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Did Vauxhall's funky new SUV have the outstanding attributes to make it truly stand out?

Why we ran it: To discover if Vauxhall’s revamped compact crossover can excite in a congested class

Month 5Month 4 - Month 3Month 2Month 1 - Prices and specs

Life with a Vauxhall Mokka: Month 5

It looks the part, but has it displayed the real-world substance to underpin that? - 2 February 2022

Of all the cars that have been on my driveway, I’ve yet to have one that sparked quite as much curiosity as the Vauxhall Mokka. That means I’m in a great position to answer our original question: can the firm’s second model under Stellantis ownership stand out and excite in what is quite possibly the most crowded vehicle segment right now?

I won’t give my full conclusion yet (although, spoiler, it’ll be a positive one) but let’s start with the styling. The previous Mokka was rather uninspiring in most departments and had frumpy, bulbous looks. It wasn’t the worst car in the world, but this new, second-generation model is a completely different proposition. Months into my Mokka ‘ownership,' I would still find myself climbing in and thinking: “Yep, that’s still a great- looking car.” Chief sub-editor Kris Culmer, also a custodian of the car, was a fan of the updated styling, too.

On several occasions, interested bystanders came up to me and asked, in a roundabout way, what I liked and loathed about it. I always found there was far more to say about its good points than its bad.

Driving the Mokka was a mostly relaxing experience and our car has certainly been up, down and around. I took it to Yorkshire, Cornwall, Lanarkshire and Perthshire, the very centre of London (after a typical England penalty shootout performance) and just about everywhere in between. Kris took it to Belgium, where it completed the final few of its 7987 miles with the Autocar team at the wheel.

The 1.2-litre turbo petrol engine in our car produced 128bhp and the power delivery was smooth and effortless, traits emphasised by the eight-speed automatic transmission. (A cheaper, six-speed manual is also available.) The Mokka was particularly good on the motorway, where overtaking was never an issue and the adaptive cruise control really came into its own.

Things weren’t quite as impressive on country and urban roads, though. Vibrations in the cabin became more noticeable at slower speeds, especially on pockmarked roads, a characteristic that was probably exacerbated by the 18in wheels fitted to our test car. It was never uncomfortable, although the ride quality felt noticeably rigid in these circumstances. Talking of comfort, there was ample leg and head room up front, the seats felt accommodating and the driving position was decent.

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Our SRi Nav Premium car (now named SRi Premium, if you’re looking to buy one new) was impressively well equipped and injected an extra dose of flair into the Mokka’s exterior appearance. I thought the contrasting red styling accents paired with the Jade White exterior paint (a £325 extra and the only option fitted to our car) were eye-catching without being garish.

Other often used and useful kit in this spec included the digital gauges, sat-nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, parking sensors, electronic handbrake and reversing camera. I was also a big fan of the larger, 10.0in touchscreen (upgraded from the standard 7.0in unit on our spec). It was clear and responsive, if a little unintuitive in some areas such as the DAB radio.

There were, of course, some negatives. The carbonfibre-effect plastic inside was a fingerprint and dust magnet. The digital gauges could also be improved by some additional customisation options.

Those problems were fairly minor, but others caused genuine frustration in day-to-day use. The stop-start system and automatic gearbox simply would not operate in harmony and there was erratic juddering when you came on and off the brakes. This was particularly stressful in traffic as it felt as though I was going to lunge into the back of the car in front. I also had problems with the lane assist, which would drag me across the road in rural areas. So I switched them both off before each journey.

The Mokka also loses points for practicality. It’s manageable for a couple, but if you’re going on a holiday with more than one additional passenger, you’ll struggle to cram suitcases and bags into that 350-litre boot, even with part of the 60/40-split rear seats folded down. Rear leg room is also a bit tight. Most people under 6ft will be fine, but any taller than that and your legs will be pressed uncomfortably against the seats in front. Space is an area where the previous-generation Mokka X has the upper hand.

Ignoring the negatives common to many crossovers, Kris thinks the Mokka shows we’ve entered an era when we might finally see just how good Vauxhall can be. I agree: we should be genuinely excited about its future as (technically) Britain’s last volume brand. This second- generation Mokka proves that and is a significant improvement over the previous model, while the Corsa is earning similar praise and has become the best-selling car in the UK, deposing its Ford Fiesta rival.

