“Ze Germans are coming, ze Germans are coming!” you’ll have heard Opel South Africa proclaiming since last year. Well, ze Germans are here – the last of them being Opel’s compact SUV, the Mokka. But is the tallest of the new trio as revolutionary and impressive as the ADAM and new Corsa? We set out to find the answer…
Despite being a new model to the local line-up, the Mokka has been around globally since 2012. As such, it’s built on the older General Motors Gamma II platform, and features older generation engines and gearboxes than the ADAM and Corsa do. The interior also feels a touch older than the other two new models – bearing strong resemblance to that of the Astra – with its wrap around dash design, dash-mounted colour infotainment screen, and the same steering wheel, gear lever and stowage bins you’d find in an Astra too.
All locally available Mokka models feature an Astra-familiar engine too – a 1.4-litre turbocharged Ecotec petrol unit churning out 103kW and 200Nm, driving the front wheels via a 6-speed manual gearbox. Despite not featuring any of the newer generation engines the 1.4T unit does a rather fine job of driving the Mokka, providing ample shove, impressive responses, and frugal consumption in a compact package that’s been a proven success in several models in recent years. In the Mokka, this engine features revised internals that allow for greater efficiency thanks to the equipment of start/stop technology – and it all pays off with achieved consumption figures of 6.8l/100km.
The 6-speed manual gearbox has also received some work over previous versions found in the Astra, with particular improvement on the refinement of the shift action – slicker, better greased than ever before – gliding in and out of gear with confidence and precision, and responding to quick shifts with less fuss than before. Despite the extra refinement though, careful consideration of shifts is required to avoid grinding between 1st and 2nd gear – a trait only overcome in the newer 6-speed ‘box found in the ADAM and Corsa. The improvements are welcome though, and the amply weighted shift action and its well-oiled feel add to the air of refinement about the Mokka’s drivetrain.
It’s a refinement carried over to other aspects of the Mokka’s experience. The raised ride height is accompanied by a lovely pliant suspension that absorbs large bumps happily as it rolls along the roadway. But whilst large bumps are dealt with impressively, vibrations seem to find their way into the Mokka’s cabin all too easily on tarmac, permeating the otherwise supremely comfortable and refined cabin. This fault doesn’t unsettle the ride though – only making for additional sensations felt through the floor and the pedals. Surprisingly, this is a trait only displayed on tar, as on dirt roads the Mokka absorbs rippling imperfections with aplomb; soaking up corrugations into a silky smooth ride where others would falter.
The Mokka’s composure is a highly impressive trait. It’s a recurring theme to the SUV’s persona, echoed again in its steering setup – which is direct in its nature whilst remaining communicative and controllable at all times. Despite the tall nature of the vehicle – it is a very tall vehicle in its class – it resists body roll and understeer impressively well, although torque steer is an oft-encountered menace under heavier throttle loads which unsettles the steering and handling balance somewhat. But this apart, the Mokka feels light on its feet and easily controllable – bearing its 1345Kg mass happily.
However while the Mokka is a highly capable vehicle, impressively handling its height and weight, and making the most of its revised mechanicals, it seems to lack its own unique character. Whereas other compact SUV’s have character and unique personalities, the Mokka seems a bit bland – impressive yet sterile – while costing potential buyers a fair amount – R288 500 in Enjoy guise with a manual gearbox.
To offset this, the Mokka comes generously equipped, even in its cheapest variant. 17-inch alloy wheels are standard fair, equipped with 215/60 profile tyres. On the inside Opel has equipped, as standard, a radio system with CD, USB, auxiliary and Bluetooth inputs, a tyre pressure monitoring system, climate control, cruise control, electric windows, heated electronically adjustable mirrors, ISOFIX child seat anchors, front fog lamps, and safety equipment including 6 airbags, ABS with EBD, and traction control with ESP. But at 290 odd thousand Rand, leather upholstery would have been welcome instead of the standard cloth seats.
Opel has launched the Mokka into a hotly contested segment of the market, but has positioned the SUV as a more premium product than rivals such as the Nissan Juke and Ford EcoSport. But as previously mentioned, it lacks the character of some of these rival models, and on the looks front the Mokka is somewhat of a let down compared to the rest of its stable mates. It makes up for these flaws with an extensive kit list and impressive safety ratings though, and the turbocharged engine sets it apart with a strong, refined drivetrain that leaves competitors found wanting. The Mokka is however only available in front-wheel drive configuration – which does put it at risk against similarly priced, sized and specced rivals such as Suzuki’s SX4 which do offer 4WD systems as an alternative to the FWD setup.
But despite its flaws and possible holes in its armour, the Mokka covers its bases by doing all it does with aplomb. It feels solidly screwed together, has more than enough power, and is refined as well as frugal. Perhaps a tiny bit expensive, the Mokka will be looked over by buyers looking for greater value for money; but as an extension to the Opel model line up it does an exemplary job in showcasing what the manufacturer s capable of. It’s not quite as revolutionary as the ADAM or Corsa, but it’s an impressive vehicle nonetheless.
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103kW @ 4900-6000RPM
200Nm @ 1850-4900RPM
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