MOTORS REVIEW: Vauxhall Mokka X

New entries face stiff competition!

VAUXHALL has begun an assault on the SUV sector which will see the introduction of two new models in 2017 as it aims to duplicate the success of its now well-established Mokka.

The Crossland X was launched just last month and later this year the brand will introduce the new, larger Grandland X to its line-up.

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Despite a “Mokka X” makeover and rebrand last year the Luton-based brand’s existing entrant into a hyper-competitive part of the segment which boasts the current World Car of the Year and Rotherham Advertiser Car of the Year, the Peugeot 3008, Nissan’s Qashqai and the Kia Sportage appears to have its work cut out.

Subtle changes to the front end of Vauxhall’s most established SUV have worked well, but the rear looks over familiar and a little dated now and against such striking rivals this could have seen it falter in terms of showroom appeal.

Sales of over 11,000 Mokka Xs suggest otherwise, though, and I was keen to see where Vauxhall’s offering is packing its biggest punches.

At £25,630 the Mokka X Elite 1.6CDTi FWD is not necessarily the sweet spot in a range which starts at a competitive £18,455 which sees it undercut the entry level Qashqai by some £400 and the 3008 by a whopping £4,000.

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Thankfully, standard fayre on the Vauxhall is plentiful at this level.

An updated interior, ushered in with the Mokka X make-over, delivers a swooping dashboard design, leather trimmed seats (heated in the front) and touches of faux aluminium and gloss black trim.

It doesn’t come close to the drama of the Peugeot’s space-age cockpit — with a much more budget-oriented starting price I’d expect that to be the case — and lacks a little in terms of material quality over the Nissan and Kia, but it certainly remains on the pace.

Comfortable seats with plenty of adjustment and a dashboard de-cluttered from the Vauxhall’s of old thanks to the seven-inch touchscreen of the R4.0 IntelliLink infotainment system are nice touches — as is an attractive and nicely sculpted multi-function steering wheel.

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IntelliLink not only includes Apple CarPlay and Mirrorlink smartphone connectivity and the now usual Bluetooth phone and music connectivity, but also links to Vauxhall’s excellent OnStar.

This is a huge selling point for Vauxhall in my book.

Delivering web access via a wifi hotspot for the vehicle’s occupants is ideal for those, like me, who stream their music from the internet.

But OnStar will also provide a concierge service via a link direct to a Vauxhall control room, allow you to send sat-nav routes from your phone to the car, provide vehicle diagnostics on your phone or computer and allow you to locate your car — even prompting it to honk a horn or flash lights to help in a busy car park.

Also included in the Elite specification is cruise control, dual zone climate control along with LED daytime running lights and 18-icnh alloys to spice up the exterior styling.

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The well-equipped cabin offers plenty of headroom and delivers as much interior space as you are likely to find in this category.

In terms of boot space the Vauxhall is lacking, though, with just 356 litres. This sees it lag well behind the Peugeot (591 litres), Kia (503) and even the fairly diminutive-looking Nissan (430).

For a family, a small boot could be a big consideration.

In front-wheel-drive guise — AWD adds around £1,800 — the 134bhp 1.6-litre turbodiesel engine tested here in the Mokka claims 65.7mpg fuel consumption and 114g/km CO2 emissions, which compares well to similarly powered rivals.

With claimed acceleration to 62mph in 9.3 seconds and a 118mph top speed it’s also in the running on performance and delivers fairly relaxed progress around town and on a B-road.

Other elements of the Mokka X impress a little less.

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Suspension that feels initially more compliant than that of many firmly sprung rivals can get a little flustered over the kind of persistently undulating or broken tarmac that can be commonplace in Rotherham, the suspension not always settling as quickly as might be hoped.

Overly light steering further hampered a sense of connection and precision at the helm and, overall, refinement lagged a little behind the best in class.

Wind noise around the A-pillars was noticeable at higher speeds.

The Mokka X has been a success for Vauxhall and it’s clear to see that it has benefited from a boom in the SUV sector.

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The brand’s familiar name and a culture which sees its dealers able to deliver extremely competitive offers have undoubtedly played their part, though.

As much as I continue to be impressed by the OnStar connectivity system and found the Mokka to be well-equipped and fairly economical to run, it is hard to ignore the sheer breadth of talent it is up against in the segment.

Peugeot’s 3008 is still the front-runner in a class boasting vast depth.

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