Small Crossover is both a trendy and practical option
SMALL Crossovers should be fun and fashionable but that doesn't mean they can't also be versatile, capable and practical too. Jonathan Crouch checks out Vauxhall's Mokka.
SUDDENLY, Vauxhall design is all about the delivery of that most current of automotive traits, the 'lifestyle statement'.
It has been ever since brand parent General Motors belatedly realised that profit, not market share, was of most importance in achieving commercial respectability. And the result has been a whole wave of interesting new models wearing the Griffin badge.
This Mokka SUV Crossover has a spacious supermini floorplan and fashionable cheekiness designed for wider appeal. It's a package also created to perfectly position Vauxhall against other direct segment contenders.
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A Vauxhall then, that is in every way a car of its time, very much chiming with the new face of a changing brand.
Under the bonnet, there are three main engine options, the most affordable, as ever, being the least desirable of the trio, the 2WD-only 115PS petrol 1.6-litre variant which, with only 155Nm of torque, needs to be rowed along a little with the gear lever - a stick that only offers you five speeds.
A better bet for petrol people is the Mokka we tried, the 140PS 1.4-litre turbo. Sixty is just 9.4s away en route to 118mph, so it's usefully more rapid, and there's a healthier 200Nm of torque. Despite all this and the standard inclusion of 4WD, the provision of a 6-speed gearbox and more modern mechanicals mean that this pokier 1.4 is actually cheaper to run than the feebler 1.6.
The most practical engine choice though is the one most buyers will probably select, the 130PS 1.7-litre CDTi diesel capable of a top speed of around 116mph and rest to sixty in around 10s. You get all the main mechanical choices with this unit - so you can specify your car with 6-speed manual or automatic transmission and with or without 4WD. Perhaps more importantly, you get a lot more pulling power - 300Nm in all. Every Mokka is theoretically capable of towing a braked trailer of up to 1200kg in weight, but this diesel variant is the only one that'll really take such a task in its stride.
This Mokka sets its own course amongst small Crossovers. Though supermini-based it's nearly as big inside as a family hatch-style Crossover. But whatever your thoughts about this car's size, you'll probably agree that the way this Mokka looks will go a long way towards selling it. Cute and individualistic without being wilfully outlandish.
Under the skin are the underpinnings of a supermini. 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.
And at the wheel? Well the interior isn't overly adventurous, but this car's more conservative vibe might just mean it mops up sales from people left a bit cold by the sheer extravagance of some rivals.
Compared to a conventional 1.6-litre petrol-powered Vauxhall Astra family hatchback, a Mokka with exactly the same engine would save you around £1,500 and offer you more luggage space. A diesel Astra with the same 130PS 1.7-litre CDTi engine you'll find in this Mokka would also be around £1,500 more.
You'll be pleased to find that whichever of the five-door models you choose - 1.6-litre petrol 2WD, 1.4-litre petrol turbo 4WD or the 1.7-litre 130PS CDTI diesel in either drive configuration - it'll come well equipped.
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, even the oldest engine in the line-up, the 115PS 1.6-litre petrol unit, returns 43.5mpg on the combined cycle and 153g/km of CO2. As for the 140PS 1.4-litre petrol turbo 4x4 Mokka we tried, well despite the extra power and weight, the figures are nearly as good - 44.1mpg and 149g/km of CO2.
Stacking up even better is the Mokka in 1.7-litre CDTi 130PS diesel form. Thanks to 'Clean Tech' technology that optimises combustion control, NOx nitrogen oxide emissions are reduced and overall efficiency is dramatically improved. To the point where the figures for this variant are 62.8mpg on the combined cycle and 120g/km of CO2.
Not too long ago, it was hard to think of a more conventional brand than Vauxhall. But that was then. Here's how the company is thinking now: looks a lot more appealing doesn't it?
True, this isn't the sharpest handling car of its kind. Nor is it as affordable as some might expect - but that's only an issue if your comparison is with something smaller, much less well equipped and probably more feebly powered.
Look clearly, as I've tried to do here, at what you actually get for what you actually pay and the Mokka makes fashionable sense.