A surprise hit for Vauxhall, the Mokka X is winning many fans in the British brand’s dealers. The ‘X’ signifies this is the facelifted version of a car first launched in 2012: initial reviews were lukewarm because the car felt unfinished, but Vauxhall has polished it over the years and taught Ford a thing or two in the process. Bored of Astra-like cars? Let the Mokka X se… er, spice up your life.
Did you know? The Vauxhall Mokka X is also sold in the United states, as the Buick Encore. Over there, it’s also been a bit of a sales hit.
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The Vauxhall Mokka X isn’t the best crossover all-rounder out there, but it seems to have hit the nail on the head in terms of customer appeal. In revised ‘X’ guise, it looks good, is well-stocked with equipment, has a roomy interior and boasts a cutting-edge infotainment system. The drive is more average, active safety kit could be better and the pricing structure seems a bit odd, but choose carefully and you can still get a model that you’ll find a perfectly acceptable – and more interesting – alternative to an Astra family hatch. Just remember, it’s a bit bigger than its small crossover rivals, so will cost you a little bit more up front. This is still something that a clever dealer with a finance calculator and some manufacturer incentives in their pocket should be able to minimise, though…
Design & Exterior
Interior & Comfort
Technology & Connectivity
Performance & Handling
Spec & Trim Levels
Running Costs & Fuel Economy
Spacious interior for a relatively compact crossover
Excellent infotainment and connectivity tech
Appearance lifted by Mokka X facelift
We Don’t Like
Interior is rather plain
Remains rather average to drive
So-so petrol engine economy
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Design & Exterior: (7/10)
The Mokka is an in-betweener crossover, sitting mid-way between a Nissan Juke and Qashqai. At launch, some thought it sat in no-man’s land, but sales have disproved that; besides, being slightly taller and longer than rivals such as the Peugeot 2008 and Renault Captur does have its advantages. The Mokka X carries a bit more presence than those cars, sitting occupants a bit higher and giving them more of a commanding feel on the road.
The Mokka X facelift is surprisingly successful. The previous Mokka was a bit plain, for all its SUV cues; the X brings a distinctive set of LED running lights and a much smoother, neater front end that includes an SUV-style metal-look skid plate beneath the front bumper. With new lights at the rear and some subtle upgrades to plastic and chrome trim, it’s surprisingly successful and certainly makes the Mokka X feel fresher in showrooms, even if the rather boxy profile and upright, slightly narrow-looking profile still remains.
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Interior & Comfort: (6/10)
Vauxhall has lifted the interior as well, this time through the addition of a crisp new IntelliLink touchscreen in the centre of the dash. It forms a modern centrepoint to an otherwise rather plain and old-fashioned dashboard: all the buttons on the centre console contrast with the simpler, cleaner appearances of more modern cars. It’s a little too ‘bitty’ to be truly cohesive, and the plastics are a bit on the shiny side. The leather-look covering on the top bit, with double-stitched seams, does bring a touch of class though.
The Mokka X has a slightly dated driving position, feeling more upright and less car-like than more modern SUVs. You feel a teeny bit perched behind the wheel, although you also feel confident and enjoy good visibility down upon normal cars, which is nice. Seats are nicely bolstered, in the Vauxhall tradition, the steering wheel adjusts four ways, and there’s even a centre armrest on all trim levels. Some find the handbrake a bit awkward, though: the handle is oddly shaped and the release button is on the top of the handle, not the end of it.
The Mokka X’s extra millimetres on the outside pay dividends on the inside. It’s very roomy by sector standards, with ample rear space even for lankier teens: they’ll feel more cramped in the back of a 2008 or Captur. Pity the rear seats aren’t smarter, though: it’s a basic fixed bench, without any sort of recline or slide functionality (unlike the Renault Captur, for example), and even the 60:40 split seat back is awkward to use – you have to flip up the seat base first.
On paper, boot space is a bit so-so with the seats up: 356 litres is less than a Volkswagen Golf (or Vauxhall Astra). It’s a well-designed space though, with clean dimensions and a squared-off layout, and there’s no awkward sill to lift items over, either. Fold the seats and things become more impressive, with 1305 litres of space bettering an average supermini by a good 300 litres. Shame it’s so awkward to do this.
