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SECTOR: Crossover PRICE: €18,990 – €26,820 RANGE: 4.5 – 6.4l/100km CO2: 120 – 149g/km
Of Opel’s recent newcomers, Mokka has perhaps the most logical name. Rather like the menu board at your nearest upmarket coffee house, satisfying the modern car buyer means offering as much choice as possible and sometimes finding wants and needs even the end user didn’t know they had.
The B-segment crossover is the latest niche manufacturers are getting excited about. It’s a sector where most mainstream marques will be launching new products in the near future, and predicted to grow rapidly as it steals sales from conventional hatches, larger crossovers and small MPVs.
Nissan got this sector moving with the Qashqai, which continues to sell in high volumes thanks to its low CO2 engines, high practicality and SUV driving position, and pushed the crossover set into a new niche with the Juke. Opel has sized the Mokka to fit neatly between the two.
Beneath the bodywork is a stretched version of the latest Chevrolet Aveo platform, also due to underpin the next Corsa, which is shared with the forthcoming Chevrolet Trax which is built on the same production line in South Korea. Mokka gets its own, arguably better looking, bodywork but isn’t unique to Europe. North America will get a lightly modified version badged as the Buick Encore.
There are plentiful differences under the skin, though. Chevrolet and Opel use entirely different suspension settings, and even Vauxhall has a UK-specific chassis setup to cater for British roads and drivers. The softer Continental European chassis, which has a stronger tendency to pull the steering to dead centre, was the only one available to test at the launch.
Opel has the better cabin, compared to the Chevrolet. Interior quality range-wide has improved dramatically over the last five years, and Mokka features the same glossy panels in the dashboard and door cards as the Ampera, which feels modern and upmarket. There’s plentiful room in the front and rear, helped by the high roofline, but the rising beltline results in a large blind spot.
For drivers, though, the dashboard is ultimately let down by its cluttered instrument panel. There are far too many buttons around the infotainment system, and it’s not always obvious what each one does. Many manufacturers are migrating to touchscreens or rotary controllers similar to BMW’s iDrive system, and as with most cars in its range Opel could benefit from following suit to keep drivers’ eyes on the road.
Engines comprise an entry-level 1.6-litre and 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol, available with two or four wheel drive respectively, while the 1.7 CRDi diesel is offered with optional four-wheel-drive and the choice of manual or automatic transmissions. The diesel will be the biggest seller with fleets, with CO2 emissions as low as 120g/km, and it’s the better of the higher-powered units to drive. Although the 1.4 Turbo is more powerful, it can feel a bit blunt.
Mokka feels as solid and Germanic as its bulky styling suggests it might. It’s not as agile as a Corsa or Astra, but there’s little body roll for such a high-sided vehicle and refinement is almost on par with C-segment models at motorway speeds.
Ultimately this is likely to be more of a user-chooser option than a core fleet offering like the Astra or Insignia, but its downsized muscular styling should make it popular with lifestyle-focused buyers. But, much like the drink it’s named after, there will soon be plenty of choices if you’re in the market for this particular blend of coffee.
Mokka enters an established market but is still early enough to beat most competitors. Solid styling and optional four-wheel drive may tempt user-choosers out of an Astra.
06 Feb 2013 09:00