Gareth Butterfield finds out if the Vauxhall Mokka still has the X-Factor
THIS is the Vauxhall Mokka X, the latest small crossover from Vauxhall. But I’d imagine you didn’t need me to tell you what it was, because, frankly, you’ve probably seen it before dozens of times on the road.
And that’s because it’s one of the best-selling small crossovers on the market right now. And it makes the new version, which now sports and “X” suffix as all Vauxhall’s forthcoming crossovers will, quite an important car.
The simple truth is, the Mokka has always done plenty of things really rather well. It epitomises Vauxhall’s usual trick of bundling in a raft of features, attributes and equipment that a car of its type should have without a large asking price, but with a decent warranty and a bustling dealer network to back it all up.
So, surely, an improved version of the same winning formula should be assured success? I’d put money on it.
That said, there are shortcomings when you compare it to a few of its many rivals.
Its price, particularly in the range-topping versions, seems to be quietly creeping up and the engine range – despite now having a new 1.4 turbo petrol engine – is a little short on choice.
In fact, the 152PS flagship petrol lump can only be had with an automatic gearbox and 4×4 and, to be honest, most of us don’t need four-wheel-drive. It’ll mostly just hamper fuel economy. It has to be said, also, that the Mokka X doesn’t have the ride height you’d expect. I found it fairly easy to catch the front lip on my steep driveway and very few cars do that, even small hatchbacks.
It’s also fairly noisy at high speed and the boot’s a bit smaller than some cars at this price-point but, in most other areas, the Mokka will score highly.
Changes made to the latest version include a prettier front end, the introduction of Vauxhall’s OnStar system which basically gives you a telephone concierge service and high-speed Wi-Fi and a much better infotainment system.
It’s still got bags of room in the front and back and I’m thrilled to see the three-pin plug has been maintained in the rear of my test model. Every car should have one of these, especially if it’s family orientated.
Its ride is supple rather than entertaining but that’s fine in this sector and the newly-designed dash is an improvement on what was already a nicely designed set-up. That brighter, better infotainment screen – available in 7in or 8in sizes – is the icing on the cake.
Engines-wise there’s a smooth and quiet 1.6 diesel in two different strengths, and a 140PS 1.4 turbo petrol alongside the new, afore-mentioned more powerful version of the same unit.
Even the 140PS version offers brisk performance but pick the diesels if you want fuel economy.
Visibility could be better, thanks to that eye-catching bodywork the C Pillar is a little large and the back window is a tad too small, but safety has been high on Vauxhall’s agenda, which is important in a car that will be snapped up by young families.
There’s plenty of equipment, too, with Exclusiv models getting dual-zone climate control, LED headlights, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror and a tyre-pressure monitoring system.
All models come with a digital radio, Bluetooth, steering wheel audio controls and at least a CD 450 six-speaker sound system as standard. Even the base stereo is compatible with MP3 files.
So the Corsa-based compact crossover looks good, has plenty of space, is competitively priced and is good to drive. Yes, there are cars that offer more in some respects, but there are plenty of loyal Mokka buyers who will no doubt be eyeing this new version up as an upgrade.
And, it’s fair to say, they won’t be disappointed.