Vauxhall Mokka hatchback (2012 – ) expert review

By Craig Thomas, 5th December 2012

The verdict

The Vauxhall Mokka is right on-trend as a new entrant to the emerging mini-SUV segment, but it’s not as good to drive as some rivals and its looks will divide potential buyers

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Expert rating:

3.0

Pros

  • Good interior space
  • Well specced
  • Practical

Cons

  • Firm ride
  • Uninvolving to drive
  • Noisy and unrefined

Full Review

1. Exterior

The Vauxhall Mokka certainly looks the part, with its chunky, compact body, rugged styling, raised ground clearance and rising beltline – a combination that is aimed at ‘extreme sports’ aficionados. It’s not entirely successful: there are a few too many lines and its stoutness is a matter of taste.

Our rating: 3

2. Interior

Inside the Mokka, the available space in the cabin is well utilised. There’s plenty of room for adult rear-seat passengers, thanks to relatively generous amounts of head- and legroom for what is, in essence, a car with supermini proportions. The materials on the interior surfaces and seats feel to be of a high quality, but the dashboard has a few too many switches and buttons.

Our rating: 3

3. Practicality

Along with interior space, the 356-litre boot (1,372 litres when the rear seats are folded flat) – which makes it comparable with its rivals in terms of size and its shape – means that the Mokka is a practical and usable car.

Our rating: 3

4. Ride and handling

The Vauxhall Mokka’s on-road manners, are acceptable, but little more. The suspension is set up to be quite taut, in order to counter the natural inclination of a high-sided car to roll around when cornering. It achieves this aim, but the unfortunate side effect is that it makes the ride overly firm, so you can feel all the bumps and ruts in the road, and the car often seems unsettled.The handling isn’t great, either, the steering feeling a little inert and unresponsive, and the car doesn’t feel very agile, so changing direction in a Mokka isn’t as involving as some of its major rivals. There’s also a lot of noise intruding into the cabin and even if you don’t opt for the unrefined diesel, the sound of the wind hitting the large wing mirrors is fairly substantial.

Our rating: 2

5. Performance

There is a choice of three engines, a diesel and two petrol units. The diesel – which is expected to be the biggest seller (around 42%, Vauxhall thinks) – is a 1.7-litre CDTi that produces 128bhp and enables a 10-second 0-60mph (the four-wheel-drive variant adds 0.4 seconds to the 0-60mph time). Performance is unremarkable and the engine feels unrefined compared to many others on the market, sounding gruff when accelerating – which is disappointing from a major manufacturer launching a brand-new model. The engine is also mated to a six-speed manual gearbox or six-speed auto (which makes it slower and less efficient). The two petrol engines are 1.4 Turbo and 1.6 powerplants. We’ve only driven the former, which came with four-wheel drive and, while its 138bhp makes it a bit quicker than the diesel (0-60mph is achieved in 9.4 seconds), it feels like it flattens out, speed-wise, soon after that, even if you try to manipulate the gears to add some extra acceleration. On paper, the 1.6 doesn’t seem much better, managing 0-60mph in what sounds like a sluggish 11.9 seconds.

Our rating: 2

6. Running costs

The 1.7-litre CDTi returns 62.8mpg and emits a respectable 120g/km of CO2 (the four-wheel-drive variant reduces fuel economy to 57.6mpg and raises emissions to 129g/km). The 1.4 Turbo has an official fuel economy of 44.1mpg and CO2 emissions of 149g/km don’t break any new ground or move on the segment, either. The 1.6 doesn’t seem much better, consuming fuel at a rate of 43.5mpg (in official tests – it’s going to be a lot less in the real world) and emitting 153g/km of CO2. Insurance costs shouldn’t be to excessive, with lower-trim models starting at Group 5 and range-toppers falling into Group 14.

Our rating: 3

7. Reliability

It’s too early to make any real judgements on reliability, but Vauxhall models tend not to be too bad. Other Vauxhalls fare pretty well in reliability surveys, but the Mokka is built on a relatively new platform that is largely untested in the UK.

Our rating: 3

8. Safety

The Mokka is fitted with the usual array of acronymic safety features, including ABS anti-lock braking complete with CBC (cornering brake control), EBA (electronic brake assist) and EBD (Electronic Brakeforce Distribution). The Electronic Stability Program (ESP) that is standard in the Mokka includes traction control and additionally Hill Start Assist (HSA) and Hill Descent Control (HDC). Passive safety includes airbags for the driver and front passenger, plus side-impact and full-size curtain ‘bags.

Our rating: 4

9. Equipment

All Mokka trim levels are well-equipped, with the base S trim coming with digital radio, CD/Aux in socket, steering wheel-mounted controls, cruise control, air con, electric/heated mirrors, daytime running lights and remote control with central locking. Exclusiv adds the likes of USB connection with iPod control, Bluetooth, automatic lights and wipers, front and rear parking sensors and 18-inch alloys. Customers splashing out on SE trim will also receive heated sports seats, bi-xenon headlights, heated steering wheel, adaptive forward lighting, tinted rear windows and a sunglasses holder, among other features.

Our rating: 4

10. Why buy?

The Mokka is a creditable attempt by a large manufacturer to get in relatively early with a new car trend, but ultimately it’s not as entertaining as rivals such as the Skoda Yeti or Mini Countryman to drive. It’s not exactly cheap, either, and the engine range doesn’t particularly make buying a Mokka an exercise in downsizing that will result in significant cost-cutting for consumers.

Our rating: 3

Expert review 3.0stars

  • Exterior3
  • Interior3
  • Practicality3
  • Ride and handling2
  • Performance2
  • Running costs3
  • Reliability3
  • Safety4
  • Equipment4
  • Why buy?3

Our recommendations

Best on a budget

S 1.6 16v Start/Stop

The base model, but still has a lot of kit

Best-seller

Exclusiv 1.7 CDTi ecoFLEX

The best balance of purchase price and running costs

Blow the budget

All the kit you’d want and low running costs

The Mokka is a creditable attempt by a large manufacturer to get in relatively early with a new car trend, but ultimately it’s not as entertaining as rivals