What is it?
Vauxhall’s first foray into the mini-SUV market, one currently dominated by the Skoda Yeti and Nissan’s Juke and Qashqai. The Mokka falls somewhere between the latter two in terms of size, and serves up a high-riding driving position and styling optimistically described as ‘chunky’.
Like the Qashqai, it’s available in two- and four-wheel drive, the latter offering enough off-road performance to conquer a muddy field or two, which we suspect will be about the extent of the Mokka’s non-tarmac follies. There’s an entry-level 1.6-litre petrol, a fizzier 1.4-litre turbo petrol and a single diesel offering: Vauxhall’s familiar 1.7-litre CDTi developing 130bhp.
Pack earmuffs. By modern standards the Mokka is freakishly noisy on the move, suffering from wind noise, road noise and grumbly engines. The 1.4 petrol is a sight quieter – and livelier – than the diesel, but still hardly whisper-hushed. Maybe we just had a couple of bad ‘uns, but we’d advise taking the Mokka out for a proper motorway blast to see if you can actually hear anything at 70mph before committing to purchase.
Even if your ears can handle the assault, the Mokka still doesn’t provide much fun in the handling department, riding clunkily even on modestly sized wheels and failing to deliver the honest, drive-it-on-the-doorhandles charm of the Yeti. All this comes with a proviso: Vauxhall says it’s rushed through upgrades for UK cars that cure these gripes. We shall see.
On the inside
This is the Mokka’s only real trump card. Despite splitting Juke and Qashqai for size, interior space is far closer to the latter, with decent headroom and legroom in the back for even full-sized humans. That’s good news for buyers, as they expect extra practicality from cars of this type, but the sector doesn’t always deliver it (witness the boot in the Nissan Juke, for example).
The interior will be familiar to anyone who’s driven an Astra recently: solid and functional, but - beyond a couple of swoopy bits of dash - hardly ambitious for a car marketing itself as funky lifestyle thing. Surely that’s a missed opportunity, Vauxhall? There is a decent array of big-car optional extras, at least.
It’s not as cheap as it should be. Prices start at £15,995 for the mealy-mouthed 1.6-litre petrol, rising to over £18,000 for even the basest 1.4 turbo. At least the engines are passably economical: a real-world 50mpg-plus is easily achievable from the 1.7 CDTi diesel, which emits a healthy 120g/km of CO2 in eco-guise, and the 1.4T petrol can officially average nearly 45mpg – that’s better than the yawning 1.6. Just avoid base Tech Line trim. Exclusiv is the one to go for, as it comes with the must-haves missing on the cheaper car. But must you, when a Skoda Yeti does so much more?