When my neighbour is round to spy the latest test car before the engine has cooled it must be something tasty.
In this case it was the new Vauxhall Mokka and it was the front of the car that caught David’s eye. No surprise there, whatever you thought of the styling of the old Mokka forget it. This is not an improvement it’s a transformation. The designers have nailed it with razor sharp styling and a stunning front. It’s called Vizor and you can bet your last quid this will be the new face of Vauxhall. They would be daft if it is not.
Vauxhall has been under the Peugeot banner for a couple of years so may be some of that French flair has rubbed off on the boys and girls in Luton.
What is certain is that under the Mokka skin is a bit of Peugeot 208 and Citroen C4 and that is no bad thing. If you can blend good design with decent handling then you are on a winner.
I was reminded of the 50 metre test coined by the late automotive titan Richard Parry Jones, who did wonders for Ford. That was all he needed to decide if a car met his demanding standards. I’ve always said I can judge a car after two circuits of a roundabout and it did not take long to like the feeling of Mokka, even though there were no roundabouts nearby to negotiate.
Let’s not get too carried away. Mokka is not the best handling compact crossover on the market, that prize would probably go to its Peugeot 2008 cousin or more likely the Ford Puma but it has a nice blend of comfort and straight down the middle handling. I drive a short stretch of humpy back road which is a good suspension test and Mokka passed with honours. You tend to hear the bumps more than feel them.
It is not even the most practical either having lost 124mm in length so it is not going to be winning prizes for the most interior space which begs the question who is the Mokka aimed at?
Two groups that come to mind are older folk who like a higher driving position so they can slide on to the seat and not drop down so far that getting out is a strain, and families with a couple of young children because leggy teens will find back seat leg room tight. Boot space is a smidge less than before but drop the back seats and there is room for a couple of sets of golf clubs and trolleys so that makes the market even wider!
Inside has been transformed as well following the digital dashboard trend but shies away from Peugeot’s oddball set up where the driver spends an age adjusting the seat and tiny steering wheel just to get a clear view of the dashboard.
If anything Mokka’s widescreen layout is more akin to a Volkswagen Golf with a 12 inch digital driver’s binnacle flowing into a 10 inch central screen for navigation and audio etc. Everything is clear and selecting the various options for the binnacle is easy. There are even physical switches for the heating controls. Yippee.
Trim quality has been upgraded and looks particularly impressive at the top end of the range. Vauxhall has always been generous with kit and that is a strength of Mokka even at SE entry level where they haven’t skimped on safety features either to help give a stress free drive.
Engine choice is another strength with a brace of three cylinder turbo 1.2 petrols, a 1.5 diesel and an electric. My guess is the 98bhp petrol will be the favourite but my 128hp packed a mild punch and would tempt me. You can only tell it is a three cylinder from outside and is otherwise a smooth performer with the option of an eight speed auto.
The delivery driver did well on his trip from the Midlands recording 50mpg; I wasn’t so good ending the week on 39mpg which probably had something to do with me enjoying the car’s performance and the steering wheel paddle shifters.
It is early days for European Car of the Year candidates but with its excellent all round package and eye catching styling this new Mokka is definitely in with a shout.
Mokka Elite Nav Premium 8sp auto
£27,100 (starts £20,735)
1.2 litre petrol turbo; 128bhp
137g/km. 1st VED £220
Insurance group 18
Boot 350 litres