► Vauxhall's Mokka X tested
► Part of three-crossover line-up
► Big choice of engines and trims
The Vauxhall Mokka was a big success from the off, leaping into the British top 10 and tapping into a surge in demand for compact SUVs.
It morphed into the Mokka X in 2016, as part of Vauxhall's creation of the X family of crossovers, currently consisting of the Mokka X, Crossland X (slightly smaller and cheaper than Mokka X, with front-drive only) and Grandland X (slightly bigger and more expensive than Mokka X; also front-drive only).
It wasn't just a name change. The interior was spruced up, with an Astra-inspired dash, and the engine line-up revised.
But of course Vauxhall isn't the only one aiming to cash in on the boom in compact SUVs. The competition (some more directly comparable than others) is strong and varied, and in some cases very keenly priced. They include the Renault Captur, Fiat 500X, Suzuki's SX4 S-Cross and Vitara, and the hugely successful Nissan Juke.
What flavours of Mokka can I choose from?
Priced from £18,455 on the road, the range now includes a 1.6-litre petrol engine, a 1.4-litre turbo petrol in two forms and a 1.6-litre turbodiesel, again offered in two levels of tune. They're available in various combinations of front- and all-wheel drive, with manual and automatic gearboxes. There are four spec levels: Active, Design Nav, Elite and Elite Nav.
There's a lot of equipment fitted as standard to every Mokka X. The Design Nav spec of our test car seems a well-judged combination of kit, including foglights, an 8in touchscreen, cruise control, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto infotainment, Vauxhall's OnStar assistant, dual-zone climate control, tyre pressure monitoring, a leather-covered steering wheel, 18in alloy wheels and much else besides. Go up through the range, add a few options, and you can get a Mokka X that's plushy upholstered, classily tinted, highly connected, big wheeled and kitted with intelligent LED headlights.
When you step up to Elite Nav spec you're paying for full leather upholstery and other features that might seem like overkill in what is still at heart a modestly sized, modestly powered car for modestly sized families.
Vauxhall puts a lot of emphasis on the electronic driving aids and infotainment fitted to the Mokka X. The most basic models come with a 7in touchscreen (our car had a larger 8in system) and cruise control, and Vauxhall's OnStar assistance service.
As with many SUV-style vehicles, the driver and front passenger get a high-ish perch and a good view out, with a reasonable amount of head, elbow and knee room. There's not so much room for adults in the back, but it's OK for short journeys. Two or even three children would be fine for space.
The boot is a useful size, although the rival Renault Captur offers much more luggage space with the rear seats up. The glovebox and all four door pockets are too small to be particularly useful.
Our test period coincided with some hot English summer weather. The climate control coped badly for the front occupants and left those in the back feeling extremely uncomfortable.
How does it drive?
It's not great. The steering is unhelpfully light, depriving the driver of useful information about the relationship between the road and the front wheels. The pedals are jerky, making it difficult to pull smoothly away from the lights, not helped by gearing that's set up for economy rather than fluent acceleration.
The all-wheel-drive system on our test car is unobtrusive and for most people entirely unnecessary. Yes, it would give you a bit more control on a loose or wet surface but you're not going greenlaning in the Mokka X, as doesn't have much ground clearance or under-body protection.
The suspension is poorly damped, so the car copes badly with bumps are rarely feels settled even on smooth roads. There's an unwelcome amount of wind noise and engine noise, too.
So there's a lot of kit, and the fundamentals seem to be in place: economical and reasonably lively engine, intelligent all-wheel drive, and a style that the public just can't get enough of. On paper, this is good.
And yet there's plenty about the Mokka X that fails to live up to perfectly reasonable expectations for a £20,000 car. The Captur and the slightly smaller Juke are not perfect either, but both are better to drive and give a greater impression of being quality products.
Check out the rest of our Vauxhall reviews