Sam Philip 28 November 2012

The Vauxhall Mokka: now better

Vauxhall takes Top Gear advice on board, improves its mini-SUV. We report

Vauxhall Mokka

In the December issue of Top Gear magazine, we reviewed the Vauxhall Mokka, GM’s new rival to the Skoda Yeti and Nissan Qashqai.

It was not the most complimentary of reviews, lamenting the Mokka’s “appalling, crashy ride”, describing it as “noisy, unrefined and average to drive… a nasty blip in Vauxhall’s recent upsurge.” We awarded the Mokka a three-out-of-ten score.

Vauxhall, as you might expect, read our review. Then phoned us. And said… yes, you’re right, the Mokkas you drove were not good enough. Vauxhall explained that, following some pretty scathing feedback of the early Euro-spec cars, it had revised the Mokka for the UK market, specifically its steering and lumpy ride.

So we drove the upgraded Mokka, which we’re happy to report is considerably better. We tried pre-revision and post-revision cars back to back, and the improvement in ride particularly was noticeable. The build 1.1 Mokka is far less floaty over bad tarmac, absorbing bumps with more composure and less wallowy rebound. That’s thanks to new dampers front and rear, while improvements in both hardware and software have sharpened the previously distant steering. It’s still not best-in-class, but it’s entirely passable now.

The dreadful wind noise from our original test cars, Vauxhall admitted, was caused by a missing piece of foam around the window frames. This was in place on our UK drive – as it will be on customer cars – rendering the Mokka’s cabin much quieter at motorway speeds. In fact, we’d go as far as to describe refinement as ‘decent’.

Look, we’re not going to about-turn and claim the Mokka is now one of our favourite little SUVs: the Skoda Yeti still offers a better range of engines and more fun, while the Qashqai beats it for practicality. The Mokka’s Astra-borrowed dash – particularly considering the Adam’s interesting interior – lacks imagination, and its engines are too noisy. Vauxhall’s soon-to-arrive new family of diesels should help to rectify the latter issue.

That said, our UK test gave us a first shot the Mokka’s entry-level 1.6 petrol, making 113bhp and available solely in front-wheel drive flavour. It’s better than you might expect, seemingly the quietest of the engines and capable of moving the Mokka about as fast as you want to go.

This might be the best way to sample the Mokka, especially with prices starting at a passable £15,995. The Mokka isn’t a great SUV, but Vauxhall’s revisions make it a good one at least, a five-out-of-ten car. And, yes, don’t worry: all UK customer Mokkas will be of the upgraded variety. TopGear in ‘force for good’ shocker…

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