Vauxhall Mokka Review
As you approach, the first thing you’ll surely ask yourself about the car is: “Is that really the new Mokka?!”
Yes, it looks that different. The old Mokka was popular and had a lot of charm, but it wasn't actually all that good. Despite its mid-life facelift, the looks didn't age well, and the interior felt cheap and cluttered with buttons.
Select's rating score* - 3.8 / 5
But the new one improves on the old one in just about every conceivable way.
It bears little resemblance to the outgoing model, with the relatively tame, semi-cutesy bubble-like body, replaced by straighter lines and narrower headlights, resulting in far more aggressive styling.
Goodbye, curvy ball-on-wheels. Hello, chiselled aesthetic effervescence.
Head-on, the front looks like it’s taken inspiration from an American muscle car, and we're very impressed. Its concept is known as the “Vauxhall Vizor”, and it's a design signature that we’ll see appearing gradually across the manufacturer’s range in the coming years.
It looks far more imposing, and you'd swear from the muscle car appearance that the new Mokka is bigger than its predecessor. But, despite being a centimetre wider, it’s about 12cm shorter in height than the old one, which may not impress taller drivers so much.
A not insignificant 120kg has been shaved off, too. Mind you, that weight is added back on - and then some - if you choose the electric version, thanks to the hefty battery.
There are three turbocharged engines on offer: two petrol units, which are both 1.2-litres, producing 100PS and 130PS, and a single 1.5-litre diesel, producing 110PS.
The electric version, known as the Mokka-e, has a 50kWh battery and tops the range in the power stakes, producing 136PS.
You get four main trims to choose from: SE, SRi, Elite Nav and Ultimate - two of which can be upgraded further. There’s also a fifth - a limited run of the Launch Edition range - but that won’t last.
The entry-level SE comes with 16-inch alloys, a seven-inch touchscreen, a seven-inch digital instrument screen, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, cruise control and LED headlights.
SRi is the sportiest version, adding 18-inch rims with red accents on both the exterior and interior, rear parking sensors, electronic climate control, a rear-view panoramic camera and heated front seats.
Elite Nav is next up the ladder. Although it only offers 17-inch wheels, this improves ride comfort while also adding adaptive cruise control and, as the name suggests, a satellite navigation system.
The top-of-the-range Ultimate Nav upgrades the wheels again to 18-inches, includes larger screens - 10-inches for the touchscreen and 12-inches for the instrument panel - as well as front and rear parking sensors, and matrix headlights.
The two mid-trims - SRi and Elite Nav - are also upgradeable to a Premium version, which adds in the larger touchscreen and instrument panel, along with front parking sensors to complement the ones on the back.
All Mokkas are front-wheel drive and come with a six-speed manual ‘box, except the Ultimate Nav, which employs an eight-speed automatic transmission.
If diesel is your fuel of choice, you’ll get the same engine across the range because there's only one diesel powerplant on offer. But go for petrol, and you'll have to put up with the lower-powered Mokka, unless you opt for Ultimate Nav, when you get the extra 30PS.
The electric version is slightly different. It only has three trims to choose from: SE Nav Premium (which combines SE with the Premium upgrade and adds SatNav) along with SRi Nav Premium and Elite Nav Premium, as per its fossil-fuelled siblings.
The old Mokka was not very good to drive, but the new one is much improved.
The new engines are quieter and more vigorous, and they’re helped by the six-speed manual gearbox, which is effortless. That said, those who feel effortlessness can only be achieved if the transmission is left to its own devices will disagree and want the eight-speed automatic.
These still aren't amazing engines, and those who prioritise the driving experience may still be left disappointed, but it does the basics well enough around town and is a step forward from what came before.
Motorway driving isn’t its strongest point, though. While it can get up to higher speeds, it feels a little lacking as the speedometer’s figures increase.
Those who like a car’s responsiveness when putting their foot down may find the automatic to be a bit slow to downshift when a burst of acceleration is commanded.
In the electric version, it’s a similar story. The instant power delivery that electric cars are famed for feels restrained and, like with the diesel and petrol variants, the faster you get, the more the car feels like it needs an extra push to propel itself.
The steering isn’t particularly responsive when making tiny corrections, but turn the wheel more, and it becomes very sensitive, with very little in between.
