An average of just 2.8 million people tuned in to the latest series, which launched on Sunday (5 March) night, peaking with 3.1m.
This figure is way down on the 4.4m who watched the first episode of the last series in 2016, which saw Chris Evans take the helm from previous hosts Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond.
However, the number is up nearly a million compared to the 2016 series finale, which attracted just 1.9m.
The overnight ratings do not include viewers who watch on catch-up services or have recorded the programme.
Nearly four million people watched the 2016 series opener after it had first aired on BBC Two, bringing the final rating to 8.15m.
Official figures for last night’s episode are expected next week.
Despite low ratings, the show received generally favourable reviews from viewers and critics, including The Huffington Post UK Entertainment editor Caroline Frost.
Prior to the episode airing, Matt revealed he was ready to face any criticism, particularly after the mauling of last year’s series.
Speaking to The Sun, the former ‘Friends’ actor said: “I’m certainly prepared for a lot of that to land in my frigging lap now! But we will see. If people are going to throw rocks at whatever they want to throw rocks at, all you can do is hope they won’t hit you on the head!”
‘Top Gear’ continues on Sunday at 8pm on BBC Two.