There comes a time in a man or woman’s life when it suddenly dawns that you may never drive the latest Ferrari, visit the meandering curves of the Amazon, Surf on the Gold Coast or ride on a hover board (where are they Back To The Future 2? you promised!) Perhaps your focus has changed, houses, mortgages, children, jobs and so on, each means change. Each demands a commitment to a different lifestyle, the change can be slight, or it can be vast, that much is up to the individual or individuals involved. Change in circumstances, no matter how small, are almost a form of constant in the shifting sands of a lifetime. At what point in a life do we stop thinking about what might be just around the corner and focus on the now? At what point does the realisation that this is where you are occur? At what point so we put aside our hopes and dreams and buy a car that tells people you’ve reached a certain point in life and that this is the best that it will be? It was Autocar that got @ thinking when they described the Ford Kuga as the new Capri. In the article they argue that the five door off roader is as much a lifestyle choice as was the Capri some forty years previous and that the Kuga gives off the impression of a sporty, outdoor lifestyle as much as the Capri also suggested a sporting choice. An interesting argument that caused me to think back on the three (or was it four?) years in the late 90’s when I was hooning around West Yorkshire in my own 2.0 Laser and the changes that had occured in my life since those heady, carefree days.
Now I realise that the Vauxhall Mokka is only really similar to the Ford Kuga in so far as they can both be described as being ruggedly styled on/off road family cars but the idea that it projects a certain lifestyle choice is clearly what has made it a popular choice with the public so far this year. It’s safe to say that the rise in popularity of cars like the Mokka show no signs of slowing down in the near future. My thoughts on the interior and exterior styling of the Mokka can be found at https://motormartin.wordpress.com/2015/09/25/vauxhall-mokka-milk-and-two-sugars-or-as-it-comes/ but here, today, I’m concerning myself with the driving experience.
Possibly the most pointless, yet curiously satisfying aspect of the Mokka occurs when you turn the key in the ignition as the needles in the speedometer and rev counter both spin around to the stop and back to check systems are all working and so forth. It’s a feature of the car that immediately impresses those of us that remember a time when central locking meant leaning over and locking the interior by yourself before getting out and finishing the job with a key of all things! With my current long term test drive having a 1.6 petrol engine I wasn’t getting particularly excited about the prospect of spending time with the same size 1.6 CDTi but I needn’t have worried. For those people who still haven’t driven a thoroughly modern diesel the first surprise will be the lack of noise echoing around the cabin from the engine bay. Gone are the days when upon hearing a diesel one would turn around and expect to see a battered Renault moving slowly towards you driven by an elderly gentleman with a look of panic upon his face or a tractor taking up both both sides of a country lane pottering just around the next blind bend. With the engine idling there really is no clue that there is anything other than a conventional engine in the front. Pulling away gives the first clue that something different is happening, you need to use more revs than you would normally but the low down torque on offer means that you are able to pull away impressively and are soon reaching for second and continuing to move up through the excellent gearbox.
Looking over their website at http://www.vauxhall.co.uk/vehicles/vauxhall-range/cars/mokka/overview.html we find the following from Vauxhall ‘the innovative 1.6CDTi ‘Whisper Diesel’ is now available in the Mokka. With 110PS and 136PS variants, the engine combines powerful performance with superb refinement and even hits running costs that rival competitor hatchbacks. In fact, with CO2 emissions starting at 109g/km, the ‘Whisper Diesel’ Mokka is exempt from road tax in year one. And thanks to a combined MPG as high as 68.9 it also offers a single tank range of up to 785 miles.’
Impressive figures I’m sure you’ll agree but as with all official MPG information it’s important to remember that out in the real world these figures might be harder to replicate. During my drive I found that the fuel was sipped at a rather frugal 50 odd MPG, which considering the amount of traffic on my route that day and the fact that vehicles of this type do not exactly slip through the air like the Coupé mentioned earlier (I still miss it…) I thought that this was quietly impressive and is certainly an aspect of the car that doesn’t disappoint. The problem that the Mokka has though is that there are many other cars out there that are tailored towards families, that would appear to offer everything that the Mokka does and more. @ would suggest the Skoda Yeti as prices start from just £16600 and build quality is up there with the best. With a reasonable amount of research it’s easy to find a Yeti with a decent discount which makes it even more appealing.
Once used to the raised driving position and the extra views it allows you it quickly becomes clear why these smaller SUVs have become so popular. The car zips up and down the rev range freely, the brakes are sharp and pull the car up quickly and safely with the added security of ABS always there if you overcook it. This Mokka has Vauxhall’s stop start system fitted (although all it takes is a button press to turn it off) which does exactly what you’d expect it to do. Is there a survey or evidence that conclusively states the benefits of these stop start systems? The Vauxhall salesman that I spoke too certainly wasn’t convinced.
As a town or city car there is lots that would tempt me into a Mokka, it’s revvy and willing for a diesel, with a surprising turn of speed. The gearbox and clutch work well together and the steering allows you to steer the Vauxhall and place it where you want it to be on the road. The main problem, as far as I can see, is a Yeti shaped 4 x 4 arriving over the horizon.
Where will you go?