There was an intention here, quite plainly, to make the Mokka at least a little bit fun to drive. It stands out from its competitors in other ways, after all, so why not?

Vauxhall has therefore gone for slightly firmer-than-class-average suspension rates in the car and has conjured just the merest hint of tenacity and roll resistance in its handling, for your driving pleasure. Unfortunately, and for a few reasons, it hasn’t quite delivered the fully resolved, gently amusing and engaging drive that it might have been aiming for; and neither, predictably, has it given the Mokka what you might consider a Vauxhall-typical sense of ride comfort or everyday dynamic versatility.

Drivers will find the Mokka’s handling to be respectable, predictable and fail-safe, but enthusiasts won’t find the agility or engagement available in, say, the Ford Puma.

That the Mokka’s steering is particularly light and anodyne at low speeds may make it easy to park and well suited to the typical compact crossover customer, but it’s no great invitation to enjoyment. It actually weights up quite a lot as your speed increases, and so the car generally follows the path you’ve chosen for it obediently enough around town, and has reasonable stability on A-roads and motorways, being more easy to place precisely than you’d first believed it might be.

But the car never quite feels even moderately agile or keen underneath you. Handling response and cornering balance are respectable if underwhelming, with the always-on electronics activating early (although progressively) to counteract understeer before it can build if you go at a bend with any vigour. Which may be fair enough, because Mokka owners probably won’t do that (and some of them might need a little looking after when they do).

But instead of giving the car good close body control and the pleasing sense of energy and poise at speed of something like a Ford Puma, the Vauxhall’s particular suspension tuning often just makes it feel reactive and tetchy when roused and leads it nowhere.

Firm bushing and compression damping make the ride feel a little wooden and under-isolated over sharper inputs, while the lack of rebound control sometimes makes the car threaten to leap out of dips and off the top of fairly gentle crests and transverse ridges. Head toss, although not severe, is a regular factor on uneven surfaces as well.

Vauxhall Mokka comfort and isolation

The Mokka’s driving position offers good visibility to all quarters and is fairly adjustable and well supported.

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Our test car’s driving seat was comfortable and had a good-sized cushion for propping your thighs on, but it didn’t have adjustable lumbar support or cushion extension. Vauxhall offers an upgraded one with a massage function on top-level-trim cars, but whether they’re any more adjustable isn’t made clear.

Massaged or not, you’ll be aware after too long in the front seat that the Mokka isn’t the most settled- or comfortable-riding car in its class.

It isn’t drastically uncomfortable, either, and you might not notice at all around town. But away from urban limits, you don’t need to take an interest in the driving experience to be aware of the repetitive minor disturbance to the general calm of the cabin. You’ll also notice that there’s a fair amount of road surface noise admitted over coarser Tarmac and some wind flutter from around the top of the door seals.

Overall, you still might not consider this an unrefined car in the strictest sense (the in-cabin noise levels we recorded are perfectly respectable), but with sportier versions on larger alloy wheels only likely to penalise ride isolation, the Mokka could certainly do more on this score in order to justify its modest price premium.

Assisted driving notes

Every Mokka gets a crash mitigation and avoidance system operating at low speeds and a lane keeping system as standard. Plump for a mid-spec SRi Nav or Elite Nav Premium model and those are upgraded, the former system operating throughout the whole speed range, and the latter including a switchable Lane Positioning Assistant (albeit only for cars with auto gearboxes).

There’s also a speed limit recognition system, which rarely misses a posted limit. The lane keeping system defaults to ‘on’, but there’s a button to disable it simply and easily. It’s a pretty discreet one, and unless you’re on a winding road, you may not notice it even when it’s operating.

The more interventionist Lane Positioning Assistant is activated separately. It requires only a dead hand on the steering wheel to automatically maintain the car’s position within its motorway lane.

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