Top Gear's audience plummeted to 2.8 million viewers in its second outing, losing a third of the viewers who watched its debut.
The audience grew throughout the episode, peaking at 3.3 million, but failed to match the ratings of Antiques Roadshow and Soccer Aid.
The BBC Two motoring show drew 4.4 million last week, with a peak of 4.7 million.
The second episode drew 14.3% of the audience share, climbing to 15.8% over the hour.
The figures are expected to grow when consolidated with the numbers of those watching on other platforms.
The average audience for BBC Two on Sundays at 8pm is 2.6 million, with an average share of 9.9%.
The show returned to television last Sunday with Chris Evans and Matt LeBlanc at the helm, but failed to reach the viewing figures of the last series with Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May.
The last series bowed out with 5.8 million viewers.
However, the debut last week was still the most-watched programme in the 8pm time slot, beating Antiques Roadshow on BBC One and the British Soap Awards on ITV.
The new presenting team joined after the old team left following a fracas between lead presenter Clarkson and a producer over hot food.