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So back to the original question: is Mokka exciting? Well, dynamically, as a pure driver’s car, it falls short of rivals like the Ford Puma, but most buyers won’t mind and, to be honest, neither did I. If you covet a boldly styled compact crossover to stand out, one with all the kit you need to make driving a doddle, the Mokka is an appealing choice and a decent all-rounder. It is not a game-changer, but it has played an important role in kick-starting Vauxhall’s new era and it certainly makes a strong case for itself in a very crowded market.


Long-distance comfort I never dreaded long journeys in the Mokka. It handled motorways with ease and its seats were comfortable.

Engine It sounded sporty through the dual exhausts and was sufficiently fast – and smooth through the gears, too.

Design It’s excellent. Vauxhall’s ‘Vizor’ looks great and the red details on this spec are eye-catching.


Stop-start system It was uncomfortable in stop-start traffic and would lunge forward when I feathered the brakes.

Lane assist This intended safety feature would sometimes pull me across country roads unnecessarily.

Second Opinion

Vauxhalls in my lifetime have always been a bit dull, but now as part of Stellantis the brand has started to make some cool-looking cars, and they drive just like their Peugeot relations, which is to say much better than before. Here’s hoping it continues on this promising trajectory.

Kris Culmer

Final mileage: 7987

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Life with a Vauxhall Mokka: Month 4

If you fancy a small crossover, we must ask: are you Juking? - 1 December 2021

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The arrival at my flat last week of a Nissan Juke triple auto for an online review made for an ideal impromptu twin test against our long-term Vauxhall Mokka triple auto (I would love to know what the neighbours suspect I do for a living).

The Juke is one of the Mokka’s main rivals, having followed in the footsteps of the larger Qashqai by establishing a market niche that very quickly became the exact opposite – in this case, the compact crossover. The first thing that struck me was how both look much better than their predecessors – particularly the Juke, which no longer appears as a bloated frog (and will surely make owners less inclined to permanently leave their foglights on). I also noted that both go for a colour-contrasting style line over their glasshouses, which in either case is an enhancer.

Much was made at the launch of the Juke about the improvement in quality to its interior, and indeed it looks very snazzy here, what with its padded leather covering, orange ambient lighting and Mercedes-aping jet engine-style air vents. Yet in spite of its materials feeling less ‘premium’, I prefer the cockpit of the Mokka. Its Pure Panel dashboard layout – comprising an infotainment touchscreen and an equal-size digital instrument display – is as clear as it is effective, in contrast to the cluttered clusters of its Japanese equivalent.

The Mokka also feels roomier somehow, even though in reality they’re closely matched – I suppose due to the chubbiness of the Juke’s centre console and sports seats.

The Juke fights back, though, with its automatic gear selector and its sound system. The first is superior because it’s a manual ’box-style lever that you simply can’t miss (even more so when it’s encircled in orange at night, like the rim of a volcano), in contrast to the Mokka’s piddly little switch that your fingers have to search about for. And the second is better because this Juke has Nissan’s Bose system, which sounds good (if not great) and, unusually, can give a surround effect, thanks to speakers on the sides of the front headrests.

To drive, the Mokka is noticeably nippier, producing 128bhp versus 112bhp. Yes, there’s a 99bhp version of this engine that more directly competes with that of the Juke, but the point is that Vauxhall offers a choice; Nissan doesn’t.

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The next biggest difference is definitely the steering. Having got used to the light-as-air helm of the Mokka, the meatiness of the Juke surprised me. After all, this Nissan isn’t meant to be a sporty one. Or is it? It also handles a bit more sharply than the Vauxhall and its ride is firmer (but, importantly, not harsh), giving it a more sure-footed feel.

Disappointingly, both cars fall short in regards to their automatic gearboxes (a seven-speed dual-clutcher in the Juke, an eight-speed torque converter in the Mokka). It’s not that they’re dim-witted or jarring when you’re on the move; in fact, they’re perfectly capable. The issue is with low-speed manoeuvring. Trying to follow the parking instructions of the marshal on the Eurotunnel train in the Mokka was thoroughly embarrassing, even with the engine stop-start system switched off; but trying to park the Juke in a parallel bay was downright frustrating.

