Vauxhall Mokka X FASHION WITH FRUGALITY (72/100)
Vauxhall's Mokka X is a small Crossover that probably makes most sense in 1.6-litre CDTi diesel form. Jonathan Crouch drives it.
Ten Second Review
'X' marks the spot with Vauxhall's revised Mokka compact crossover. It was the first of the brand's SUV/Crossover models to get this new designation, one that in this case signifies revised styling, improved engines and the addition of the innovative 'OnStar' personal connectivity feature across the whole range. Let's check this car out in 1.6-litre CDTi diesel form.
The Mokka has been very good to Vauxhall, notching up more than half a millions sales across Europe, and with almost a quarter of those in the UK. It means this compact crossover has not only been one of the best sellers in its tightly contested sector, it's been a regular in the top ten overall sales chart. So, the revised Mokka X has a lot to live up to in the face of ever-improving rivals.
The Mokka X doesn't tamper with those virtues of its predecessor, but it does come with a sleeker look inside and out. As part of this, the dash has been updated quite significantly with a new, larger infotainment touchscreen in all models. Other new technology for this X-rated crossover includes Vauxhall's 'OnStar' personal connectivity and service assistant. Is all that enough to keep it at the head of the class? Let's check out the popular 1.6-litre CDTi diesel version and find out.
Most people buying a compact crossover will be more concerned with comfort than outright performance. This hasn't prevented Vauxhall from adding improved engines to the Mokka X and the pick of them is the 136PS 1.6-litre turbodiesel. It's known as the 'Whisper' diesel for good reason as it's hushed at all speeds and there's little need to bother the upper reaches of its rev band as a hefty 320 Newton metres of shove is delivered at 2000rpm. In the most popular front-drive form with the manual six-speed gearbox like the car we tried, it cracks 0-62mph in 9.3 seconds. There's also a 110PS version of this engine that manages 11.5 seconds to get from stationary to 62mph, en route to 112mph.
Whichever Mokka X you choose, they all ride with firm, controlled comfort and handle corners as well as most cars in the compact crossover class. A little more steering feel would be welcome, but the helm is light to turn when parking or dicing with town traffic. The Vauxhall is also supple and hushed on the motorway. Unusually for a car of this class, the Mokka offers 4x4 options in both petrol and diesel guises - one of those fully adaptive set-ups that reacts to the surface you're driving over. The electronic torque transfer device that controls the whole system will always know when extra traction is required, at which point it will automatically and seamlessly send up to 50% of the engine's torque from the front to the rear axle.
Design and Build
You might think that updating a car's styling is an easy task. However, when it's one of your best sellers, that job is fraught with risk as you don't want to put off the thousands who chose the previous Mokka every year. That responsibility fell to British designer Mark Adams and his approach has been to give the car a little added X-factor. He's managed it. The headlamps with LED daytime running lights are more angular than the last model's, perhaps even a touch more aggressive. It's a theme carried through to the grille, which is neatly integrated into the car's appearance with a black blade across the upper edge and thin chrome strips that extend from the Griffin badge in the centre.
Inside, there's a restyled dashboard incorporating a smart 7 or 8-inch Intellilink infotainment screen. Otherwise, it's much as it was. In the back, the rear seats benefit from wide opening doors that simplify the fitment of a child seat, though that sharply rising waistline might restrict the view out for smaller occupants. As for luggage room, well, there's no high boot lip to negotiate and beyond it lies 356-litres of carriage space - about 30% more than you'd get in a Nissan Juke.
Market and Model
Black pump-fuelled versions of this car all use a 1.6-litre CDTi engine, offered with either 110PS or, as here, with 136PS. Even for the least powerful unit and the most basic level of trim, you'll need a budget of close to £20,000. Not that we can see why you would buy the least powerful 110PS model, given that for only £350 more, the 136PS variant is almost as efficient and significantly quicker. Both 1.6-litre diesels come either in standard form with 18-inch wheels or, for the same price, in 'ecoFLEX' guise with 17-inch wheels. Make sure you know what you're buying. You'll also need to know that all 110PS diesel models are front-driven, but if you go for the 136PS variant, there's the option to pay around £1,000 for an auto gearbox or around £1,800 more for AWD - on the CDTi, you can only have one or the other.
There's a choice of four trim levels, 'Active', 'Design Nav', Elite' and 'Elite Nav'. Standard equipment on the mid-range 'Design Nav' models most will choose is impressive and includes 18" alloy wheels on most models, plus LED daytime running lights, front fog lights and silver roof rails on the outside. Inside the cabin, drivers will benefit from an 8-inch touch screen with Vauxhall's IntelliLink Infotainment system, as well as the innovative OnStar personal connectivity and service assistant. 'Elite Nav' is the top-of-the-range trim and adds a full leather interior, heated front seats and steering wheel, plus tinted rear windows.
Cost of Ownership
As far as cost of ownership is concerned, it would be fair to call this Mokka 'class competitive'. As you'd expect these days, a start/stop system is fitted across the range (though only on manual gearbox models) to cut the engine when you don't need it, stuck in traffic or waiting at the lights. As a result, the 136PS 1.6-litre CDTi diesel Mokka X we tried manages 68.9mpg and 106g/km of CO2. That compares to the 72.4mpg and 103g/km figures you'd achieve from this engine in its 110PS guise.
What else? Well, to help you get somewhere close to the quoted fuel and CO2 figures on a day-to-day basis, there's an ECO section of the trip computer that includes a gearshift indicator, shows you fuel results over the last 30 miles and offers a graphical display that's supposed to encourage eco-minded driving. What else? Well, Vauxhall being a mainstream brand, residual values aren't as strong as, for example, you'd get from a rival Honda HR-V, but the Mokka X claws the advantage back with modest cost of options and very affordable servicing you can budget for with a range of pre-paid servicing plans. There's an unremarkable, but potentially extendable, three year 60,000 mile warranty.
The key question here relates to whether Vauxhall done enough with the Mokka X to stay at the forefront of the compact crossover pack. To answer that question, we'd say yes. The changes to the styling and engines are small, but the big improvements come inside the cabin and it'll help that this Mokka is now one of the most connected cars you can buy, thanks to the 'OnStar' concierge and personal assistant system being standard on all models.
Overall, the Mokka X is a good looking, well equipped and spacious compact Crossover that shows just why this class of car is so popular. The affordable running costs of this 1.6-litre CDTi variant may well seal the deal for many buyers.