Vauxhall Mokka long-term test (2022) review | CAR Magazine

Vauxhall Mokka long-term test: the 9000-mile verdict

Published: 08 June 2022 Updated: 08 June 2022

► Living with Vauxhall’s sharp new Mokka
► Jake liked it on launch, will he still over time?
► Ours is a tri-colour SRi Nav Premium

First impressions mean a great deal. My Mokka gleaned many ooohs and aaaaahs when it arrived, with its impactful face and red trimmings.

Second impressions were good too. The interior, while plasticky in places, has a good (ie low) seating position and a no-nonsense approach to putting the most important controls within reach and ensuring information is easily readable. The physical climate dials are simple to use, the instruments are simple to read (even if they look tremendously dull) and there are quick-access buttons for tech like the (largely unused) steering assist for the adaptive cruise and the start/stop (which I usually switched off). Even the infotainment, which I expected to be a nuisance, ended up being less of a fiddle once I was used to it.

The engine is really perky – fizzing and gargling under the bonnet, delivering its power in an easily usable way, with a characterful engine note to match.

But there are plenty of gripes. At low speeds the auto ’box frequently made me feel like a learner at T-junctions waiting for the right gear to kick in. The door sills are too high and the tailgate button is in a stupid place. And the ride, particularly over the rear axle, irritated at low speeds with endless jolts and jittering – as if the Mokka’s had too much caffeine. It settles on motorway cruises.

The biggest grumble, however, is interior space. My colleague Tom Wiltshire found it claustrophobic when he borrowed it for a few days, and I’m inclined to agree. While the ‘shallow glasshouse’ (as designers call it) looks cool from the outside, it makes the inside feel gloomy and tight. As I found on a trip to Northern Ireland, fully loaded with people and stuff, the boot is one of the smallest in the baby-crossover segment. As for rear space… I may as well have run a Corsa. For a car aimed at families, it’s cramped.

As I grab a coffee and reflect on my time with the Mokka, I have an epiphany. It’s like those cream- and syrup-laced buckets of calories with barely any coffee in them that are so popular at big coffee chains – the opposite of the wake-up call a double espresso can be. A bit showy, but very on-trend.

If that’s what Vauxhall was aiming for with the Mokka, then it’s a huge success.

Logbook: Vauxhall Mokka SRi Nav Premium

Price £27,455 (£27,775 as tested)
Performance 1199cc turbocharged three-cylinder, 128bhp, 9.2sec 0-62mph, 124mph
Efficiency 47.1mpg (official), 34.3mpg (tested), 137g/km CO2
Energy cost 15.8p per mile
Miles this month 1703
Total miles 12,599

Count the cost

Cost new £27,755
Part-exchange £23,550
Cost per mile 17.7p
Cost per mile including depreciation 51.1p

Month 7 living with a Vauxhall Mokka: flipping the switch

Time to plug in! The Mokka’s CMP platform is designed to cope with different power sources while being fundamentally the same car. I’ve been trying the electric version, which is practically indistinguishable from mine. Well, apart from some ‘e’ badges, and a green numberplate, and a power meter instead of a rev counter, and it’s cleaner… ANYWAY.

The facts: a 50kWh battery, a single 134bhp e-motor and, when I had the keys, a maximum claimed range of 201 miles (Vauxhall has since changed the standard tyres and made a couple of tweaks to up it to 209). During my time with it, the maximum indicated range was 186 miles. Not bad.

The additional weight’s improved the ride quality – my Mokka’s more jittery than this car – and the EV’s half a second quicker than my 128bhp petrol and plenty zippy around town; you do without the sometimes indecisive eight-speed auto on my car.

Unlike my point last month about the modes meaning very little on my car, the Mokka-e’s modes actually do stuff. Eco reduced power, Normal is, er… normal, and Sport unleashes all of the oomph. I left it in Eco, in which it’s happy pottering about town.

But there’s one big annoyance: the range predictor. It’s all over the place. It says 186 miles on a full charge, but on one occasion dropped to around 130 after a few miles of driving, then went up to 150-ish after another few miles… and so the rollercoaster predictions continued. (Ah, yes, welcome to EVs, Jake; Ed.) While range anxiety isn’t a thing if you’re sticking to short journeys, this feels like you’re riding the Tesla share price bar graph – it’s exhausting.

