Top Gear has been criticised by the Mexican Ambassador to the UK for a series of “outrageous, vulgar and inexcusable insults”.

His Excellency Eduardo Medina-Mora Icaza wrote to the corporation to complain about the comments made in an episode broadcast on January 30 and demanded the show’s hosts, Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond, make a public apology.

In the episode, which can be watched on iPlayer, Richard joked that Mexican cars reflected national characteristics, saying they were “just going to be lazy, feckless, flatulent oaf with a moustache, leaning against a fence asleep, looking at a cactus with a blanket with a hole in the middle on as a coat”.

James described Mexican food as “like sick with cheese on it” and Jeremy predicted they would not get any complaints about the show because “at the Mexican embassy, the ambassador is going to be sitting there with a remote control like this [snores]. They won’t complain, it’s fine.”

In his letter to the BBC, the Ambassador wrote: “The presenters of the programme resorted to outrageous, vulgar and inexcusable insults to stir bigoted feelings against the Mexican people, their culture as well as their official representative in the United Kingdom.

“These offensive, xenophobic and humiliating remarks only serve to reinforce negative stereotypes and perpetuate prejudice against Mexico and its people.”

It is not the first time the show, with its blend of motoring news, schoolboy humour and audacious stunts, has got into trouble.

In 2008, the show was rapped by the BBC Trust for showing Jeremy and James sipping gin and tonics at the wheel during a stunt.