WENT to a very warm and sunny Seville to drive the first D-sector four-door car from Dodge, which is part of the DaimlerChrysler family. The Dodge Avenger is due in the UK in September and measures a massive 4,850mm long – compared to Mondeo saloon at 4,731mm and Passat at 4,765mm. The exterior styling is spot-on, but interior quality lets it down.
As a used car in years to come it will have some appeal as it just stands out from the crowd and should end up at an affordable price – a big car for not much money. It’s in a sector where residuals are worsening and Dodge has no record of used sales, especially in such tough market.
If you want an Avenger 2.0-litre diesel with alloys the new price will be £18,000, which seems a bit expensive.
STILL with Dodge in Spain to drive the first Dodge 4x4 to come to the UK, the Nitro, which is a good and powerful name with looks to match. It’s a bold-looking vehicle, very masculine, tough and rugged. In North America it is bought equally by men and women, but here the story will be different: it’s a bloke’s car. Sorry ladies.
The interior quality, like the Avenger, could be better but it’s the exterior looks that make it desirable. We drove it on motorways, country roads and on a ‘soft-road’ course. It didn’t do anything exceptionally well, but coped with all conditions adequately.
This is the first of many new 4x4s from the Chrysler Jeep group, but I’m confused as to where they will all sit in the market and who will buy them. The Nitro’s competitors, Dodge says, are the Kia Sorento, Hyundai Santa Fe, Chevrolet Captiva, and even the SsangYong Kyron. As mentioned in past weeks, this year is awash with new SUVs entering the market and like the rest, the Nitro will have a battle on, not only new but in the used market over the coming years.
BACK down to Valencia to drive the all-new BMW 3 Series convertible, mostly in the sun, but as is becoming the norm whenever I go near a convertible it started raining heavily.
With the roof down, windows up and wind deflector in place there is very little noise or wind around your head. With the roof up, you’d think you were in a hard-top coupe. When you drive a 325i or 335i saloon or coupe you cannot appreciate the exhaust noise, but on the convertible you can hear the fantastic roar. It’s just brilliant.
This is the fourth generation 3 Series convertible – the last one launched in 1999, and since then over 41,000 have been sold in the UK. BMW expect a similar number to be sold during its lifecycle.
Residuals are rock solid: an 80,000-mile 2002/02 320Ci is still worth £11,000, from a cost new of £25,500. The new tin-top starts at £30,600 for a 320 SE, which might seem big price jump but in real terms has not really gone up that much, especially as it has that elegant metal roof.