What is it? The Vauxhall Mokka X is a major update to the four-year-old Mokka crossover
Key features: Revised styling, improved interior, new name
Our view: The updates add appeal to the model but the Vauxhall Mokka X is still overshadowed by rivals
Type of review: Taster test
The Vauxhall Mokka first appeared in late 2012 and while it has not exactly written many headlines, it has proved a major sales success for the Griffin brand. And while every manufacturer needs to be in the crossover market right now those already in it cannot sit back – new models and new rivals are appearing all the time.
So rather than simply produce a typical mid-life refresh, Vauxhall has chosen to present the car as a new model. The extra ‘X’ sees the Mokka head up a new crossover line from Vauxhall and before the end of 2017 it will be joined by sister models the Crossland X and Grandland X.
What’s new – engines
Mechanically, the car gains an extended engine line-up, adding a more powerful 1.4-litre turbo petrol unit of 152hp and the 1.6-litre ‘whisper-jet’ diesel with 110hp.
You can only buy the new range-topping petrol engine with all-wheel-drive and an auto gearbox. Current evidence shows, however, that the vast majority of buyers will be happy with front-wheel-drive – wanting the looks not the ability. And with more drivers turning back to petrol we opted instead to try a Mokka (sorry, Mokka X) fitted with the less powerful 1.4 unit of 140hp.
This really is all one needs – it offers reasonable pace, hitting 62mph from rest in 9.9 seconds and returning combined-cycle fuel economy of 47mpg, though with the trade-off of 140g/km CO2 emissions. On the road it is reasonably refined, feeling pacey but not coarse, the six-speed manual gearbox more satisfying than the auto and the car riding well.
Of course the diesels will provide greater fuel economy – the new unit returns combined cycle figures of up to 72mpg, its more powerful 136hp sister 69mpg, with CO2 emissions down to 103 and 106g/km respectively. But you will need to consider carefully whether your running cost savings will justify the price jump of close to £2,000.
What’s new – looks and equipment
The major changes to the Mokka X are to the exterior styling, and the quality of the interior. From the front you will easily tell an X from a Mokka – the new design is a definite improvement, the elements appear much more integrated.
The creases are softer, the grille wider, the chrome add-ons are gone, and the headlamps are less dominating and with daytime running lights built in. The Mokka X also follows other Vauxhall models in being able to be specified with the optional AFL LED lights that adapt to driving conditions over nine different settings.
At the rear you will need more assistance from the registration plate to identify a new Mokka X. The main differences are in the lower bumper area, notably much less obvious reflectors.
Inside the Mokka X adopts the latest Vauxhall thinking on dash layouts as seen on the recent Astra. Now dominated by the seven-inch touchscreen of the IntelliLink system, the result is a decluttered, more user-friendly layout.
The car also gains quite a lot of technology. The IntelliLink offers smartphone app integration through Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, as well as more typical features such as Bluetooth and audio streaming.
The upper two of the four Mokka X trim levels see the IntelliLink screen grow by an extra inch and add extra features, including an integrated navigation system and the ability to watch videos when the car is at rest.
OnStar, the Vauxhall personal assistant service, is also standard across the Mokka range. While headlined by its automatic reaction function in an emergency, for example alerting emergency services if the car crashes, OnStar also offers a wide range of additional features. These can range from navigation advice through one of the advisors contacted through a button in the cabin, to controlling functions such as door locking through a smartphone app. Vauxhall claims with some justification that OnStar is the industry leader in such connected services.
The Vauxhall Mokka was due for an update and the Mokka X is a lot more than window dressing. The changes do not turn the car into a class leader – compare prices particularly in the higher trim levels and several perhaps more appealing rivals will compete for attention. But the entry-level models in particular are certainly worthy of consideration and the Mokka X should continue the line’s strong sales performance.
Vauxhall Mokka X – key specifications
Model tested: Vauxhall Mokka X 1.4T 140PS
Price: From £18,310 (Range starts £17,590)
On sale: October 2016
Engine: 1.4-litre petrol, 140hp, 200Nm
0-62mph and max speed*: 9.9sec, 120mph
Economy and emissions*: 47.1mpg ,140g/km
Key rivals: Nissan Juke, Honda HR-V, Renault Captur
Test date: December 2016
* = front-wheel-drive version
The Car Expert Taster Tests are concise summaries of new models to the market, that we have driven for under 50 miles.