Have autos always been inept in this way? If so, I’m not remembering correctly. Perhaps it’s due to WLTP test-friendly programming. Either way, give me a good old manual.

Love it:

Pure panel I really like the simple look of the touchscreen (even if its menus can often be unintuitive) and the sat-nav map on the dial display.

Loathe it:

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Box park When I try to slowly and carefully creep forward in order to not hit anything, first gear disengages, so I end up with a series of lurches.

Mileage: 4852

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What an improvement - 10 November 2021

Sorry, Vauxhall, but I’m afraid I must be brutally honest here: the original Mokka was one of the least inspiring cars I’ve driven in nearly six years in this job. But I couldn’t be happier to report that the Mk2 is an entirely different kettle of fish, in terms of how it drives, how it feels inside and, most of all, how very attractive its exterior design is. Already we have much to thank Stellantis for.

Mileage: 4491

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Time to see what its sporting and long-haul credentials are like - 27 October 2021

So far, we’ve established that the Mokka is an economical car, both in its standard driving mode and greener Eco. I’ve dabbled with Sport, but not extensively – so where better to do that than the sweeping rural roads of Yorkshire?

Switching to the Sport driving setting dowses the digital driver’s display with red and adds sharpness to the throttle response. The eight-speed automatic gearbox is slightly more responsive, too. The Mokka is certainly capable on these winding roads. The 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol unit in our car offers 128bhp, which is delivered smoothly enough.

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The Vauxhall isn’t as much fun to drive as a Ford Puma, though. Downshifts are a little slow and it sometimes changes gear automatically when in manual mode, which is annoying. The lightness of its steering – a real asset in town – impedes engagement at higher speed on a challenging road, too. Still, the engine sound enhancement injects an element of entertainment, even if it does sound a bit silly at times.

However, these ‘negatives’ will be relatively insignificant for the Mokka’s target audience – younger families and couples who are unlikely to be looking to blast down the B6255 in the Dales, like I did, to test the driving dynamics of a town-targeted crossover. Instead, they’ll be cruising along taking in the sights of the countryside and the Mokka is excellent at that.

The car’s good all-round visibility meant I had no problem getting a clear view of the eye-catching Ribblehead Viaduct, which was spookily towered over by Whernside. Ride comfort was helped by the reasonable condition of the road, but I experienced a fair bit of road noise, probably exacerbated by those larger, 18in wheels.

What our extensive longer journeys have done is to highlight the benefits of the generous equipment levels in our SRi Nav Premium car, although it’s worth noting that the model range has been simplified, with our trim level now known as SRi Premium.

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A vast amount of techy goodness is included, such as a panoramic rear-view camera, heated front seats, cruise and climate controls and a 10.0in colour touchscreen partnered with a 12.0in digital instrument cluster. My partner and I use it all, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration have made those longer journeys much more bearable. The screen is clear and colourful, but naturally when we fancy a break from our favourite podcasts and playlists, we stick the radio on and the Mokka’s radio is… difficult.

It’s laid out nicely enough, but searching for your favourite station is long-winded and confusing, as is switching from DAB to FM, at which point this particular unit seems to have a mind of its own. I often have to retune the entire system each time I get into the car, and even then it seems to think that my sports radio station of choice simply doesn’t exist, even though it’s listed right there in front of me.

Overall, I’ve been impressed by the Mokka’s extensive overhaul and it has been a welcome return for the UK’s former best-selling model. Crucially, my partner is a big fan.

I’m seeing more Mokkas pop up each day in my local area and I’m very much intrigued to hear the thoughts of my esteemed colleague Kris Culmer, as I rather reluctantly hand the keys over to him.

Love it:

Long-distance ability There’s good all-round visibility, lots of long-haul-friendly kit and no discomfort on extended journeys.

Loathe it:

Lane assist I find its intervention far too aggressive and it has swerved me multiple times into the middle of a country road.

