"Probably no major industrial company in America's history was ever run so poorly for so long," Halberstam said of Ford. "Only its sheer size saved it, that and, in the war, the government's dependence upon it for military production."
We like General Motors’ free-spinning 3.6-liter V-6 in most of its applications, and it does a fine job in the 1LE most of the time, pulling cleanly from low revs and making the snarling noises you’d expect from a pony car when pressed a little harder. But although it runs to 7000 rpm without complaint, it also does so without fireworks, struggling to deliver on straight-line pace when compared to either its more muscular siblings or the broader sports-car segment. It wasn’t that long ago that a 5.2-second zero-to-60-mph time would have been regarded as a serious achievement, but now it feels almost leisurely, as does the 13.8-second quarter-mile time at a trap speed of just 101 mph. For perspective, the V-8 1LE reaches 70 mph in less time than it takes the V-6 car to get to 60, and it will be past 120 mph by the time the smaller-engined car reaches 100.
Regular Outlanders have always sold pretty well, even if they make do with nothing more exciting than a conventional 2.2-litre diesel engine. But it’s the PHEV version that has caught the eye of more than just the young man I mentioned earlier – it’s the UK’s best-selling electrified vehicle, with more than 25,000 cars sold, and that's despite the halving last year of the Government grant that applies when buying a new one. So popular is it that it actually accounts for nearly 50% of all the PHEVs on the road.
Our new long-termer is a 2016 one-careful-owner car, which I picked up from the bustling Mitsubishi main dealer Shelly Motors in Epsom, Surrey. There, brand manager Lee Higlett talked me through some of the finer points of Outlander ownership. On close inspection, our PHEV certainly seems little troubled by its one year of usage. I was interested to hear that if you were to buy one like ours from a main dealer, it would currently set you back around £28,000. New, our top-spec 5hs will set you back a whopping £43,555, and that’s after subtracting the £2500 grant – so straight away there’s something to be gained by buying it at this age.
As for such a car’s real-life implications, we don’t want to indulge in too much wishful thinking. But there has been plenty of talk of a new Honda-badged sports car in recent years. We first entertained the possibility of Honda’s mid-engined Porsche Cayman fighter in 2015, while more recent rumors have centered around a revived S2000 roadster, possibly with hybrid power. At this point, we can only live out our fantasies in the video-game world and hold out hope that this virtual Honda is more than just talk.
Check exterior lights
“The driving position appeals to me,” she told us. “A lot of women like to be higher up with a better view of the road, and I don’t need to be too close to the wheel to get that. It’s the feeling of security and being up off the ground that I like.”
As ever, most buyers in this market will buy on a PCP finance deal, where the X2 could be more competitive. Demand is expected to be high, though, meaning that Target Price discounts will be slim for the forseeable future.
Step inside, press the bright red starter button and the supercharged V8 bursts into life with an intensity that is often missing from modern-day turbocharged engines. It’s a real brute of an engine that is absolutely brimming with character; at low speeds, you’re treated to a lovely V8 warble that's soon joined by a delicious, high-pitched wail from the supercharger as the revs climb. It’s an intoxicating soundtrack that is backed up by prodigious levels of performance.
When the weather is bad and the roads are slippery, there is more chance of you losing control of your car. This manifests itself as a slide, which can turn into oversteer or understeer, depending on what kind of car you are driving, what steering you are doing and the throttle and braking that you are using.