IAIN ROBERTSON 

Vauxhall Mokka

Vauxhall Mokka

Stymied by ‘lockdown’, the latest Corsa has enjoyed zero market wiggle-room before PSA Group’s insistent and unrelenting product planners weigh-in with the forthcoming crossover variant, about which Iain Robertson feels enough is enough.

The concept of sipping a shop-bought alternative coffee is something that even the best culinarily equipped domestic kitchen cannot replicate. From my state of ‘house arrest’, I crave a McDonald’s Latte. I might even contemplate misspelt nomenclature (a sad inevitability of having two ‘i’s in my Christian name) on a Starbucks’ refillable mug of Caramel Macchiato, despite that firm’s negative attitude towards paying British taxes. Yet, driving a car that sounds like a piping hot beverage (Mocha) is simply not on my timeline.

The precept of taking the Mickey falls frequently within the wordsmith’s armoury, even though performing the sin of sarcasm should seldom be replicated. From my state of ‘self-isolation’, I crave human contact. After all, when the whim takes you, there can be nothing as satisfying as a face-to-face verbal outburst, hoping that a final curled lip might remove the potential sting of biting wit. Falling short of a scripted ‘Chandler Bing’, driving a car that sounds like it is pulling one’s leg (Mocker) is certainly not within my gift.

Vauxhall Mokka

Vauxhall Mokka

The automotive practice of preceding, or following in short order, a new mainstream model range, with a pseudo-SUV, more likely a soft-roading crossover, is a darned good reason for considering either of the above paragraphs very judiciously. Our new car scene is over-populated with high-heeled, TOWIE-influenced wannabes and, no, one more will make a major difference, especially as the outgoing Mokka left a particularly bad taste in most motorists’ lives, leaving Vauxhall open to a badge-engineered dose of major mockery.

As a mockery of itself, the original Mokka model of 2012 was produced primarily at the former Daewoo plant at Bupyeong, South Korea. In short, GM, which was in one too many people’s lives at that time, had hovered on the sidelines of the Daewoo disaster area, snaffling-up the remnants, after its disobedient boss had done a runner with much of its operating profits. It was a typical and largely disrespectful GM manoeuvre and it was reflected in the product, which was mockingly disrespectful of its customers, all of whom had hoped for something better. Mokka missed the mark.

Unsurprisingly, it sold in decent numbers in China, Russia and Belarus. However complex has been the behind the scenes wrangling of the Sino-funded ‘deal’ that enabled a nearly-broke PSA to acquire Vauxhall-Opel, GM’s long-standing but ultimately discarded Euro-brands, at least the Chinese, whose automotive tastes do appear to be lacking in some aspects of style, let alone safety, can still have their daily dose of Coffea Arabica.

Vauxhall Mokka

Vauxhall Mokka

Improving the factory offering in 2016, with a post-script ‘X’ could have been termed a significant kiss-off. Intriguingly, German Opel tuning firm, the aptly named Bitter, has also produced a trim-enhanced version of Mokka since then, which the housewives of Rheinland-Pfalz have treated with as much disdain as ‘auslaender’, for which I shall not blame them. With almost as many hurriedly disposed-of Mokkas on dealer forecourts, as pre-registered Range Rover Evoques (which I accept are from a class above), a fair presumption is that Mokka did not meet consumer expectations, regardless of how saccharine attractive the original deals may have been.

PSA’s delivery of its product plans has been placed on extremely shaky ground created by (ironically) the Chinese pandemic. While its range of available world platforms means that new Mokka shares underpinnings with new Corsa (Common Modular Platform) and a wealth of other notional Gallic products emerging from its immense Zaragoza plant, in Spain, even though the Corsa promise is a decent one, it can only be hoped that a stacked-up Mokka can perform similarly.

Despite the camouflage, the outline of the new model is going to look like a Tonka Toy version of its smaller stablemate and, dimensionally at least, it means that some familiarity with what has gone before is sure to be revealed. You can rest assured that innovation is not a component. Thus, following (probably) 2008 form, the new Mokka should deliver for PSA. Mind you, without much capital settling the Chinese debts for the past few weeks, PSA is going to be in a blind rush to get its newcomer to market, before the dust has had any chance of settling on its baby brother Corsa.

Vauxhall Mokka

Vauxhall Mokka

Needless to say, the ‘camo’ is needed to maintain model security, to stop rivals from getting a look-in. Yet, as most of the ‘spies’ come from China and Mokka is intended to sell there too, as usual, they probably know more about it than we do. However, ‘camo’ adds a distinctive flair for vehicles on the ‘test circuit’, which is what the final production vehicles are undertaking at present. The benefits of testing at venues like Arjeplog, within the Arctic Circle, ensure that sub-zero conditions can exercise the already much-tested PSA componentry on the newer and 120kgs lighter Mokka. This significant weight loss is geared towards enhancing the crossover’s ecological and economical stances but it should help with its dynamic balance too.

Extensive testing sets up the new Mokka for optimised acoustic comfort in its cabin, while providing industry-standard driving safety at high speeds, on multi-surfaces, and the steering and pedal feel expected of a Vauxhall, an art at which the marque was making major inroads prior to the PSA takeover. You can take it for granted that motive choice will of pure battery-electric drive, as well as internal combustion engines. Continuous track work at Opel’s Rodgau-Dudenhofen Test Centre refines the product, improves suspension and removes the rattles. New Mokkas will commence rolling off the assembly lines by the end of this year, in readiness for an early-2021 product launch.

Conclusion:       While hoping that my early overview does not put the mockers on the new Mokka, it should be interesting to see how PSA Group manages another compact-crossover in its burgeoning range, when rationalisation is sure to be high on its future list of priorities.

Vauxhall Mokka

Vauxhall Mokka