In changing the styling of the Mokka so much from modest to muscle, there’s possibly a perception that Vauxhall is trying to shift the type of car it sees it to be. While the automaker seems to want to go in a different direction, you can also sense that it wants to retain much of what it had before. Presumably, this is to avoid upsetting existing Mokka fans who wish to upgrade to the new one.
The suspension is slightly stiffer than its predecessor, so it handles better and limits body roll in the corners more so than the old Mokka. But it hasn’t gone full beans towards anything you’d define as sporty. Instead, it sort of sits somewhere between the two, as if it’s not sure which side of the fence to come down on.
In terms of comfort, it's doing okay, but not much more than that. The driving experience is a little plain, therefore we can only describe it in plain terms, such as ‘good’ and ‘reasonable’.
It is a nice car to look at, a nice car to be in, and a decent enough car to drive - but if you were to go on holiday and hire one, it wouldn’t necessarily get a mention on the postcard (other than “we hired a car”).
It will probably be worthy of a few photos, though.
The two petrol engines will both manage just over 50mpg while producing around 125g/km of CO2. There’s next to nothing to choose from between the two in terms of fuel economy.
As a result, if you want the petrol version, we can't see why you'd opt for the lower-powered engine. Mind you, you're stuck with it if you go for the entry-level SE grade, and it’s an optional extra on most of the other trims.
On the other hand, the diesel will manage just over 65mpg, with CO2 emissions reducing to 114g/km.
The electric version, meanwhile, boasts a claimed 200-mile range from a full charge, taking 7.5 hours to top up with a seven-kilowatt home charger. It’s worth noting, though, that a rapid 100kW charger at the roadside will refill 80% of its juice supply in just half an hour.
Vauxhalls are known for their rather bland interiors. Indeed, it’s always been a weak spot for the brand, but there are signs here that the automaker is starting to get its act together.
The dashboard curves around so that the controls in the middle of the car, including the touchscreen, are turned to face the driver. While there are still plenty of buttons, they’re all arranged more conveniently. It is a big step forward from the former Mokka’s dull, cluttered mess, and Vauxhall has said it has focused its interior design philosophy on minimalism.
With no analogue dials, you’re left relying on the instrument screen, which is simplistic, but it’s clear and can be customised.
The touchscreen houses Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity, and a DAB radio. And, while the infotainment system is a little sluggish, it’s functional and includes everything you’d expect.
Shiny plastic provides a border around the various segments of the dashboard. While it looks nice, it almost feels as though the interior’s looks have been prioritised over its quality, with a distinct cheapness on display.
Nevertheless, it's a big step forward. What's more, with Vauxhall now being a sister-company to the likes of Peugeot, Citroen - and the latter’s premium brand, DS - it’s certainly helped with the interior quality, and much of it bares similarities to that found inside its equivalent French cousins.
Vauxhall is owned by Stellantis nowadays, which includes stylish brands such as Abarth, Alfa Romeo and Maserati. No, you’re not getting a Maserati interior here by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s clear the sharing of ideas is helping the more ordinary brands that have struggled with their cabins in the past.
Vauxhall appears to be trying to have the best of both worlds. By losing a bit of height, the look of the new Mokka has been improved. But, inevitably, with height loss comes the loss of practicality.
Its boot capacity is 10-litres less than the previous Mokka, dropping from 360 to 350-litres - and, while losing such a small amount of room isn’t the end of the world, this keeps the Mokka’s usable space below many of its rivals.
The new Mokka’s boot will expand to 1105-litres with the seats down. But, while the DS 3 Crossback claims an identical 350-litres (growing to only 1050-litres), the Ford Puma has 401-litres (up to 1161), the Nissan Juke has 422-litres (up to 1305), the Peugeot 2008 has 434-litres (up to 1467), and the MINI Countryman has 450-litres (up to 1390).
It has split-folding rear seats in 60:40 configuration, but it’s clear that practicality is not the main focus of the Mokka, especially given Vauxhall has other SUVs better suited to the purpose.
As a result of the slight shrinkage, the rear will no longer comfortably accommodate taller occupants, while three adults of any size in the back is likely to be unthinkable for a lengthy trip. Getting into the rear is a squeeze, too, due to the diagonal shape of the rear doors.
