On learning that Vauxhall has created a car called the Mokka X, you could be forgiven for wondering what happened to the Mokka VIII and IX. The simple answer is that they never existed. The slightly less simple, but more useful, answer is that Vauxhall has decided to include X in the names of all its SUV and crossover vehicles, and the Mokka happens to be the first to have been so blessed.
To serious motoring enthusiasts, the Mokka X is barely distinguishable from its predecessor, one of the most popular cars of its type in the country. The most obvious difference is the styling, intended to give what Vauxhall describes as a “wider, more solid and muscular stance”. Your mileage may vary, but for me the new look is more grown-up and less cartoony than the old.
The similarly revised interior owes a lot to that of the Astra, and benefits from a reduction in the number of buttons and switches. Every version has a touchscreen of some sort which houses several of the minor controls. IntelliLink infotainment and the OnStar connectivity and service system (which will call the emergency services if you have an accident and are not in a position to do so yourself) are standard across the range.
Mechanically, the Mokka X is as familiar as could be. The only significant change is the introduction of a 150bhp version of the 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine used in conjunction with the smooth-changing six-speed automatic gearbox – 1.4s with manual transmission produce a maximum of 138bhp as before.
There’s also a 114bhp 1.6 non-turbo petrol (not available for test so far) and a 134bhp 1.6 diesel which, in the Mokka X if not in other Vauxhalls, I prefer to the 1.4 turbo. A more modest 109bhp 1.6 diesel is available too, and in EcoFlex form this has the best fuel economy in the range at 72.4mpg, along with CO2 emissions of just 103g/km.
All models apart from the 1.6 petrol and the EcoFlexes come with either front- and four-wheel drive. The latter gives the Mokka X more off-road potential – already reasonable enough thanks to the car’s considerable ground clearance – though Vauxhall isn’t emphasising this too strongly; on the international media launch, the off-road activity consisted of a drive through a forest track which was also completed, without obvious distress, by a Cascada.
On-road behaviour is pleasant enough. The automatic gearbox, as already stated, is very pleasant, and the manual operates smoothly, as old Vauxhall units didn’t but current ones do. The steering, recalibrated for Vauxhall models compared with Opel versions found in all non-UK markets, is precise and firm without being too heavy.
The ride quality is variable according to road conditions. The original Mokka was the subject of outspoken press criticism when Opel launched it. Vauxhall very hurriedly – and I mean in less than three weeks – came up with its own set-up which was subsequently applied to the Opels.
It has not been changed for the Mokka X, but it could do with more attention to the high-speed damping; on bumpy tarmac the car is unpleasantly bouncy. Apart from that, it’s up to the job, managing to hide the car’s high centre of gravity to an impressive extent. Nevertheless, country roads, no matter how smooth, are not its favourite environment. To experience the Mokka X at its best you need to drive it on dual-carriageways or in town, which I suppose is where most owners will use them most of the time.
There being no changes to the body structure, room for passengers and their luggage is the same as before. Four tall adults can be carried in reasonable comfort, and the luggage capacity with the rear seats up is 356, 23 more than offered by the rival Ford EcoSport. The window design remains poor, with the usual unfortunate effect on visibility.
The range is divided into Design Nav, Active, Elite and Elite Nav trim levels, with Active and the two Elites expected to be far more popular than the one below them. On-the-road prices range from £17,590 for the 1.6 petrol Design Nav to £26,765 for the 1.6 diesel four-wheel drive Elite Nav. The cheapest of the sub-110g/km models costs £19,515.