And yet I’ve seen loads of Mokka-e models on the road. I get it – this is a hugely stylish, super simple EV that doesn’t rock the boat. Perfect for the suburbanite moving up from a small family car, and for those who’ve got a wallbox, a driveway, and an easy commute. By those metrics, Vauxhall’s done its job.

Logbook: Vauxhall Mokka SRi Nav Premium

Price £27,455 (£27,775 as tested)
Performance 1199cc turbocharged three-cylinder, 128bhp, 9.2sec 0-62mph, 124mph
Efficiency 47.1mpg (official), 42.9mpg (tested), 137g/km CO2
Energy cost 15.8p per mile
Miles this month 1760
Total miles 10,896

Month 6 living with a Vauxhall Mokka: mode geekery

When Ben Whitworth recently talked about the drive modes in his Corsa-e in Our Cars, he said Eco made it ‘soul-crushingly slow’ but added a good amount of extra range, while Sport unleashed all the motor’s power. With my Mokka, running on the same platform but with an engine, things are different. Eco sogs up the throttle, yes, but it also lets me coast at speed – great for super-chilled motorway runs, though I can’t say it completely transforms fuel economy. Sport makes the throttle unnecessarily twitchy, accompanied by extra buzzing from the three-cylinder engine, without offering any extra power.

Logbook: Vauxhall Mokka SRi Nav Premium

Price £27,455 (£27,775 as tested)
Performance 1199cc turbocharged three-cylinder, 128bhp, 9.2sec 0-62mph, 124mph
Efficiency 47.1mpg (official), 38.1mpg (tested), 137g/km CO2
Energy cost 18.6p per mile
Miles this month 1232
Total miles 9136

Month 5 living with a Vauxhall Mokka: a big Northern Ireland adventure

You can’t put a small family crossover to a harder test than a fully loaded road trip. That’s the task ahead of the Mokka, which has to became home to myself, my boyfriend and his mum, brother and young sister as we travel from Peterborough via Lincoln to Ballymena in Northern Ireland. The trip is a chance for a long overdue visit for my partner and his family, an opportunity to put the Mokka through its practicality paces, and for me to meet my boyfriend’s family for the first time. The Mokka and I both need to be on our best behaviour, then.

mokka ltt boot full

The Mokka’s boot capacity is stretched to its absolute limit; it takes some clever Tetris-like thinking to get suitcases, bags and all sorts stuffed into it, to the point that the parcel shelf is close to popping off. Then there are the rear seats; thankfully not a problem for 6ft 2in me as the sole driver, except that I do have to inch my seat forward a few clicks to give whoever’s behind me at least some semblance of legroom. Space is so limited back there that the rest of the crew elect to take it in turns to swap between the back seats and the relative luxury of the front passenger seat.

The journey north and west across England and into Scotland drills some habits into me as the driver. Every time I start the car is like a pre-flight checklist: start/stop and lane-keep assistance are switched off (the former causes irritating lurching at roundabouts; the latter is hyperactive on the motorway), check the handy seatbelt light above the rear-view mirror to make sure we’re all clunk-clicked, and ensure my phone’s plugged in for Android Auto. The in-car nav is fine, but there’s are none of the live traffic updates that Google Maps and Waze offer – critical information when you have a ferry to catch.

mokka ltt glenariff

The drive itself is plain sailing; whizzing cross-country to the ferry port in Stranraer is accompanied by the sounds of the fizzy three-cylinder working hard, an excellent Spotify playlist spanning ’80s, ’90s and 2000s music put together by my better half and the odd ‘are we there yet?’ from the youngest.

The ride quality seems to have improved with the additional weight of people and stuff on board. Top it off with an easy (if a little queasy) ferry to Belfast and we’ve hit home territory for four fifths of the Mokka’s occupants.

glenariff waterfall

As well as getting to know the family, it’s also a chance to explore the island of Ireland, both Northern and the Republic – an utterly beautiful place I’d never had the pleasure of visiting before. In the north, the huge valley at Glenariff is teeming with waterfalls; the bustling coastal town of Portrush is a hub for visiting the stunning coastline either side of it – including the Giant’s Causeway. While crossing the border into the Republic (a very understated affair; just a sign telling you to use km/h and little else), that amazing scenery continues. The Mokka is entirely at home scything through central Dublin’s narrow, tram-ridden streets and stretching its legs through the massive Phoenix Park.

