New Vauxhall Mokka shows EV intent to maximum effect
While brinkmanship has been a fascinating tenet of PSA Group’s recent management activities, Iain Robertson suggests that nobody should be gulled into a belief that the Chinese-funded Gallic firm possesses high levels of tolerance, notably towards Vauxhall-Opel.
From an industry crammed with ironies, prior to US-based General Motors tiring of its British Vauxhall and German Opel subsidiaries and disposing of them to PSA, it was a car giant that had innovated in the alternative propulsion scene. Its industry leading developments in battery-electric power, while largely the preserve of its domestic market, could have been but never were lent to its subsidiaries. As a result, for the UK market, conventional Vauxhall was perceived as being sorely out of step with the rest of the motorcar business, scarcely dipping even its smallest toe into electrified waters.
Of course, prior to the big sell-off, it was stated that Vauxhall was in a parlous profitability position. It had not turned a pre-tax profit in years, which does lead to questions about how much money GM was grabbing from its charge, before it attempted to balance its books. You can rest assured that GM would not be the poor partner, regardless of how badly it manages its own US brands. Yet, PSA had hardly been a shining light in making money…remember, it was going kaput, prior to Bernard Peugeot’s plea to the Dongfeng Corp (its Chinese manufacturing partner) for financial assistance.
The response has been both rapid and, on the face of it at least, positive, as many jobs prior to the pandemic were being saved at both Luton and on the Wirral (Ellesmere Port). What might occur in coming months, or if a ‘second wave’ of the viral impact occurs, remains to be witnessed. However, PSA’s electrification campaign has been charging ahead; first with the fully-electric Corsa-e model and now with the junior league SUV Mokka-e.
Vauxhall’s talented design team, led by Mark Adams, was gifted the Common Modular Platform (CMP) that PSA has developed for its smaller model offerings. If you are seeking a direct correlation for Mokka with PSA, then it lies in its latest 2008/3008 models. Yet, Adams has managed to provide an entirely relatable design stance for the new Mokka, which is fronted by the Vauxhall Vizor lamp display, containing 14-element, Intellilux, non-glare LED headlamps and the equally innovative Pure Panel dashboard development. Thanks to a siamesed pair of electronic ‘flat-screen’ displays that are not unlike the more complex versions employed by Mercedes-Benz in its cars but are significantly easier and more logical to use, Vauxhall is able to devise the hardware as a precursor for its future model developments. In fact, you can look forward to seeing both the new frontal aspect and dashboard on forthcoming new Vauxhalls.
Beneath the Mokka lies its electric drivetrain, laid out carefully to ensure a lower centre of gravity by spreading the components more evenly between the front and rear axle-lines. It is worth noting that both frontal and rear body overhangs are minimised as much as possible, which also has a containing effect. Boasting only a single, electric drive motor and 50kWh battery pack rated at 136bhp and a healthy 191lbs ft of instant torque, the Mokka’s acceleration is competitively brisk, even though its top whack is restricted to a mere 93mph. Mind you, as this has a beneficial impact on its potential range (c. 200 miles), it is a fair trade-off.
The driver has a choice of three selectable modes, Normal, Eco and Sport, while its recharging capability means that, using a 100kW DC plug-in post, up to 80% charge can be provided within 30 minutes. Naturally, it can be slow-charged domestically, slightly speedier and more economically using a dedicated wallbox, and all necessary cabling is provided. The battery is covered by an eight years warranty.
Over the past few years, Vauxhall has been making ground on its vehicle weight reduction programme and has even managed to shave a moderate 120kgs over the previous version of the Mokka. However, its structural integrity has increased by a remarkable 30%, as an indicator of the firm’s efficiency drive. As has already been proven with the new Corsa-e, where a lot of its EV rivals can be accused of lacking some ‘fun’ on the dynamics front, if anything, the new Mokka whips up the enthusiasm levels to fresh peaks. The handling envelope is more engaging than ever, which makes the transition from fossil to electric power more palatable for converts.
Cabin space has been optimised within its 4.15m body length that is much shorter than before. Yet, the boot area offers 350-litres of covered load space, which can be almost trebled, when the rear seats are folded forwards and the full cavity is drawn into use.
As the new Pure Panel promises a more logical instrument display, demanding less interaction with the driver but providing all necessary information clearly and concisely, it is worth noting that Vauxhall still offers some manual switch controls but that a full complement of ADAS safety and driver aids are integrated tidily into the package. The Mokka’s centre console is all-new and clear of distractions, with a tiny ‘gearstick’ and electronic parking-brake ensuring that its design remains clear of obstructions. Upholstery options include full Alcantara (suedette), or leather, on both seats and door cards, with a massage option for the driver on top versions. A mobile phone charging pad is located within the centre console.
Although I am not an ardent EV fan, I can comprehend the Mokka’s stance completely. The car looks great, it performs well and it offers a moderate range, all vital statistics that help to bridge a gap for customers between ‘old-skool’ engineering and future EVs.
Conclusion: Vauxhall may have been late to the electrification party but it is certainly celebrating with its EV newcomers. Pricing, which is yet to be announced, although the new models will be available in coming weeks, is anticipated to be in the order of £29,900. It is not cheap but deals can be done.