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Driven: Vauxhall Mokka 1.6 CDTi. Image by Vauxhall.

Driven: Vauxhall Mokka 1.6 CDTi
Is 'Whisper' diesel in Vauxhall's Mokka enough to make it class leader?

   



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Vauxhall Mokka 1.6 CDTi

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5

Good points: neat styling, spacious interior, improved new diesel engine, competitive running costs

Not so good: ride not the comfiest, drab cabin design, costly, tough competition

Key Facts

Model tested: Vauxhall Mokka Limited Edition 1.6 CDTi
Price: Mokka range from 16,474; Mokka Limited Edition 1.6 CDTi from 21,639, car as tested 22,694
Engine: 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel
Transmission: front-wheel drive, six-speed manual
Body style: five-door crossover
CO2 emissions: 114g/km (Band C, 0 VED first year, 30 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 65.7mpg
Top speed: 119mph
0-62mph: 9.3 seconds
Power: 136hp at 3,500- 4,000rpm
Torque: 320Nm from 2,000- to 2,250rpm

Our view:

Vauxhall's Mokka, despite lukewarm critical response, has proved itself a hit. Take a drive along your local roads, or up and down the length of a big motorway like the M1 if you prefer, and if you pay attention you'll notice there are plenty of Mokkas ambling about. UK sales figures put out by the SMMT in the summer had the Mokka at number five in Scotland on units shifted year-to-date, and number seven in both Wales and Northern Ireland. It's just outside the top ten in England for 2015 so far, although 4,010 of them were sold in July alone, putting it at number ten on the monthly chart.

Hovering just above it in all the lists (save for Scotland) was the Nissan Qashqai. But apart from that, Vauxhall's crossover is outselling the rest of the crossover offerings, including such excellent vehicles as the Nissan Juke, Hyundai ix35 and Skoda Yeti. Strange, because the Vauxhall has never won glowing praise. It's spacious within, featuring a362-litre boot with all the seats in place, and it's reasonably attractive on the outside. But lacklustre engines at launch let the Mokka down, while the chassis is a rather benign and dull affair.

However, the introduction of the 1.6-litre CDTi 'Whisper' diesel engine (yes, we agree, it's a silly name) promises to spruce the Mokka up a touch. Diesels are the preferred form of motive power for buyers of crossovers/SUVs of any size or price and the old 1.7-litre, 130hp CDTi unit was a duffer; loud, coarse and generally behind the times.

The addition of the Whisper diesel under the bonnet doesn't come with any external or internal visual clues, so the Mokka should be wholly familiar to you by now. So you'll already either like it or not, and the new CDTi engine on its own won't be changing your mind from the kerb. For our money, it's a handsome enough thing, our test car being a range-topping Limited Edition model with attractive 19-inch alloys. Sadly, those wheels don't do the Mokka's ride any favours and nor does the LE trim come cheap - with this 136hp/320Nm engine on board, you'll be spending at least 21,639 and this Mokka's ticket was bumped up even further by the 1,055 addition of Navi 950 IntelliLink satnav/infotainment. Oddly enough, the supposedly 'basic' specification of Tech Line, the cheapest trim of four available for the Mokka, comes with Navi 950 as standard, so you could get into a Mokka 1.6 CDTi 136hp (there's a less powerful 110hp variant as well) for a slightly more reasonable 18,754.

But should you do such a thing? Hmm, it's a tricky one. There's no doubting the new diesel has vastly improved the Mokka's refinement. Although it can still sound a bit loud when cold or being extended (and that in itself is weird, given that the same engine in the old-shape Astra was quieter than this, albeit that was a 110hp version we tested) the rest of the time it's a peach. It also returned 54.1mpg across 446 miles, without ever really going near a motorway for prolonged periods of time, so it should save you money at the pumps as well in terms of VED.

The thing is, all the existing Mokka compromises remain. The interior, while perfectly capacious and comfortable, isn't very exciting, as Vauxhall has a thing about black. Lots and lots of black. There are some silver splashes of trim to lift things but that button-busy centre console is old-fashioned in today's touchscreen world and on that score the infotainment controls aren't hugely intuitive. There's also a dated orange digital display in the instrument cluster and we know fine well that Vauxhall can do decent TFT screens from the Insignia, so we'd be much happier to see a more advanced system in the Mokka.

Aside from the slightly bumpy ride on the 19s, the Mokka remains a safe but rather uninteresting thing to drive. True, a lot of rivals in this class have the same characteristics, especially the Qashqai, but the Vauxhall never seems quite as refined as the rest. It's just a little bit louder when cruising, a little bit less composed when cornering hard, a little bit underwhelming. A jazzier interior would help its appeal but the Mokka's unlikely to get that until an all-new model arrives, which isn't due to happen until at least 2018.

We liked the Mokka Whisper, which sounds vaguely like an odd type of coffee, but we didn't love it. And there are better options available from rival manufacturers that we'd recommend first and foremost. Seems, though, that car buyers don't care, because aside from the Qashqai the Mokka is the preferred crossover choice of Great Britain. And for Vauxhall, that can only be very good news indeed.

Alternatives:

Ford EcoSport: for once, a Vauxhall product that clearly outshines the Ford equivalent. The EcoSport is a bizarre, cheap-looking vehicle that doesn't fit in at all with the rest of Ford's line-up.

Nissan Qashqai: one of the class leaders and the way to do a stylish small crossover. More interesting cabin on the Nissan teams up with refined driving manners to eclipse the Mokka.

Skoda Yeti: another classy crossover, doing things a little differently by looking more like Postman Pat's van than an SUV. However, superb engines and intelligent interior make this hard to resist.


Matt Robinson - 28 Sep 2015



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2015 Vauxhall Mokka. Image by Vauxhall.2015 Vauxhall Mokka. Image by Vauxhall.2015 Vauxhall Mokka. Image by Vauxhall.2015 Vauxhall Mokka. Image by Vauxhall.2015 Vauxhall Mokka. Image by Vauxhall.

2015 Vauxhall Mokka. Image by Vauxhall.2015 Vauxhall Mokka. Image by Vauxhall.2015 Vauxhall Mokka. Image by Vauxhall.2015 Vauxhall Mokka. Image by Vauxhall.2015 Vauxhall Mokka. Image by Vauxhall.



2015 Vauxhall Mokka. Image by Vauxhall.
 

2015 Vauxhall Mokka. Image by Vauxhall.
 

2015 Vauxhall Mokka. Image by Vauxhall.
 

2015 Vauxhall Mokka. Image by Vauxhall.
 

2015 Vauxhall Mokka. Image by Vauxhall.
 

2015 Vauxhall Mokka. Image by Vauxhall.
 

2015 Vauxhall Mokka. Image by Vauxhall.
 

2015 Vauxhall Mokka. Image by Vauxhall.
 

2015 Vauxhall Mokka. Image by Vauxhall.
 






 

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