The front feels less claustrophobic, with the swept-back windscreen providing an excellent view of the road ahead. So, if you're taking friends out for the day, but you’re tall (or as muscly as the car is), you’ll still be able to go, but you stand a much greater chance of being asked to do the driving.
The new Mokka has safety gizmos in abundance, and it's not hard to see why its predecessor was one of the highest-rated family cars of the year back in 2012 when it was tested.
All Mokkas have parking sensors to stop you from bashing into stuff - and a rear camera, so you have even fewer excuses to bang into stuff. This is complemented by lane keep assist to prevent you from veering into other traffic on the motorways, automatic emergency braking if it detects someone stepping out in front of you, and traffic sign recognition to remind you not to speed.
As is becoming increasingly common on newer cars, the new Mokka even has adaptive cruise control, so it will maintain the gap between you and the vehicle in front. This tech is great if you have a tailgating habit.
As if that wasn’t impressive enough, all the above is offered as standard - and that's an awe-inspiring array of gadgets that owners of much posher cars will be without, assuming they declined to look at the costly options list.
Credit where credit is due, Vauxhall should be applauded for offering so much without asking the customer to fork out extra.
Euro NCAP hasn't yet tested the all-new Mokka, so there's no safety rating for it. However, the previous Mokka got a five-star rating, scoring 96% for adults, 90% for children and a full-house 100% for safety assists.
We wait with interest to see if it’s possible to score over 100% for safety assists, because the tech on the new Mokka is undoubtedly going to put its high-scoring forerunner to shame.
There is no reason to think the new Vauxhall won't perform just as well - or even exceed the other scores.
The options, well, there are none. Okay, that's not exactly correct. You can choose from five exterior colours - grey, blue, black, red and green - although bizarrely, some trims have fewer choices for reasons that we can't quite fathom.
If you’re someone who goes for a car for its looks - and, frankly, that is one of the best selling points of the Mokka – then you're likely to be someone who wants a specific colour. So, to find some shades unavailable on certain trims adds a level of needless frustration.
Speaking of colours, some trims will let you choose to have a white or red roof if you want and, most excitingly of all, there’s an option called ‘Provisions For Spare Wheel’. Okay, okay, we confess, that isn’t exciting. At all. But the point is, the fact that this got a mention says a lot - the options list is almost as empty as a pub in a pandemic.
Apart from being able to add the matrix headlights to trims that don’t have it as standard, that really is it.
But there's no reason to criticise or make fun of a lacking options list. Why? Because it usually means most of the things that could be optional extras are already included. And, as we've seen from the safety gizmos, Vauxhall has been feeling generous in that respect.
In fact, the latter pair share bits of their underbellies with the Vauxhall nowadays.
Elsewhere, the Nissan is famed for its strange looks, while the Mokka’s cousins - the Peugeot and DS 3 - also offer very tempting alternatives with many similarities.
Of course, if you like Vauxhalls and your heart is set on an SUV, but your preference is practicality over aesthetic panache, you might want to think bigger and go for the Crossland - or even the larger Grandland X. Neither have had the Vauxhall Vizor treatment yet. However, it's sure to follow at some point.
Like the outgoing model, we reckon it’ll be popular, and, make no mistake, it's a big step forward over the original Mokka.
But it’s still lagging behind.
The looks are great, and Vauxhall will need to hope this gives it an edge because, as a family car, it still isn’t fantastic. Over longer distances especially, its rivals beat it when it comes to comfort - and they also have it licked when it comes to practicality.
On the plus side, it’s similarly priced to most of the rivals we’ve mentioned, and Vauxhall should be mightily commended for including so much kit as standard, especially as much of it revolves around safety tech.
This new car is a bold and daring design change, and the improvement, while not ground-breaking, is still proof that Vauxhall is heading in the right direction as a whole.
We reckon Vauxhall won’t be regretting the changes it’s made when Mokka after Mokka rolls off the production line.
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*Score based on Select’s unique meta score analysis, taking into account the UK’s top five leading independent car website reviews of the CAR
**Correct as of 07/07/2021. Based on 9 months initial payment, 5,000 miles over a 48 month lease. Initial payment equivalent to 9 monthly payments or £2090.57 Ts and Cs apply. Credit is subject to status.