Vauxhall Mokka review
The Vauxhall Mokka is a compact crossover, with chunky off-road looks and a spacious interior
The Vauxhall Mokka is the manufacturer’s long-overdue entry into the competitive crossover segment. But with talented rivals like the Skoda Yeti, Nissan Juke and Kia Sportage all proving popular, where does the Mokka fit in? It sits halfway between the Juke and Yeti in size, with a raised ride height, plastic bumpers and a prominent bonnet that gives it a rugged, off-road look. Engine options include a 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol and an efficient 1.7-litre diesel. There are three trim levels to choose from, including a well-equipped Tech Line version that's aimed at company car buyers looking to keep options to a minimum. Plus, there’s the choice of either two or four-wheel drive. However, the Mokka isn't particularly refined. It also has a higher price tag than its rivals and it’s not as much fun to drive, either.
Our choice: Mokka Tech Line 1.7 CDTi ECOflex start/stop 2WD
The Mokka takes its inspiration from the Corsa and Astra, with ‘eagle-eye’ headlights and a ‘signature blade’ running down either side of the body. The wide chrome bar across the grille and oversized Griffin badge dominate the front, while the wide arches are filled by standard 18-inch alloy wheels. All Mokkas comes with protective cladding around the bumpers and wheelarches, roof rails and front and rear skid plates, and as it’s longer, taller and wider than the Nissan Juke, the Mokka looks more substantial on the road. But it does lack the distinctive styling of the quirky Juke and the more utilitarian Skoda Yeti. Inside, the steering wheel and dials will be familiar to Astra owners but the centre console is smart and the switchgear all feels well made. Large wing mirrors and windows provide good visibility, while lots of adjustment to the seat and steering wheel should make it easy to get comfy. Entry-level Exclusiv cars come with parking sensors, air-con, automatic lights and wipers, heated door mirrors, cruise control, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, Bluetooth and a DAB radio. Range-topping SE cars also get luxuries like heated sports seats, Xenon headlights, a heated steering wheel and privacy glass.
The 128bhp 1.7-litre four-cylinder turbocharged diesel is our pick of the range – and it’s also expected to be the biggest seller. Although it’s not particularly refined, it is a stronger performer, especially on the motorway, where the 300Nm of torque gives the Mokka plenty of overtaking power. However, picking a petrol version of the Mokka will leave you disappointed. The 1.6-litre engine is really underpowered and would struggle up even small inclines, while the quicker 1.4-litre turbo is noisy at higher revs. Following criticisms of its ride and handling in early reviews, Vauxhall has since tweaked the Mokka for UK roads. Each engine variant now gets its own bespoke suspension set up and, although still firm, improved damping means it no longer thumps over potholes. The steering is more weighted, too, which makes it more responsive. However, the steering still lacks feel and the Mokka isn't as comfortable as rivals like the Skoda Yeti or VW Tiguan.
The Vauxhall Mokka received a five-star Euro NCAP rating when it was tested in 2012, with a very impressive 95 per cent for adult occupant protection a score of 100 per cent in the safety assist category. Every Mokka comes with ESP, all-round seatbelt reminders, Isofix fittings and a full suite of airbags fitted as standard. Vauxhall has worked hard to improve the reliability of its cars: The brand finished 13th out of 30 in the 2012 Driver Power survey, having climbed an amazing 16 places in 12 months to finish just ahead of BMW and Audi. All of the engines have been tried and tested in the Vauxhall Astra and so should prove to be trouble free. The chassis platform is new, though, and therefore untested. The materials inside are of a good quality but some areas, such as the thin seat cloth, feel like they will wear over time.
One thing it does have in its favour is plenty of space. Although it’s based on the same platform as the Corsa supermini, the Mokka certainly makes the most of its compact dimensions At over 4.2 metres long, the Mokka is almost the same size as the Nissan Qashqai, so there is easily enough room for five adults, with lots of head and legroom. There are plenty of family friendly cubbyholes inside, too. The boot is one of the biggest in its class, at 356 litres, which is considerably larger than the Juke and MINI Countryman, which have just 251 and 350 litres. However, it’s still much smaller than similarly priced but slightly larger rivals like the Yeti and Qashqai, which offer 416 and 410 litres respectively. Folding the 60:40 split seats creates a useful 1,372-litre load area, while the wide and low opening makes loading luggage simpler. A set of nylon tags make flipping seat bases easier, too. Plus, there’s an integrated bike carrier that pops out of the rear bumper, just like on the Corsa. If you’re planning to use the Mokka off-road, it comes fitted as standard with traction and stability control, plus systems such as Hill Start Assist – which prevents the car from rolling backwards on a slope – and Hill Descent Control, which allows it to negotiate steep slopes at a controlled speed.
The most efficient model is the front-wheel-drive 1.7 CDTi diesel with a six-speed manual, as it has an official fuel economy figure of 62.8mpg and CO2 emissions of 120g/km. Opting for four-wheel drive pushes this up to 129g/km, which doesn't affect how much you'll pay in road tax but does push it up one benefit-in-kind bracket. Opting for the six-speed automatic gearbox will have an even bigger effect on these figures, at 53.3mpg and 139g/km, as only the manual models come with a fuel-saving stop-start system. The petrols are much more expensive to run, with the 1.4-litre turbo emitting 149g/km and returning 44.1mpg. The entry-level 1.6-litre petrol manages just 43.5mpg and 153g/km and can only be had with a rather dated five-speed manual gearbox. Servicing and insurance costs should be reasonable, though, and as with all new Vauxhalls, it comes with a 100,000-mile warranty.