Actor Philip Glenister is being lined up to replace former Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson, the Sun on Sunday reports.

Glenister, 52, famously played gruff DCI Gene Hunt in BBC hit shows MLife on Mars and Ashes to Ashes, where his imported red Audi Quattro gave rise to his popular catchphrase, "Fire up the Quattro!"

"Philip is a real man's man, so we know he will appeal to the viewers, who tuned in because they liked Jeremy," a BBC insider told the Sun.

"But we also know he has a lot of credibility, because he is a genuine car fanatic and is clearly very comfortable talking about them.

"It also helps that he is considered a friend of the BBC. Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes were both massive hits for the channel."

The new Clarkson

Motoring fan Glenister made his presenting debut last year in the Channel 4 show For the Love of Cars, which was commissioned for a second series this year.

The BBC insider told the Sun: "For the Love of Cars gave the bosses a real feel for Philip as a TV presenter, and they were impressed.

"There are more experienced hosts being considered, but they just think he would be a really good fit for next year's Top Gear.

"They are planning a massive revamp, but at the same time they don't want to reinvent the wheel – it still has to appeal to fans."

Glenister has already made a couple of Top Gear appearances. He adopted the brusque persona of Gene Hunt in a 2008 Children in Need sketch alongside Clarkson's co-presenter Richard Hammond, who he named "Richie Rodent" – a play on the diminutive presenter's nickname, The Hamster.

Glenister also appeared on Top Gear's Star in a Reasonably Priced Car segment in 2006, where he was interviewed by Clarkson, whose contract with the BBC was not renewed earlier this year following a spat with one of the show's producers.

A spokeswoman for the BBC and Glenister declined to comment on the rumours.

Great British Bake Off host Sue Perkins is currently the bookies' favourite to present Top Gear with even odds, according to bookmakers Coral.

Perkins is ahead of presenter Dermot O'Leary at 2-1 and former supermodel and car fan Jodie Kidd at 5-2.