Mileage: 3542

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Life with a Vauxhall Mokka: Month 3

Dirt magnet - 29 September 2021

The Mokka’s centre console looks great – when it’s clean. It’s finished with a glossy black plastic, which seems to attract dust and fingerprints. This isn’t helped by the tiny automatic gear selector or the drive mode button, which is in regular use when I’m out and about. I’ve resorted to keeping a duster in the car at all times.

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Mileage: 3096

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Assessing the practicality of our compact crossover - 22 September 2021

In a summer of mixed emotions with the Mokka, Vauxhall’s latest take on the small crossover has impressed with its style, long-distance comfort and kit levels. Practicality comes next.

I really do like the Mokka, but this is where the model loses some marks. Front head and leg room are both excellent when driving, although I do find myself bashing my left leg against the side of the centre console.

I have more than enough space when travelling alone, but a trip to the south coast with two passengers highlighted the unremarkable boot space. The new Mokka’s 350-litre boot is a similar size to that of its predecessor, and it’s by no means the smallest one on the market. But space is eaten up by the sleek, sloping rear body shape, so the Mokka is beaten by rivals including the Renault Captur, which has 395 litres, and the Seat Arona, with 400 litres.

Storage space was limited with three people, but we just about managed with some luggage Tetris, squeezing two small suitcases into the boot itself with an assortment of other small bags. We reclined two of the three rear seats so we could bring a third suitcase and our beach essentials, and just about managed.

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Those with young children might also struggle. Fitting a pushchair in there could pose a challenge if you’re also transporting luggage or shopping, at which point the larger Crossland might be a better option, with its 410-litre boot. Rear leg room is also limited, and passengers sitting behind tall drivers will want for space. In short, the Mokka struggles with three or more passengers.

But the Mokka isn’t all bad. The adjustable boot floor means you can almost completely remove the load lip. With all three seats folded (albeit not completely flat), capacity increases to 1105 litres.

It’s the age-old question: do compact crossovers offer as much as their lower, more conventional hatchback counterparts? You would think a raised, apparently wider crossover – and it’s not just the Mokka – should offer equal if not improved cabin space. But that width at the wheel tracks is in part an illusion created by a narrowing of the upper half of the body, which eats into interior space. As it is, competitors such as the Volkswagen Golf offer more, with a boot capacity of 380 litres. Opportunities to take further adult passengers can lead to a crammed experience beyond the two front seats, and add in the practicality of today’s small estates and you might be swayed towards a different segment entirely. I’ve got a weekend of cycling planned, so I’m keen to see how the Mokka copes with carrying the extra load.

I’m starting to see more Mokkas appear, so it’s looking like a popular choice. Despite my gripes, it’s coping well as an urban explorer. It has already navigated the narrow streets of Weymouth, York, London and Oxford, and countless towns in between, so it’s clear that a loss in practicality has at least enabled the Mokka to act as a capable car for the city. I think it’s time for some more dynamic driving.

Love it:

Exterior looks The Mokka still catches the eye, and that white paint contrasts well with those black wheels and red SRi-spec trim.

Loathe it:

Shiny interior plastics The plastic gear selector surround attracts dust and fingerprints and looks dirty even a short time after cleaning.

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Mileage: 2763

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Life with a Vauxhall Mokka: Month 2

I can see clearly now - 25 August 2021

The Mokka’s reversing equipment is generous and extensive for this price point. The reversing camera isn’t the clearest but features a useful radar and a panoramic view with four settings, including a 180deg view and a zoom for close shaves. I mostly leave it in auto, which, with front and rear sensors as standard on this trim level, guides my parking nicely.

Mileage: 1499

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Town and country drives reveal the best and worst of our compact crossover - 11 August 2021

Having preached gospel about the Mokka’s styling, it’s time to move on to the mechanicals.

The 129bhp 1.2-litre turbo engine has served well on longer-distance runs and confidently laughs in the face of motorways. At 70mph it’s quiet, composed and comfortable, yet willing to overtake if necessary. Country driving is a mixed bag. It’s still a reasonably comfortable car for the most part, but the low-speed ride is shaky on uneven surfaces – perhaps a consequence of those admittedly great-looking 18in wheels. At least the seats keep you nicely in place.