Almost all of its rivals have a larger boot, while the Skoda Kamiq and VW T-Cross also have more room in the back. And I wouldn’t mind an extra USB socket in the front. But, quibbles aside, the Mokka takes the trip in its stride.

mokka ltt phoenix park

Other than a thin layer of fly-specked grime on the outside and a whole bunch of miles on the clock, the Mokka’s up for round two when it’s time to do the reverse journey back to Peterborough. That said, although the whole journey is a massive success and a lot of fun, the passengers might want a bit of a break before cramming themselves back in there for a similar adventure.

By Jake Groves

Logbook: Vauxhall Mokka SRi Nav Premium

Price £27,455 (£27,775 as tested)
Performance 1199cc turbocharged three-cylinder, 128bhp, 9.2sec 0-62mph, 124mph
Efficiency 47.1mpg (official), 38.9mpg (tested), 137g/km CO2
Energy cost 16.5p per mile
Miles this month 1805
Total miles 7904

Month 4 living with a Vauxhall Mokka: it’s not the size that counts

mokka ltt instruments

Vauxhall made a big fuss about the addition of digital instruments to its new Mokka. Every version would be fitted with them, along with the central infotainment screen, as part of Vauxhall’s ‘Pure Panel’ cockpit design. For SRi Premium (like mine) and above, the central screen is measured at 10 inches, and the digital instruments clock in at 12 inches.

But Vauxhall has to win an award for least inspiring use of digital space. To the Mokka’s credit, the instruments are clear to read and configurable, but they look so utterly bland; when Ford’s Puma has bright blue instruments and colourful graphics, the Mokka’s layout and graphics feel like they were designed in a rush on a Friday afternoon.

mokka ltt infotainment

Use of space in the central screen is poor, too. Vauxhall says there’s a 10-inch display (measured diagonally) in the centre, but the actually-used space is more like seven, with black panels either side displaying little else other than the air-con temperature. What’s the point in saying it’s 10 inches if it’s not really that? Cars from Peugeot, Citroën and DS have the same screen size but use it better than this – so why can’t Vauxhall?

By Jake Groves

Logbook: Vauxhall Mokka SRi Nav Premium

Price £27,455 (£27,775 as tested)
Performance 1199cc turbocharged three-cylinder, 128bhp, 9.2sec 0-62mph, 124mph
Efficiency 47.1mpg (official), 36.6mpg (tested), 137g/km CO2
Energy cost 17.4p per mile
Miles this month 2007
Total miles 6099

Month 3 living with a Vauxhall Mokka: is the honeymoon over?

mokka ltt tailgate

You know the drill. There’s the sweet, playing-nice period early on in a relationship, but after a while you relax and have to get used to one another’s quirks. Some are cute, others less so. My Mokka has to handle me spilling pumpkin-spice lattes in the cupholder and using the doorbins as literal bins.

But I’m also having to get over some of the Vauxhall’s oddities. You see that little notch on the edge of the tailgate? That’s where the button to release it is, right? WRONG. It’s under the lip above the number plate. It caught myself, friends and family out in the early days but, now I know where it is, it’s just become an inherently un-user-friendly location for it – especially when the Corsa has it neatly hidden underneath the rear badge. The door sills are also too high – while I’m used to arching my leg up, passengers frequently trip over them getting in.

mokka ltt wheel

I always Bluetooth-stream my music, but the phone doesn’t automatically connect, so I have to switch source EVERY time I get in the car. And, like Curtis Moldrich and his Citroën C4, I’ve effectively stopped using the start/stop feature; when paired with the auto ‘box, it makes coming to a stop lurchy and a delay when starting up again blocks me from taking advantage of gaps at roundabouts.

Anyone know a good relationship counsellor?