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Technology & Connectivity: (10/10)
Here’s where the new Mokka X steals a lead. It’s equipped with the latest ‘R4.0’ Vauxhall IntelliLink infotainment system which, even in the base model, uses a crisp 7.0in colour touchscreen. It’s jam-packed with connectivity functions: USB with iPod control, Aux socket, Bluetooth with Audio streaming, hands-free telephone controlled through the steering wheel buttons, built-in microphone and access to your smartphone contacts via the car’s screens.
Both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone interface are included as well, meaning the lack of sat nav isn’t so much of an issue. If you do need built-in navigation, upgrade to the ‘Navi 900’ IntelliLink system, which has a larger 8.0in touchscreen, 3D sat nav mapping and full European coverage. It’s standard on Decin Nav and a lb710 option on base Active; both systems play audio through six speakers and have steering wheel controls.
Significantly, OnStar functionality is built in as well. This is Vauxhall’s remote concierge service – press a button, ask a (real) operator to find a pub in a small village in Cirencester, and they’ll both locate it and then (if you have a ‘Nav’ model) wire the sat nav instructions straight to your car. Ingenious. OnStar also includes a wifi hotspot – connectivity the kids will love – plus a smartphone app and a potentially lifesaving automatic crash response system, which can even locate your car and automatically alert emergency services if you’re too injured to escape.
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Performance & Handling: (5/10)
Early Mokkas were not quite finished when the press first drove them. They were unrefined and disappointing. Things have improved over time, particularly with this facelift, but the Mokka X still doesn’t do any better than average here. It’s safe enough but pretty forgettable to drive, and the ride is not quite as cultured as you’d hope from a largish crossover: you’ll soon notice the surface irritations from the road if you pick bigger wheel options.
On the engine front, there’s an entry-level 1.6-litre that you should avoid entirely unless price is everything: it’s noisy, hard work and uneconomical. The 1.4-litre turbo is better: it’s still not outstanding, but its greater pulling power makes it easier and more pleasant to drive. Better still is the 1.6-litre turbodiesel, offered in 110hp or 136hp guise. It’s pricier, but drivability, economy, refinement (save from a bit of gruff acceleration clatter) and overall appeal are all much higher. It’s lb1600 more than a 1.4 turbo and we advise you find any way you can to take at least a 110hp diesel over the petrol. And the 136hp version is then only lb400 more…
Most Mokka X are sold in front-wheel drive guise, but Vauxhall also offers four-wheel drive versions of higher-power engines. It’s a system that works quietly in the background to aid traction, and can be useful on wintry or wet roads, and even on mud-covered country back roads. It’s a handy real-world safety aid, although there is an impact on fuel economy and emissions if you choose a 4×4. Vauxhall also offers an automatic gearbox: the economy hit with the petrol model is mild with petrol, but significant with diesel.
Recommended engine: 1.6 CDTi 136 FWD
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Safety Features: (7/10)
The previous Vauxhall Mokka scored really well when tested by Euro NCAP back in 2012, albeit to standards a little less strict than they are today. For adult occupant protection, it was rated at 96%, with 90% for child occupant protection. Safety assist features scored a full-house 100%, which sounds impressive, but that’s unlikely to be the case today: back then, features such as a speed limiter and seatbelt reminder won points, but Euro NCAP is more strict today.
Even in its latest Mokka X guise, Vauxhall’s crossover lacks any form of autonomous emergency braking, either standard or optional. There are no active cruise control systems or lane-keep assist function, nor a driver monitor system. The stability control system does offer hill descent control in 4×4 models though, for safer off-roading, and cruise control with speed limiter is standard on all, allowing drivers to set a speed limit that they can’t accidentally exceed. Standard front and rear parking sensors on every trim line are also a handy real-world safety aid.
A small standout is the inclusion of high beam assist on all Mokka Xs. This allows you to pull the main beam stalk on dark roads and then not have to cancel it when you see an oncoming car: the system automatically dips the headlights when it detects lights, then puts full beam on again when they’ve passed.
