The Vauxhall Mokka has been updated for UK buyers before it’s even gone on sale, following criticisms of the ride and handling in early reviews – Auto Express included.
“It’s quite a big decision,” Vauxhall MD Duncan Aldred said. “Everyone’s got different nuances, and I think it’s great that we can accommodate local requirements… we felt we could make a difference.”
Driving the pre-revision cars reiterates why there were complaints about the Mokka’s steering: it has a vague feel on the dead-ahead, marshmallowy-soft lack of response and lots of play.
The engineers have clearly addressed this in the revised version. As well as a right-hand-drive steering calibration, there’s a stiffer gear mounting bush.
The new settings firm up the dead-ahead feel, which means a quicker response and a much more connected sensation; no more ‘dead zone’. This all helps lend the steering a kind of accuracy it never had before, making small adjustments much more noticeable.
The steering isn’t the only area that’s been improved. Vauxhall engineer Gerry Baker explained that there had been some discontent with the ‘crashy’ ride. “Something obviously needed to be done with the damper settings, so we’ve worked hard on those,” he told us. Each engine now gets its own unique suspension tune as well.
The biggest step forward was taken with the 1.4-litre petrol turbo, which suffered a jiggly ride that made the interior uncomfortable over bumpy roads. With a softer front end, it’s now much more compliant and better at soaking up bumps. This makes it a lot more stable and composed.
Body roll was never a major issue with the Mokka, so the combination of sharper steering and a more comfortable and composed ride makes it not only more grown-up to drive, but more exciting, too.
However, as we were told, these aren’t “night and day changes”; they don’t suddenly transform the Mokka from an average car into a great one. The cabin quality could be better, the auto is slow-witted and the gruff diesel needs to be improved, too.
On the plus side, Vauxhall did tell us that no matter how long ago you ordered your Mokka, all of the cars arriving in the UK will be fitted with these updates.