Vauxhall Mokka: car review
A practical small crossover, but the diesel is unrefined.
What is it?
The Vauxhall Mokka is the company’s new compact crossover. It’s a rival for the Mitsubishi ASX, Nissan Qashqai and Skoda Yeti.
How safe is it?
All the modern safety equipment you’d expect is fitted, but the Mokka’s all-round visibility could be better.
Who should buy one?
If you want a small but practical five-seater with 4×4 styling cues, the Mokka is worth a look. It’s not as cheap as some rivals, though – the Vauxhall costs at least £16,995.
Our review: Good Motoring, Spring 2013
DRIVING AND PERFORMANCE
There’s a choice of three engines. Petrol buyers can pick either a 113bhp 1.6 or a 138bhp 1.4-litre turbo. The less powerful engine sends power to the front wheels, while all the 1.4 Turbo cars are four-wheel drive. There’s also a 128bhp 1.7-litre diesel, in both front- and four-wheel-drive versions.
We’ve yet to drive the 1.6, but have driven the two more powerful options. The diesel is disappointing, not so much for what it does but for the way it does it. It sounds gruff and irritable when accelerating, and isn’t entirely quiet even when cruising. Not a lot happens until around 2000rpm, although once the engine wakes up performance is respectable.
The 1.4 Turbo is more fun. It’s only 0.6 seconds quicker to 62mph (9.4 seconds instead of 10 seconds), but it feels much more lively and willing to rev. It also rests a lot easier on the ears.
Whichever engine is under the bonnet there’s no disguising the wind noise, which is intrusive at motorway speeds. The lacklustre ride, which is too stiff and jiggly for our liking, is another disappointment. Firm suspension means the Mokka corners tidily enough, but it’s not as composed or enjoyable as a Skoda Yeti.
SPACE AND PRACTICALITY
For a car which doesn’t take up much more space on the road than a supermini, the Mokka is quite roomy. Even tall drivers should be able to get comfortable, although you sit rather high even with the seat on its lowest setting. The major controls are all within easy reach, but there’s a rash of similar looking buttons on the centre console and if sat-nav is fitted the system isn’t the most intuitive.
What the Mokka’s dash lacks in ease of use it makes up for in quality. The launch of the Insignia in 2008 marked a real turning point for Vauxhall’s interior plastics and trim, and the standard of finish has been consistently high since. Most of what you can see and touch in the Mokka looks appealing and feels made to last. The quality continues in the back of the car, with enough space for two adults to be comfortable, although three will feel a bit cosy.
Boot capacity? There’s 356 litres of space with the rear seats upright. That’s more than enough for most weekly shops, but both the Nissan Qashqai and Skoda Yeti offer more space. Fold the 60/40 split rear seats down and there’s 1372 litres to fill.
Every car has stability control, including Hill Start Assist (which stops the car from rolling backwards on a slope even if you forget to apply the handbrake) and Hill Descent Control (which limits the car’s speed when going down a slope). All cars have front, side and full-length curtain airbags, and ISOFIX child seat mounting points.
You can’t fault the Mokka’s list of safety equipment, but that’s not the be-all and end-all of safety; we found all-round visibility to be poor. The windscreen pillars are very thick, something you need to be mindful of at junctions. The thick rear pillars and small rear windscreen restrict your view when reversing, although most versions have parking sensors which makes this less of an issue.
The Mokka has yet to be crash tested by Euro NCAP, but recent Vauxhalls have scored five out of five for overall protection and there’s no reason to expect the Mokka to fall short of this yardstick.
Even basic models are far from sparse. S trim cars have air conditioning, heated door mirrors, electric front windows, a trip computer, cruise control, a digital radio and 16-inch alloys. Exclusiv cars add dual-zone climate control, a USB connector, a leather-covered steering wheel, rains-sensitive wipers, electric rear windows, front fog lights, front and rear parking sensors and larger alloys. Tech Line models add sat-nav to Exclusiv’s list of toys. SE models miss out on sat-nav, but have leather seat facings, electrically heated front seats and steering wheel, Adaptive Forward Lighting (which changes the beam pattern when cornering) and xenon headlamps.
That’s a pretty respectable list of goodies, and compares well with the Mokka’s rivals.
Vauxhall saddled the Mokka with some stiff prices; even the cheapest 1.6 petrol costs £16,995. You can put a Nissan Qashqai on your drive for £140 less, while the entry-level Skoda Yeti undercuts the Mokka by £2050. The 1.4 Turbo is priced from £18,200 and the diesels cost at least £17,445. You can usually count on a healthy discount from a Vauxhall dealer, though, so the chances are the transaction price will be considerably lower.
Low running costs help offset the initial expense. The various Mokka models sit in insurance groups between 5 and 14 which should make for affordable premiums. It’s the Mokka’s economy and emissions figures which really impress. The two-wheel-drive diesel manual returns 62.8mpg and emits just 120g/km of CO2. The 4×4 is a little thirstier, but still achieves 57.6mpg and emits 129g/km of CO2.
Despite being considerably more powerful and being four-wheel drive, the 1.4 Turbo promises better economy than the 1.6. Expect 44.1mpg from the 1.4 T, while the 1.6 should return 43.5mpg.
Those figures put the diesels in Band C for Vehicle Excise Duty (Band E for the automatic model). The 1.4 T is in Band F, while the 1.6 is in Band G.
A practical small crossover, but the diesel is unrefined.
AT A GLANCE:
Performance: 0-62mph in 9.6 seconds
Insurance: 11 (1-50)
Tax: Band F (£135)
(Figures for 1.4 Turbo 16v Start/Stop 4×4 Tech Line)