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First drive: Dodge Nitro 2.8 CRD SXT Auto – on sale September 2007


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The Nitro represents Dodge’s first attempt at securing a share of the lucrative 4x4 sector in Britain.

A truly American vehicle with its bold, brash and aggressive styling, the Nitro comes with a capable 2.8-litre diesel engine.

Though it sounds quite unrefined, the performance is good and, combined with a relatively long wheelbase and wide stance, makes driving comfortable both on motorways and A-roads.

Visibility from the cabin is fine, though the windscreen feels very shallow.

The SXT model tested comes with some rather bling-looking 20-inch alloy wheels, which should appeal to younger buyers.

But it’s the interior that lets down the Nitro.

From the dash to the doors, there is acres of plastic in numerous finishes and varying shades of grey, giving a budget feel to the car. Competitors such as the Sorento and Santa Fe outperform the Nitro here.

However, there are nice touches, such as the integrated mobile phone holder in the sliding armrest. All SXT models come with YES Essentials seat fabrics. These are soil-repellent and easy to clean, a welcome feature for families. Dealers should not miss a chance to point these out.

The Nitro may not appeal to the masses, but it will sell to those looking for an alternative SUV.

Price: £23,590
Engine: 2.8 CRD; 174bhp @ 3,800rpm
Performance: 0-62mph 10.5sec; top speed 113mph
Transmission: Five-speed automatic
Efficiency: 30.1mpg combined; 250g/km CO2
Rivals: Hyundai Santa Fe, Kia Sorento, Isuzu Rodeo Denver
Strengths: Unique looks and styling
Opportunity: Lovers of big, brash American cars
Threat: Tough competition

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