The Mokka’s automatic gearbox doesn’t take particularly kindly to city traffic. Driving in London is stressful at the best of times, but heavy congestion revealed some juddering from the stop-start system, which I reluctantly switched off to address the issue. Another downside is that the engine management system cuts off the steering assistance far too soon, so you’re unable to direct the wheels until you take your foot off the brake.

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Once the traffic clears, though, the engine is punchy enough. It makes good use of its 169lb ft, which is allied to a pleasing, almost sporty-sounding growl when accelerating. There isn’t much of a difference in Sport mode, but savings can be made in Eco mode. My first real economy drive began with a trip from west Berkshire to south London via Nuneaton, then back to Berkshire for a silly o’clock finish. The Mokka coped better than I did, with a final economy figure of 49mpg, compared with 40mpg-ish on regular day-to-day drives. My passenger was comfortable, too, which is always a bonus.

Inside, its 12.0in digital instrument panel is clear, while the 10.0in infotainment screen is responsive if a little confusing to operate at times. Weirdly, the lack of customisation options for the digital dials has given me a strange sense of range anxiety, even though this is a petrol variant. The range-to-empty figure is only available on one out of seven screen modes, and even then you have to scroll through several options to find it – not ideal when my go-to screen is a nav-based set-up. Despite the graphical fuel gauge, I’m not always 100% sure about how much fuel I have left in the tank.

But that’s just a minor gripe in what, so far, has been an enjoyable ownership experience.

Love it:

Ride comfort The Mokka’s long-distance ride comfort is soft, with low vibration and noise, and comfortable seats.

Loathe it:

Small boot The boot is very much a usable space, but the Ford Puma and Seat Arona offer more load volume.

Mileage: 1244

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Life with a Vauxhall Mokka: Month 1

Stay in your lane - 21 July 2021

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The Mokka’s lane-keeping assistance is useful on motorways and A-roads, but I’m not sure the same can be said for country lanes, where it seems overly keen to correct itself. Often the road isn’t large enough for the level of correction the Mokka wants to give, meaning I have to intervene when there was no issue in the first place. It will stay off for now.

Mileage: 1033

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Definitely a looker - 14 July 2021

A few recent trips out in our Mokka suggest Vauxhall has smashed it out of the park with the Mk2 car’s design. Several people of various ages have approached me to compliment the looks of the SRi Nav Premium car, taken by its red trim, black logo and ‘Mokka’ wording across the back. One couple said they would arrange a test drive, having seen the car in the metal for the first time.

Mileage: 873

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Welcoming the Mokka to the fleet - 7 July 2021

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In a world swarming with compact SUVs, the previous-generation Vauxhall Mokka didn’t do much to stand out from the crowd. Rival crossovers drove better, looked better and were more practical, and that competition has only intensified of late with the launch of cars such as the brilliant Ford Puma and well-rounded Mk2 Nissan Juke.

Nevertheless, the Mokka sold well, and Vauxhall’s head honchos will be hoping the dramatically reinvented second-generation car will build on its success. They’re hardly playing it safe, though: few cars are so far removed from their predecessors. The Mk2 Mokka, its maker’s second new SUV since being bought by the PSA Group (now Stellantis) in 2017, moves across to the EV-capable CMP platform used by the Citröen Citroen C4, DS 3 Crossback, Peugeot 2008 and Vauxhall’s own Vauxhall Corsa.

We’re running it in pure-petrol specification, with a 128bhp turbocharged 1.2-litre engine mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox. But if you’re so inclined, there’s also a 99bhp petrol option or a 1.5-litre diesel to choose from, as well as a six- speed manual. There’s the all-electric Mokka-e, too, running the same 134bhp front-mounted motor and 50kWh battery as the Vauxhall Corsa-e, which we ran for a few months last year.

We’re driving the sporty-looking SRi Nav Premium range-topper, which injects a hint of hot hatch pizzazz into the looks (while leaving the innards untouched) with bespoke 18in alloy wheels, red contrasting trim accents, blacked-out badges and a contrasting black roof. This spec starts from £27,775 and promises an acceptable 0-62mph time of 9.2sec, with an official combined fuel economy of 47.1mpg.

