► Vauxhall's new Mokka crossover
► Distinctive new looks and fresh engines
► Available from £20,735
Your eyes don’t deceive you: this really is the new Vauxhall Mokka. We, frankly, didn’t quite believe Opel/Vauxhall design boss Mark Adams when he said that the GTX Experimental concept was a preview to this all-new crossover, built from the ground up using PSA platforms and technology.
Humble pie quickly eaten when the first pictures were revealed, now we’ve driven it. Here, we’re testing a petrol automatic version. Want to know about the all-electric Mokka e? Click here.
Woah, what a change!
Definitely. Gone is the fuddy-duddy and dumpy looks of the Mokka’s predecessor, replaced with an all new and thoroughly modern look from Mark Adams and Co. The all-new Mokka is the start of a new design language from Vauxhall, with the new ‘Vizor’ front panel on the exterior, chunky wheelarches and sharp lines.
Inside, there’s a design revolution, too – going beyond even the new Corsa in terms of modernisation. It’s all part of Mark’s ‘Pure Panel’ mantra – keeping fuss to a minimum, and designing a dashboard that looks like it flows the digital instruments and central touchscreen in one. Other details include a super-minimalist shifter for the automatic gearbox versions, a lot like VW Group’s efforts with the latest Golf and A3.
Our SRi Nav Premium test car had supportive seats, with thick side bolstering and a kitch pattern on them. There’s ample adjustment in the driver’s seat, with allowance for drivers (like me) to whump it to the floor like a touring car driver. Material quality is good, with chunky indicator stalks and familiar PSA switchgear dotted around. The central touchscreen uses the much maligned PSA software, but arguably seemed to run faster here than previous experiences. Still, the digital instruments (seven inches on lower-end trims, 10 on higher) are clean and easy to digest, and come with varying layouts to suit you.
The only fly in the interior ointment is the rear space – tall adults might suffer sitting behind an equally tall driver in terms of legroom, but will have plenty of headroom. Boot space is rated at 350 litres, which is fine and adjusted with a movable boot floor, but the Mokka doesn’t excel here when up against myriad crossover rivals.
What engines can you get?
Vauxhall offers two 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol engines (99bhp and 127bhp – the latter available with an eight-speed auto) and a 1.5-litre diesel. Along with the combustion engine versions, Vauxhall offers the Mokka e, an EV with a 50kWh battery and 134bhp. We tested the 127bhp petrol with an eight-speed auto.
It’s arguably all familiar territory to those who have tried the latest Corsa, or Peugeot’s 208/2008 or Citroen’s C3 and C3 Aircross. The engine has a properly characterful gargly three-cylinder engine note and can get out of its own way, too.
When mated to the eight-speed auto, shifts are smooth in auto and can be controlled by pressing the ‘M’ button on the shifter – the new Mokka comes with wheel-mounted shift paddles. They’re a tad plasticky in feel but they manage not to surprise the auto ‘box when a shift is requested, so there’s little to no lurching when you want a different gear.
What about the Mokka’s handling?
If you’ve not read our Mokka e review already, I’d say that model is fractionally more comfortable in terms of ride quality. There’s an additional softness to the way it rides over lumps and ruts that is missing with the combustion engine Mokka variants. Still, damping is impressive no matter what variant you go for – while it may jitter over lumps a tad more than the Mokka e, the Mokka in general is still a better compromise than the ‘sporty’ Puma and downright irritating Juke.
As for overall handling, it’s a sweet blend. Opel/Vauxhall’s engineers have clearly been busy tweaking their own geometry for the steering, adding in welcome weight to the usual PSA’s excessively light steering. It’s the Mokka’s supremely light kerbweight here that does it some favours for keen drivers, with excellent body control and grip available if the moment takes you. Even with the automatic, flicking the drive mode into Sport mode and getting aggressive with your steering inputs… the Mokka is right there with you, ready for action.
Vauxhall Mokka: verdict
Comparing this new Mokka to its predecessor would be a low bar, in reality; the drab looks, dated interior and stodgy drive of the old one is nowhere to be seen here. No, while this new Mokka isn’t perfect – particularly in terms of practicality – we can comfortably say it’s now a small crossover worth looking at. I’d chalk that up as a result for Vauxhall.
Read more Vauxhall reviews here
Specs below for a Mokka SRi Nav Premium 130 automatic