By Jake Groves

Logbook: Vauxhall Mokka SRi Nav Premium

Price £27,455 (£27,775 as tested)
Performance 1199cc turbocharged three-cylinder, 128bhp, 9.2sec 0-62mph, 124mph
Efficiency 47.1mpg (official), 32.5mpg (tested), 137g/km CO2
Energy cost 17.0p per mile
Miles this month 831
Total miles 4092

Month 2 living with a Vauxhall Mokka: vive la revolution

mokka ltt vs old

The Mokka wouldn’t be where it is today without a healthy dose of Stellantis (formerly PSA) tech and engineering. The platform, engine, gearbox and in-car tech are all the same bits and pieces used by Peugeot, Citroën and DS, and most of it is a massive improvement. But the design is still the knockout difference.

A visit to my mum made me realise her neighbour has had a previous-generation Mokka for a while – but it’s so anonymous I barely noticed it before now. It also shows how the crossover game has moved on. Mine is lower and sleeker than its predecessor. That comes at a cost of rear space, though – it’s cramped back there.

By Jake Groves

Logbook: Vauxhall Mokka SRi Nav Premium

Price £27,455 (£27,775 as tested)
Performance 1199cc turbocharged three-cylinder, 128bhp, 9.2sec 0-62mph, 124mph
Efficiency 47.1mpg (official), 32.5mpg (tested), 137g/km CO2
Energy cost 19.3p per mile
Miles this month 262
Total miles 3261

Month 1 living with a Vauxhall Mokka: hello and welcome

Go big or go home. That’s what you must do if you want the attention of small crossover buyers. There are so many of them out there that they need to be wildly styled and snazzy-looking on a dealer forecourt or TV ad. That’s why the Peugeot 2008 is one of the top 10 best-selling small SUVs in Europe right now.

So Vauxhall is having another, much braver crack of the Mokka whip second time round. And what a whipcrack it’s turned out to be. This thing looks brilliant. I used to sneer at the Mk1 Mokka for being so utterly bland – I’m not sneering any more. The bluff face with its Zorro-mask ‘Vizor’… the shallow glasshouse and floating roof… the honeycomb wheels… the flecks of red across the sides. This is how to design a small family car. I’ve gotten the keys right as Vauxhall rolls out a massive ad campaign for the new model. Passers-by have been eyeing it up with surprise and curiosity – especially when they read the ‘MOKKA’ lettering plastered across the flat rear end.

mokka ltt rear cornering

The interior, too, is thoroughly up to date. Flashes of red in the seats and dashboard, and Vauxhall’s new ‘Pure Panel’ display layout connecting the drivers’ instruments and infotainment display are refreshing. It is a bit of a shame the Mokka runs Groupe PSA-era infotainment, though – I’ve never really got on with it on other test cars. I’m hoping I might warm to it over this longer test.

There are some oddities and evidence of cost saving, like the almost completely flat centre console with a little finger-pull toggle for the auto ‘box and plenty of hard plastics lower down, but the interior layout is sensible. It’s neither plush nor wacky. And it continues the very subtle tradition of incorporating a shark graphic somewhere in each car Opel/Vauxhall makes – in my Mokka, there’s one etched into the cubby underneath the air-con controls.

mokka ltt interior

Ours is in SRi Nav Premium trim, which on paper is mid-range but has a huge amount of kit: adaptive cruise and active lane keeping, parking camera and all-round sensors, LED headlights, traffic sign recognition… The only option on this car is the £320 White Jade paint to contrast with those red streaks that are unique to the SRi trim. My colleague Curtis Moldrich calls it the ‘red velvet cake’ colour combo.

I think we have the best combination of spec, paint and powertrain. It has a fizzy 128bhp three-cylinder petrol engine and eight-speed auto, but I’ll aim to get some real time behind the wheel of the all-electric Mokka-e for a powertrain comparison.

By Jake Groves

Logbook: Vauxhall Mokka SRi Nav Premium

Price £27,455 (£27,775 as tested)
Performance 1199cc turbocharged three-cylinder, 128bhp, 9.2sec 0-62mph, 124mph
Efficiency 47.1mpg (official), 36.2mpg (tested), 137g/km CO2
Energy cost 17.5p per mile
Miles this month 1235
Total miles 2999

By Jake Groves

CAR's deputy news editor, gamer, serial Lego-ist, lover of hot hatches