Vauxhall Mokka: Milk and two sugars or as it comes?

There was a time not that long ago that Vauxhall’s lineup was seen as stodgy, well meaning and just a little bit dull (alright, alot.) Cars like the Vectra and the Astra were the mainstay of the fleet managers who were in charge of choosing value over excitement and generally sticking two fingers up at the reps who had to spend hours and hours each day surrounded by horrible dark plastics and looking on in envy as a Mondeo or Focus flew past. Looking out from their own personal Vauxhall shaped hell, the Ford man appeared as if from another planet and would no doubt achieve far better sales figures as well. Forward wind twenty short years and the Vectra and Astra drivers of old wouldn’t recognise the Vauxhall of 2015. Indeed Jeremy Clarkson himself, stated that Vauxhall was the only car company at the moment that didn’t produce an ‘ugly’ car! It has to be said that Clarkson is probably right, the Insignia is a handsome car that hides it’s bulk very cleverly and with its mid life facelift has been improved in nearly every area. The new Corsa has been sharpened up from the older model with new engines and a new bodystyle that while recognisably Corsa now oozes freshness and modernity. I like the Adam, a car that is bold, technologically interesting and stylish even when competing against the Mini and Fiat 500, cars which both have mountains of history and tradition to back them up. There are more of course, dotted throughout Vauxhall’s range but that isn’t my focus here, today I’ve been looking at the Mokka.

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Based on the Astra chassis the Mokka is a late entry into a very crowded marketplace. We have become used to seeing mini SUVs from Ford, Toyota, Nissan, Suzuki and the like blocking up roads around primary schools as they eject children out into the world of learning and now, there is another joining in because clearly, it’s what the motorists of Britain need. Of course, once these cars are child free, they tend to gather together in the wide open spaces of local supermarkets or town centres grazing for food or battling for supremacy and it’s into this environment that the Mokka is expected to not just survive but to hopefully become the leader of the pack.

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With prices starting at around £18500 and rising to £23000 the Mokka cannot really be described as a budget option especially when you can purchase a brand new Dacia Duster with two wheel drive from £9495, four wheel drive from £11495 before topping out at around £18000. For those keeping a tight rein on the pounds and pennies you’d have to be utterly convinced that the Mokka is worth the extra money before signing on the dotted line.

Sitting in the cabin is a pleasant enough experience, the seats of the 1.6 CDTi Exclusiv 5d that is my transport for the day, are comfortable, supportive and include a decent enough range of adjustment for both height and reach. With the steering wheel also able to be moved it is not difficult to cater the driving position to your own specific requirements. One of the benefits of a modern SUV is the raised driving position when compared to a normal car and even before starting the engine you certainly feel as if you have a much better view of the potential hazards around you. A closer examination of the interior reveals a a pleasant enough mix of material being used around the cabin with the levels of finish a world away from the Mokka’s rarely spoken of older cousin, the Frontera… There are some interesting features dotted around the interior but my overall impression is one of fussiness. When you look at the picture below try and count the number of buttons and dials present on the steering wheel and centre console, given up yet? The answer is, of course, too many. Why have one button when three will do instead! Vauxhall could learn something from the simplicity of the Jaguar S-Type interior where there are only the buttons needed to make the driving experience comfortable for the driver and passengers alike and what buttons there are, are large, clear and engage with a satisfying solidity, something the Mokka’s can only dream of. I suspect that someone at Vauxhall already knew that this aspect of the cabin wasn’t a success as the first Insignia had very much the same problem and one that was subsequently solved during its recent facelift. The replacement car having a much simplified and more sophisticated centre console which really lifts the interior closer to where it needs to be.

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The rear of the Mokka will comfortably fit two adults with a totally unnecessary fold down dual cupholder armrest available if you so want it. Otherwise three adults at a push will fit but wouldn’t really want to be involved in a long trip unless they know each other very well. Vauxhall quote the boot capacity as being 362 litres which is behind the Skoa Yeti at 416 litres but in front of the Nissan Juke at only 207 litres. In ‘real life’ the boot is not cavernous but will certainly have more than enough space for the average family and their weekly trips to the supermarket and garden centre although packing for two weeks away could provide more troublesome. Especially if your children pack as much rubbish as mine!

Personally I like the style of the Mokka, it’s big, but not too big due to it being based on the Astra, which means that for most people, in most situations the Vauxhall will behave much like a normal car and for most people, that will be more than enough.

Checkout the second and final part where driving impressions are gained and reflected upon.

Where will you go?

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