The Vauxhall Mokka has been becoming more and more popular over the past few years, and is a rivals for the Skoda Yeti, Kia Sportage and Nissan Juke, the Mokka has chunky exterior dimensions and higher suspension that makes what is actually a small car look significantly bigger. There are three engines to choose from – a 1.4-litre petrol turbo, a 1.7-litre diesel or an entry-level 1.6-litre petrol model – the Mokka comes in three main specifications, the entry-level Exclusiv, a mid-range and gadget-filled Tech Line that is equipped with sat-nav and reversing sensors, and a top-of-the-range SE model. The only stumbling block is the high list price, with both the Yeti and the Juke undercutting the Mokka by a large margin, and while it has more space than its main competitors, it isn’t anywhere near as fun to drive.
MPG, running costs & CO2 emissions
For the best efficiency, we’d recommend the 1.7-litre CDTi front-wheel drive model, which returns an impressive 60.4mpg and emits a fairly low 124g/km of CO2. However, that still lags behind both the Skoda Yeti Greenline and the Mazda CX-5, so the Mokka will end up costing you more in annual road tax every year. Servicing costs should be decent, though, while insurance levels depend on whether you choose front or four-wheel-drive. But, for company car drivers, there are other options out there that will be cheaper to run on a daily basis, and, as previously mentioned, Vauxhalls do have a habit of losing their value quite steeply as time goes on.
Interior & comfort
You can tell that the Mokka has been tuned to drive on the UK's ever-worsening rough roads, so steering is good – but the Mokka just never gets past being functional, and certainly is never fun to drive. The suspension is better than the previous models but still quite firm – so while you won't feel a judder through your spine when passing over potholes, you'll still bounce around a fair bit, and as a result, it's still quite uncomfortable. The suitably supportive front seats offer a reasonable driving position, while all seats can accommodate passengers of all shapes and sizes. You also get automatic headlights and windscreen wipers, and moody interior lighting on the higher-spec models.
Practicality & boot space
It may not win any awards for practicality, but you wouldn’t guess that the Mokka is actually based on a supermini. It has a surprisingly spacious interior, with its high roof making it easy for adults to fit comfortably in the back. You also get deep storage bins on either side of the driver's seat. The footwells are nicely flat, even in the four-wheel drive models, while the 356-litre boot is larger than on rivals such as a the Nissan Juke. The luggage space is decent – it's bigger than both the MINI Countryman and the Juke, although it can't quite match the Skoda Yeti and the Nissan Qashqai. You can easily fold down flat the standard-fit 60:40 split-folding seats with handy nylon tabs, and when you do the boot expands to 1,372 litres, creating enough room for larger suitcases and outdoor gear. On the road, the Mokka is equipped with electronic stability and traction control, hill start assist and hill descent control as standard.
Reliability & safety
Vauxhall has something of a chequered past when it comes to reliability. In the 2013 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, it fell a substantial 13 places in the manufacturer rankings from 13th place in 2012 to 26th out of 32. The Mokka is still to new to feature in the top 100 cars league table, but it shares engines with the rest of the Vauxhall range, as well as the Chevrolet line-up – so the components are tried-and-tested and problems should be rare. It does have an entirely new chassis that comes from the latest Chevrolet Trax, which has also been comprehensively tested by both brands. Overall, the plastics used inside the car are of good quality, but some of the sections around the door look unlikely to withstand that much wear and tear, and some of the seat cloth is decidedly flimsy. But it is safe, securing the maximum five-star rating in the Euro NCAP crash safety test and comes with Vauxhall's huge 10-year/100,000-mile warranty.
Engines, drive & performance
The Mokka isn’t going to set your world alight, offering a decidedly average driving experience across the board. The 1.6-litre Mokka is reasonably smooth under hard acceleration and pleasingly quiet for an entry-level model, even when driven on the motorway. We’d recommend the 1.4-litre turbo petrol for anyone looking for better performance, which comes with an effective six-speed manual gearbox and suspension tuned for a sportier drive. But the best overall pick is the 1.7-litre diesel which has the best mix of speed and fuel economy, and, despite becoming somewhat noisy, accelerates smoothly while using less fuel. The automatic gearbox isn’t very effective, not changing gear as often as it should, getting far too noisy, straining the engine too much and using much too much fuel, so we’d suggest sticking with the manual. There is some body roll when driving through the corners, but it's reasonably controlled, and offers decent handling and a comfy ride that does iron out most of the lumps and bumps. The Mokka is also reasonably good off-road, with the well-weighted steering also making parking and changing lanes on the motorway very easy. You also get a good view from an acceptable driving position, thanks to big mirrors, and large front and rear windscreens.
Price, value for money & options
The entry-level Mokka is affordable but only available with front-wheel drive and a decidedly sluggish 1.6-litre petrol engine, and once you start putting in better engines and four-wheel drive, the list price skyrockets fairly rapidly, closing the gap with its main rivals. You do get a lot of equipment, though, especially the Tech Line model, which is also fitted with 17-inch alloys, sat-nav and DAB digital radio as standard, and is less money than the similar-spec Exclusiv. But, as this is a Vauxhall, you should be able to haggle the price down with the official dealer. Don’t expect it to have strong resale values on the used car market, though, particularly compared to its more premium rivals – you're likely to take a hit when you make a second-hand deal.