A new kid's on the block to take on the Nissan Juke and Qashqai in the SUV market. Ed Stephens takes a closer look.
Vauxhall is set to venture into a new market with its first ever compact Sports Utility Vehicle.
The catchily named and trendy looking Mokka is aimed at people with an active lifestyle and comes with a choice of either two or four-wheel-drive.
Looking like a cross between Nissan’s Juke and Qashqai, it’s a car which aims to entice buyers away from both.
Price wise, at £15,995 – for the entry-level two-wheel-drive, 1.6-litre petrol model – it’s pitched closer to the Juke but is larger and comes with a host of interesting features, including a hill decent system for people who want to tackle serious off-road terrain.
It goes on sale in the UK tomorrow (Friday), having already entered showrooms in Europe – where there was a 40,000-strong advanced order book – wearing the Opel badge.
The UK market will be the biggest in western Europe and already 3,000 early orders have been taken.
“There has been a 140 per cent increase in sales of this type of vehicle since 2009 and we are confident that it will be a strong competitor in this market,” a Vauxhall spokesman told me.
Design bosses at the company describe the Mokka as being “full of confidence without being aggressive”, and expect 75 per cent of customers to be private buyers as opposed to those selecting one as a company car.
Three engines are available, the 1.6-litre, a 1.4-litre turbo-charged petrol – with all-wheel-drive – and a 1.7-litre turbo-diesel with a choice of either two or four-wheel-drive.
It’s anticipated that sales will be a 50:50 split between 2WD and 4WD although the diesel engine is expected to attract a massive 42 per cent of buyers.
The rugged looking Mokka is a car which offers plenty of interior space, allowing rear seat passengers to stretch their legs out, and has an appealing and well thought out cabin which is practical yet has splashes of chrome to give it a premium feel.
Unusually there are two glove boxes in the dashboard as well as two pockets in each of the front doors, all of which help to make it more user friendly. Immediately in front of the driver are four dials encased in a binnacle, with the satellite navigation screen in the centre of the dashboard.
Once you get behind the wheel, you soon realise that the Mokka has achieved a nice balance between an SUV and passenger car.
The high driving position gives good all round visibility and it has a high centre of gravity as well as the sort of ground clearance – 157mm – needed for a vehicle of this type.
Both the 1.4-litre petrol and 1.7-litre diesel models that I tried in Germany ahead of the UK delivery date showed just how much thought had gone into this new model.
They are light to drive, responsive yet offer a firm, comfortable ride with good road holding, although the diesel was noisier than I would have hoped for.
The high-mounted slick six-speed manual gearshift has a nice smooth action and at high speed on the autobahns, the Mokka felt reassuringly stable.
On normal roads, the all-wheel-drive models have power going only to the front axle, for economy. It’s only when the car detects that it’s loosing traction that power is sent to the rear wheels too.
The extra grip is ideal for both off-road work and for high speed action.
The quickest in the line-up is the 1.4-litre manual six-speed 4x4 turbocharged Mokka, which reaches a top speed of 118mph and does 0-60mph in 9.4 seconds. For buyers looking for economy, the diesel model is claimed to average 62.8 miles per gallon yet will still hit 60mph in 10.5 seconds on its way to a top speed of 115mph.
Four trim levels are available so buyers can select both the interior and engine to suite their lifestyle.