Jeremy Clarkson is not known for holding back his feelings on most topics, and that goes double for cars. So when he was asked during the live DriveTribe Q&A what car would he give to his worst enemy, you better believe he had a few in mind. Earlier in the discussion he had mentioned that he had arrived to the Q&A in a Renault Scenic, which he said was “very poor”. He also mentioned his dislike for the Mitsubishi PHEV, and stated that he “reserves a special level of hatred for” the Toyota Prius.
So, what makes these cars in particular his (current) least favorites?
Let’s start off with the Renault Scenic. Apparently, Jeremy arrived that night to the studio via a Scenic and he really did not enjoy the experience. He doesn’t go into much detail concerning what specifically he didn’t like, so we can’t say for sure. However, knowing as we do, what Jeremy Clarkson does and does not like in his cars, we can probably make some educated guesses.
According to What Car?, a UK-based car review site, “corner hard and you get lots of body lean, before the nose of the car loses its grip on the road. Factor in precise but uncommunicative steering and you get a car that drives well, but isn’t very enjoyable.” In addition, they say the 1.2 liter engine feels “gutless.” These descriptors, combined with its slightly overly styled body, probably make up the bulk of Clarkson’s displeasure.
Next, we have the Mitsubishi PHEV. Jeremy called it “truly appalling”, and said they “made an absolute total mess of it”. In fact, he said that nobody has made such a mess of an ordinary, standard family car for ten or fifteen years.
So, what is a PHEV? The acronym stands for Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle, while the car itself is a Mitsubishi Outlander, a seven-seater SUV, with a plug-in hybrid system taking the place of the normal drivetrain. It is the first ever hybrid electric SUV that you can plug-in to recharge the batteries. Even though Jeremy had some pretty strong negative words to describe it, the reviews from other sources are mixed, with none as negative as his. Since Jeremy didn’t really elaborate, it’s hard to know exactly what he feels is wrong with it. We can, again, make some educated guesses, though.
The PHEV likely suffers from the same problem that Clarkson has diagnosed in the past on most other complicated hybrid systems, the technology is not yet perfected, and has several notable draw-backs compared to petrol powered locomotion. Additionally, most hybrid systems are heavy, the three engines on board severely curtail performance, and makes it lumber through the corners. The PHEV takes a full 11 seconds to reach 60 mph, significantly slower than its petrol-powered versions (7.7 and 9.3 seconds, respectively for the V6 and 4-cyl versions).
That brings us to the Toyota Prius, a car which Jeremy hasn’t liked from the beginning, even back in his Top Gear days. As he explained in his response on DriveTribe, his issue isn’t really with the car itself, but with the idea of it. Clarkson described it as a “cynical marketing exercise for the gullible and the stupid.”
“Anybody who thinks that mining nickel in Canada and then shipping it across to Norway so it can be turned into batteries and then shipped on a tanker across to Japan and put into a car and then shipped back to America or Canada and is bought by idiots who arrived this morning on the underside of the EuroStar train so they can drive into people all over London because they haven’t a clue where they’re going, that is a moron. And anyone who likes one, buys one or praises one in any way is a complete and utter imbecile.”
That was a bit of a rant, as Hammond was quick to point out, but as Jeremy has explained in the past, the issue is that people are buying Prii thinking that they are doing their part to save the environment, while failing to take into account the overall effect of the mining, shipping, and battery manufacturing process. In short, it’s not so much about the car, but the process and the people who buy it (according to Clarkson).
There you have it. If you’re on Clarkson’s naughty list this year, you can forget the coal, you’re getting one of these.