“Oh, she’s electric,” remarked a young man on the pavement as I stepped out of our Outlander. I should explain, in case you think I’d encountered someone who spends his days standing on street corners quoting Oasis songs at people, that this budding car enthusiast had merely spotted the large 'PHEV' badge on the flanks of the car.
Can you remember a time when 'cavalier' wasn’t merely the attitude of the White House’s incumbent but one of the most prolific automobiles on UK roads? Then settle into a bout of nostalgia as we look back at our 1989 and 1990 What Car? Family Car of the Year winner, the Mk3 Vauxhall Cavalier.
Buyers will be able to choose from four trim levels – SE, Sport, M Sport and M Sport X. Even entry-level SE comes with plenty of equipment, including cruise control, sat-nav, 17in alloy wheels, front fog lights and dual-zone climate control. Sport models additionally receive sports seats, black gloss exterior trim, LED headlights and larger alloy wheels.
You do get a lot of kit for that money, mind you, including a range of safety and convenience features such as adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and a collision-mitigation system. The exterior has plenty of colour-keyed elements to please the eye, including bumpers, mirrors and door handles, and the interior is swathed in nappa leather.
In certain circumstances, time is a healer. But after that glowing build-up, it seems time has wounded our once great champ. Climb inside the Mk3 Cavalier now and you’re met with a driving position that simply wouldn’t cut the mustard today. The non-adjustable steering wheel is offset so far to the left that you’re left wondering if your passenger should be the one steering, while the La-Z-Boy-esque seats lack any form of lateral support, sending you sliding sideways round the first hairpin bend.
If your car regularly breaks down and leaves you stranded, or even if it just suffers from a plague of minor faults that require regular trips to the garage, you’re far less likely to pick the same brand again.
"It was unbelievable," Miller recalled of his first months at Ford in the 2003 interview with Automotive News. "During World War II they lost money on cost-plus contracts. Now that takes some skill, to lose money on a cost-plus contract."
When Congress began pressing Detroit automakers to do more to prevent automobile accidents, Miller and Ford acknowledged that the auto industry was slow to embrace safety and pledged to support federal efforts to enhance occupant protection.
Indeed, he was right: it is a petrol-electric plug-in hybrid (PHEV) – bang on-trend for our changing times, despite actually having been on sale in the UK since 2014. Underneath our Mitsubishi’s long bonnet is a conventional 2.0-litre petrol engine mated to two battery-driven electric motors, one at the front and one at the rear, enabling the Outlander PHEV to be driven by engine power alone, by the batteries or by a combination of the two. These batteries can be charged a little while the car’s on the move or plugged into the mains for a much more sizeable dosage. Fully charged, our PHEV should then have an electric-only range of around 30 miles. Perhaps more impressively, its official fuel consumption is listed at 166.1mpg and its CO2 figure as 41g/km, which is extraordinarily good for such a large and practical five-seat SUV.
American society no longer permits the business community to limit itself to production, sales and the accounting columns, Miller told The New York Times in July 1978.