The squat, angular design is heavily inspired by the Vauxhall GT X concept car that was revealed back in 2018 as a harbinger of greater design freedom for future Vauxhall models. It gets the brand’s new Vizor front end, incorporating the Vauxhall badge and front headlights, striking L-shaped LED daytime-running lights and ‘Mokka’ spelled out stylishly across the rear, all of which is aimed at separating the car from its rivals in this saturated segment.

An injection of kerb appeal will also no doubt cultivate custom among younger buyers, who largely steered clear of the old Mokka, but whether the implied dynamism is matched by an engaging driving experience is another matter, and something we will seek to determine.

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Certainly, the nods of approval from neighbours and passers-by suggest that it has some presence, even accounting for the high-street shock factor of brand-new metal. The cabin is no less agreeably appointed, either: Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, heated front seats and adaptive cruise control are all standard, while SRi Nav Premium brings a 10.0in touchscreen over the standard 7.0in one, sat-nav, digital gauges, keyless entry, parking sensors, an electronic handbrake and a reversing camera. A plethora of safety systems, including lane- keeping assistance, adaptive cruise control, stop-start tech and blindspot monitoring is also included.

Vauxhall interiors have faced criticism in recent years (decades, really) for their relative blandness, but here in the top-rung Mokka, at least, comfortable seats, a leather steering wheel, shiny red trim and carbonfibre-effect plastics show that the brand’s new-found passion for daring design goes deeper than the surface.

Vauxhall’s infotainment offering is clear and responsive, too, although only time will tell if it can compete with the impressively rounded systems in its Volkswagen T-Cross rival and 2008 sibling.

The Mokka will need to pick up some utility marks, at least, because you will find better load-lugging ability elsewhere. Our car’s boot capacity comes in at 350 litres even with its adjustable boot floor, compared with the Renault Captur’s 404 litres and the 2008’s 434 litres.

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Out on the road, the dynamic effects of a 120kg weight loss, 125mm length reduction and slightly extended wheelbase are almost immediately evident. I’ve driven the Mokka on a mixture of Berkshire B-roads and some faster A-roads, with a bit of motorway cruising in between, and so far the ride seems well balanced at higher speeds – although, naturally, larger bumps and potholes are felt in the cabin.

As with many compact crossovers, the Mokka isn’t the strongest cornering at speed in its default driving mode. I’ve yet to fully explore Sport mode but am keen to see what the Mokka can do when you ask it to behave like its styling says it can. And while I’ve also yet to properly test the manual shift paddles, the automatic transmission sets off well, and the surprisingly satisfactory 169lb ft punch off the line is made all the more enjoyable by a pleasingly grumbly twin-exit exhaust.

Second Opinion

It will be fascinating to discover whether the Mokka can command as much attention at the end of Jack’s testing as it does right now, while it’s still showroom-fresh. The UK has a seemingly insatiable appetite for design-led compact crossovers, and if Vauxhall’s PCP offers prove as tempting here as they did for the Corsa, I think it could soon become a regular sight on our roads.

Tom Morgan

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Vauxhall Mokka 1.2 Turbo SRi Nav specification

Prices: List price new £27,450 List price now £28,550 Price as tested £27,775

Options:Jade White paint £325

Fuel consumption and range: Claimed economy 47.9mpg Fuel tank 44 litres Test average 42.7mpg Test best 49.1mpg Test worst 34.3mpg Real-world range 413 miles

Tech highlights: 0-62mph 9.2sec Top speed 124mph Engine 3 cyls, 1199cc, turbocharged, petrol Max power 128bhp at 5500rpm Max torque 169lb ft at 1750rpm Transmission 8-speed automatic Boot capacity 350 litres Wheels 18in, alloy Tyres 215/55 R18 Kerb weight 1220kg

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Service and running costs: Contract hire rate £289 CO2 137g/km Service costs None Other costs None Fuel costs £1193 Running costs inc fuel £1193 Cost per mile 15 pence Faults None

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JuliaCooley 21 February 2022

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sabre 21 February 2022

"isacompletelydifferentproposition" - Vauxhall is a british car that is actually a French PSA car known in Germany as Opel. Is this the reason why you write German words here?


scrap 21 February 2022

The previous Mokka was one of the worst cars on sale. This is bang average.

Excited? Nah. It's just another mid size crossover, as mainstream as can be. Who cares?