Motoring review: Vauxhall Mokka

The Vauxhall Mokka. Picture: Complimentary
The Vauxhall Mokka. Picture: Complimentary
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Vauxhall’s jaunty-looking small SUV looks the part but delivers a horribly rough ride.

There is also a Chevrolet Trax from the same factory with different looks but the same mechanical underpinnings. Drive can be to the front wheels or to all four wheels.

Readers with good memories may recall I reported on the Mokka in October last year, when I’d driven it on some flat and well surfaced motorways near Hamburg. The ride and suspension would be common to bother the Opel and Vauxhall – after assessment in both Germany and the UK. My proviso was, obviously, that I had no idea how the Mokka would handle our poorly surfaced roads. I have driven a Vauxhall Mokka at home and now I know.

However, let’s keep that until later. Mokka rubs up against sitting tenants like the Skoda Yeti and Nissan Qashqai. Prices start at £15,995 for a 1.6 petrol model called the Tech Line, better equipped than some more expensive Mokkas. The explanation now as it was last October is that it is aimed at business users. I was confused then and I still am.

Anyway, before I get to the ride quality, here’s a Mokka mission statement: “With a striking appearance, safe and spacious, the Mokka will ­appeal to a wide range of ­customers. Research has shown that the typical Mokka customer leads a very active lifestyle where leisure activities play a central role in his or her life. That is why the Mokka with its many optional extras, like the FlexFix bicycle carrier, is perfect for people who want to balance their busy daily lives with leisure activities.”

Just over half of all Mokka customers are expected to opt for the front-wheel drive variant, while the most popular engine will be the 1.7CDTi, accounting for 42 per cent of sales. The 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine and 1.6-litre will account for 20 per cent and 38 per cent of sales respectively.

A Mokka is the same length as a Vauxhall Meriva. No idea? It’s a bit shorter than a Ford Focus, at 4.3 metres or 168 inches. It is taller than a Focus, with some six inches of ground clearance for those off road moments. Its personality is chunky, with the fashionable scalloped panels, big show-off lights, upswung rear door line, fixed quarter lights front and rear, big door mirrors, skid plates, rubber side protectors, big chromed upper lip on the grille. Hard to miss? Yes, akin to the much smaller Nissan Juke.

The cheapest with 4x4 transmission is a 1.4 Turbo Tech Line model at £18,200. My test car was the price entry model, the front wheel drive 1.6 Tech Line at £15,995. If I wanted a Mokka (read on) this would be a good choice. The 113.4 bhp, five-speed petrol engine is amazingly flexible, belying its 0-62mph time of 12.3 seconds. Its official figures are 43.5 mpg and 153g/km CO2. My running score was 40mpg – good enough to avoid the various price premiums for a diesel engine unless I was doing massive annual mileages. Standard specification including satellite navigation system, DAB radio, Bluetooth, USB connectivity and cruise control. It was running on 18 inch alloys with 215/55 Continental tyres.

After criticism from early road tests in October (slow steering, crashing suspension, a floaty ride) Vauxhall did a revision. The result is decent steering, not too much roll in curves and one of the noisiest and ill-sprung cars I have driven. On smooth roads there is excessive tyre roar. On normal roads the Mokka crashes and thumps in a hateful manner.

Verdict: Bright looks, good higher driving position but that’s not enough to outweigh the battering from the wheels. Pass me a Yeti.