With new offerings arriving on the market on an almost monthly basis, the compact crossover segment is quickly becoming a crowded place. Opel’s offering, the Mokka, was recently added to the mix and adds to the confusion – size-wise it not only straddles the B (Renault Captur, Nissan Juke etc.) and C (Hyundai ix35, Toyota RAV4) segments, but also attempts to offer technologies and features typically packaged into pricier and bigger vehicles, into a slightly more affordable, and more compact body. Is it trying to sit on too many chairs?
Compact and muscularThe Opel Mokka was first launched in Europe in 2012, so in reality is half-way through its lifecycle already. Nevertheless, it is an attractive vehicle with compact, muscular styling that is enhanced by the generous specification of this Cosmo variant – striking 18-inch wheels are standard, for example. Interestingly, it's not based on the Corsa, as most people would assume, but uses the General Motors Gamma II platform that also underpins the Chevrolet Sonic. Chevrolet itself offers a very similar vehicle called the Trax, which is unlikely to come to South Africa for obvious reasons.
Perhaps as a result of its platform age, the Mokka’s dimensions seem slightly out of step with the latest market arrivals. Although not much shorter than most rivals, it has a higher and narrower body. Most concerning, however, is the wheelbase, which at 2 555 mm appears to be very stubby and could impact on rear legroom.
Happily, the relatively compact dimensions have not resulted in what can be labelled a cramped cabin, even though cabin width is noticeably less than some rivals. Opel’s interior designers have fitted the seats quite high for that towering SUV feel, and this has consequently created quite a lot of foot space for rear passengers. The boot is claimed to swallow a handy 356 L-worth of luggage, and can be expanded to 785 L by folding the rear seats down. Interestingly, my usual test equipment (a three-wheeled urban stroller pram) couldn't fit in lengthwise as the boot was too short. The Mokka's boot is, however, quite deep.
Besides the low-profile tyres, other hints at the Mokka’s tar-road bias include a space-saver spare wheel and relatively limited ground clearance (for a crossover/SUV).
Sophisticated, upmarket featuresWithin the snug cabin, Opel has crammed a very long list of standard equipment. More of that later… The first thing that will catch you eye is the quality. Opel has made much of its premium ambitions in the past few years, and the results are very obvious in the Mokka. There’s a real quality look and feel to the trim materials, including the shiny bits, and the plastics and leather surfaces are soft to the touch where needed. We drove the Mokka on some very poor surfaces, too, and there was not a rattle or squeak to be heard.
A slight negative, however, are the ergonomics. As the Mokka is of a slightly older design, the facia is littered with buttons and some of those are very small too. It therefore takes a while to familiarise oneself with all the features (there are so many). On the other hand, the fitment of a properly up-to-date IntelliLink infotainment system, which allows the Mokka to connect to Apple iOS and Android smartphones, is a major boon.
Other highlights include heated front seats, park assist, cruise control and even a heated steering wheel. The seats, by the way, are superb, offering manual height adjustment as well as electric lumbar and cushion length adjustment.
As befits a near-premium SUV of this price, the Mokka Cosmo offers a comprehensive suite of safety features, including six airbags, ABS/EBD, ESP (electronic stability programme), automated high-beam lighting control, Isofix child seat anchorages and hill-start assist. No surprise then, that the Opel Mokka achieved a full five stars in EuroNCAP crash testing.
Relaxed performerPowering the Mokka is Opel’s trusty 1,4-litre turbocharged petrol engine that delivers 103 kW and 200 Nm of torque. The engine is mated with a six-speed automatic transmission that drives the front wheels. The engine offers good theoretical flexibility, as the torque is available from 1 850 to 4 000 rpm. On the road the Mokka is indeed an enthusiastic sprinter, and should be nippier in most circumstances than its rivals from Mitsubishi and Nissan, which both offer less torque and CVTs (continuously variable transmissions).
In normal driving, there is precious little to complain about. It is only when a more hurried approach is adopted that some irritations become noticeable. When the throttle is pushed to the floor, the transmission can be a little slow at times to react, and when it does it generally sends the revs soaring by selecting too low a gear. You can shift manually, if you want to of course, but the shift button is awkwardly placed on the side of the gearknob…
Then again, this car isn’t aimed at boy-racers and most owners will find its blend of performance and tractability sufficient. In terms of fuel economy it also puts in a solid effort, with the claimed combined cycle consumption figure of 6.6 L/100 km only slightly bested by the rival Nissan Qashqai. During our testing, however, we achieved a real consumption average of around 8 L/100 km – still good.
Sporty drivePartly due to its compact dimensions, but also impacted by a relatively firm suspension set-up and the low-profile tyres, the Mokka feels stable and planted on the road, even when said road becomes twisty. We wonder, however, whether most owners wouldn’t appreciate a slightly more forgiving ride, especially at low speeds and on poorer surfaces. The Nissan Qashqai, for example, offers a superior quality of ride.
On a longer trip with four passengers and a packed boot, the Mokka performed better than expected. The cabin is a quiet and comfortable place, with especially wind and road noise being blocked out well. And with the extra weight on board the ride also seemed more forgiving.
Conclusion and SummaryThe Mokka is not a cheap vehicle and its price puts it among bigger rivals that on paper may appear to offer better value for money. But the Mokka is not a top seller in Europe without reason... The cabin is cleverly packaged to offer a blend of comfort, features, technology and quality that most rivals will struggle to match. It also offers a very appealing warranty/service plan combination and handsome looks. Although some families may find it a bit too compact, we think it will do well as an offering that appeals in equal measure to the head and the heart.
Opel Mokka 1.4T Cosmo Automatic Price in South AfricaThe Opel Mokka 1,4T Cosmo Automatic costs R335 500 and comes with a five-year/120 000 km warranty, five-year/90 000 km service plan and five year/unlimited km roadside assistance.
Opel's Mokka is a great vehicle which slots in nicely between the likes of Ford's EcoSport and the bigger and pricier Hyundai IX35. I did like the build quality, as well as the intuitive infotainment system. Mated to one of General Motors' trusty small capacity turbo motors the Opel Mokka has sufficient grunt to get around town while not consuming unreasonable amounts of gas – David Taylor
We Like: Quality, standard features, Info-tainment system
We don’t Like: Ergonomics
Also consider: Mitsubishi ASX, Nissan Qashqai