 million people who tuned in to Chris' debut is higher than the number of people who watched the first episode of the last three series featuring Jeremy Clarkson.
Alan Tyler, acting controller of BBC Entertainment Commissioning, said the new presenting team, including Chris and Matt LeBlanc, "brilliantly led BBC Two's biggest show of the day, by some margin".
He said Chris' first show had the "highest audience share for an individual transmission (28.8%) since The Great British Bake Off in 2013´´, adding: "It is clear that there is plenty to celebrate about the return of the nation's favourite motoring show."
Chris has also been quick to defend the revamped series, insisting on Twitter that overnight ratings are not important.
The series has been heavily criticised since it returned with Chris, 50, and former Friends actor Matt, 48, at the wheel.
Viewers have blasted it on social media, with many of the comments referring to Chris' "shouty" hosting style.
After the first instalment the star said in a series of posts on Twitter that he was satisfied with how the series opener went.
The series is the first to air since Jeremy was sacked for an "unprovoked physical and verbal attack" on a producer.