Spent the weekend in a Dodge Avenger, the latest (and arguably the boldest) attempt yet by the Americans to crack the European Mondeo segment.

A few months ago I went on the launch of the Chrysler Sebring, the upmarket version of the same car. And I remember thinking, “how on earth are Dodge going to make the Avenger seem like the cheap alternative here?”

Have no fear: they’ve managed it. The Sebring interior was lively and its build quality was, well, debatable. But there can be little doubt, as you sit in the Avenger and gaze over acres of Proton-grade grey plastic, that you are in a cheap automobile.

Trouble is, when you take quality and rivals into account, it’s not that cheap. A 2.0 CRD Avenger will set you back almost £16,000, yet if you walk into any car supermarket you can pick up a delivery-mileage pre-reg Focus diesel – just as practical and far, far more capable on road – for roughly the same money.

And therein lies the problem for Dodge. Its brand is such that it cannot hope to go upmarket. And yet its build costs are such that it can’t really compete with bread-and-butter rivals either.

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