The Mokka has sold very well for Vauxhall and, since its launch in late 2012 a little over 600,000 units of the Korean-built compact crossover have found homes across Europe – around 20% of which were here in the UK. But only four years on, the new Mokka X faces a plethora of stronger rivals than ever before.
Making its debut at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show earlier this year, Vauxhall’s new Mokka X is the first model to introduce the ‘X’ segment identifier for future Vauxhall SUV and crossover vehicles. As before, it’s versatile, capable and practical, plus now, it’s slightly better looking and comes with upgraded connectivity, a nicer cabin and more efficient and quieter engines.
At only 4.28 metres in length, the compact proportion of the new Mokka X means it’s larger than a Nissan Juke but smaller than the Qashqai. For this improved Mokka X model range, British designer Mark Adams and his team aimed for a stronger, bold look. This translated into a wing-shaped horizontal front grille and the dominant, sharp double-wing signature of the LED daytime running lights.
At the rear is another double wing signature highlighted in the tail lamps, with LED technology an option.
On the inside, the Mokka X has a completely new dashboard inspired by the latest Astra with far less buttons. Fortunately, the heating, ventilation and aircon controls have been kept away from the interactive touch screen and stand intuitively alone mid-dash. Otherwise, with there being no changes to the body structure, it’s pretty much as it was.
Four tall adults can be carried in reasonable comfort. The rear window design remains poor, with the usual negative effect on visibility. In the back, the rear seats benefit from wide opening doors that simplify the fitment of a child seat, though that sharply rising waist line is likely to restrict the view out for smaller occupants.
As for luggage, there’s no high boot lip to negotiate and beyond it is a useful 356-litres of carriage space – about the same as you’d get in a MINI Countryman but 30% more than you’d get in a Nissan Juke. Rear seat uprights are split 60/40 and fold flat for greater practicality.
Vauxhall are to be commended for retaining the intuitive manual heating, aircon and ventilation controls, resisting the current trend to incorporate them into the touch screen user interface, which is distracting and as highly dangerous on the move as texting.
Tech and Safety
On the technology front, the Mokka X introduces adaptive forward lighting LED headlamps which adapt automatically to common driving situations. The latest IntelliLink information-entertainment system is standard, which can be paired with either the 7- or 8-inch touchscreen display.
The upgraded infotainment system will also feature Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, as well as Vauxhall’s unique OnStar security, guidance, emergency and protection services.
Advanced safety features include forward collision alert, following distance indication, traffic sign assistant, lane alert and lane departure warning.
Trims & Prices
To simplify matters, there are just three trims in the new Mokka X line-up – Active (£19,705-£23,615), Design Nav (£17,640-£21,615) and Elite/Elite Nav (£22,205-£26,815).
The generously equipped entry level Active model offers as standard: 17- or 18-inch alloys, front fog lamps, leather-covered steering wheel with audio controls, Vauxhall’s 7-inch touchscreen IntelliLink system with smartphone projection, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, climate control, cruise control/speed limiter, trip computer, auto lights and wipers, high beam assist plus electrical and folding door mirrors.
On the safety front, also standard is Vauxhall’s unique OnStar system, switchable ESP, ABS with traction control, hill start assist, a tyre pressure monitoring system, six airbags including full-length curtain bags, front and rear parking sensors and LED daytime running lights.
Mid-range Design Nav adds only Vauxhall’s Navi900 satellite navigation system.
Top-spec Elite/Elite Nav models of the new Mokka X adds privacy glass, leather seat facings, heated sports front seats and heated steering wheel.
Regardless of trim level, Mokka X all-wheel-drive models get Vauxhall’s ‘Intelligent 4×4 Drive’ and hill descent control.
Price-wise, it remains a very attractive proposition with unusually generous kit lists – particularly in Active trim. Restraint is recommended when rummaging through the options brochure as it could quickly become a very expensive car.
Engines & Transmissions
The good news for Mokka X buyers is under the bonnet with the adoption of a new efficient and very economical 1.6-litre CDTi turbo diesel from GM’s global ‘Whisper Diesel’ range, which is available in two states of tune – 108bhp (2WD, manual) and 134bhp 2/4WD, manual or auto).
Two transmissions are available – a six-speed manual or six-speed conventional automatic.
On the petrol front, there’s a naturally-aspirated 1.6-litre unit delivering 113bhp and an all-new 1.4-litre direct injection turbo offered in two states of tune – 138bhp and 150bhp. Both may be paired to FWD or AWD, manual or automatic transmissions.
The preferred choice of many is likely to be the lesser-powered 138bhp 1.4-litre turbo petrol paired with the six-speed manual ‘box. The new petrol engine is a little gem and appears up to the job. How it performs with four up and corresponding luggage remains to be seen.
Vauxhall’s ‘Intelligent 4×4 Drive’ is an intuitive system, sending drive to the front wheels in dry conditions, but when the going is detected as wet and greasy, or loose and gravelly, drive to the rear axle is immediately deployed. The system will divide drive 50% to both the front and rear axle which will tend to maintain stability in tricky conditions.
On the Road
On-road behaviour is reasonable enough. The automatic gearbox is pleasant enough and the manual operates smoothly although the throw is a little long. The steering is precise and firm without being too heavy.
The ride quality is variable according to road conditions but it could do with more attention to the damping at higher speeds; on bumpy tarmac the car is unpleasantly bouncy – almost blancmange-like. Apart from that, it’s up to the job, managing to mask the car’s high centre of gravity to a reasonable extent.
Nevertheless, country roads, no matter how smooth, are not its favourite environment and there’s still too much body roll through the twisty bits carried over from the old model. To experience the Mokka X at its best you’ll need to drive it on dual-carriageways or in town, which is where most owners will use the car most of the time, anyway.
The majority of Mokka X buyers are likely to be enthusiasts for living life itself rather than car enthusiasts. They will care little that this car isn’t quite as sharp and wieldy as the Nissan Juke, or that it falls well short of Kia’s class-leading Sportage.
It remains a decent car in most areas but – with its standard kit a possible exception, exemplary in none. The quality of the ride and corresponding handling will find few main-stream competitors trembling in their wellies.
Still, because – or in spite of – its averageness, it will continue to sell in thousands.
Early models are rolling off the production line at its factory in Zaragoza, Spain and the 2017 Mokka X is now in UK show rooms and available to order.