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Specs and Trim Levels: (8/10)
Unlike some small crossovers that are trying to be sobre-suited mini Range Rover alternatives, Vauxhall offers a really bright and vibrant range of colours with the Mokka X. Not if you take the sole standard colour, mind: Royal blue is a particularly mundane hue. But for just lb285, you can upgrade to solid Summit white or Lava red, two punchy colours that look great with the LED-illuminated Mokka X front end.
There are some lovely metallics. Sovereign silver, Mineral black and Quantum grey are for those who don’t want to stand out so much, but Velvet red, Amaretto, Boracay blue and the fantastic Amber orange all easily justify the lb500 option cost – Amber orange is the one you see in all the ads, and it looks brilliant. There’s also a fancy tri-coat metallic called Abalone white, which really does sparkle but costs lb725.
Praise be, Vauxhall has kept things simple with the Mokka X, with three really appealing trim lines: no one really seems short-changed, not even the entry-level Active. Even this has a big 7in IntelliLink touchscreen infotainment system with Vauxhall OnStar and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity, plus dual-zone climate control, big 18in alloys, LED running lights, rain-sensing windscreen wipers and electric-fold door mirrors. You even get a leather steering wheel: quite a haul indeed.
Mid-range Design Nav upgrades the infotainment to an 8in screen with sat nav, add more chrome detailing on the outside, but really that’s about it. Elite Nav has immediate showroom appeal because of its brilliant leather-covered sports seats, which are more bolstered than the standard chairs; they’re also heated, as is the steering wheel. The range-topper also adds dark-tint rear glass and a rear seat armrest.
Size and Dimensions
At 4275 mm, the Mokka is bigger than the typical small crossover. It’s also rather a lot taller, at 1658 mm including roof rails, and width of 1780mm is borderline mid-size car rather than small crossover. This extra size for your money boosts interior space but should also be considered if you’re comparing it to other crossovers: perhaps for this reason, Vauxhall includes front and rear parking sensors as standard, to give you a fighting chance in the city…
Max towing weight without brake
500kg (all engine variants)
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Running Costs & Fuel Economy: (7/10)
Fuel economy of the cheapest 1.6-litre petrol engine is dreadful. 42.2mpg just doesn’t make sense these days, and CO2 emissions of 155g/km are also too high. Simply by switching to the faster, nicer 1.4-litre turbo, you can improve economy by almost 5 mpg; 47.1mpg still isn’t brilliant when compared to its rivals, but it’s less appaling, given the extra punch of the engine.
Diesel is far better. A basic 110hp version can do 72.4mpg, according to the official figures, and emits 103g/km CO2. Move up to the 136hp and it still cracks the 70mpg mark, with 105g/km CO2 emission. Even the full-fast 136hp 4×4 will do 60.1mpg and emit 124g/km CO2.
Reliability and servicing
The Vauxhall Mokka has scored reasonably well in recent Driver Power surveys, sitting further up the table than some other Vauxhalls. The firm hopes the Mokka X upgrades can continue this improving reliability record; remember, this is now a global car, so there’ll have been a huge amount of in-service data at engineers’ disposal while working on the revisions.
All Mokka X have a service due indicator, and a clever oil life monitor that calculates the percentage of life remaining in the engine oil: this varies according to your driving style. It is displayed in the screen between the dials on startup (or in the MyVauxhall smartphone app). Service intervals reflect this: they’re either one year or 20,000 miles – if you do lots of miles in a short space of time, the oil is worked less hard.
12 months or 20,000 miles (whichever is sooner)
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Entry-level prices for the Mokka X top lb18,000, which is around lb2000 more than basic versions of rivals such as the Renault Captur and Peugeot 2008. Taking a 1.4 turbo instead of that horrible 1.6 is around lb650 on top of that. This seems alarming, but becomes less so once you spec-match: those rivals’ entry versions are basic versions that few people buy, and the Mokka X is very well-stocked even in Design Nav guise.
Curiously, the ‘mid-spec’ Design Nav is lb2000 cheaper than the ‘entry-level’ Active, despite coming with the upgraded sat nav infotainment system as standard. We can’t quite work out why this is so, but it’s worth bearing in mind – don’t simply turn to the first page of the Mokka X price brochure and rule it out because of apparent entry-level list prices that exceed lb20,000: turning the page opens up the lb18k mid-range car…
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Design Nav – A better infotainment system with standard sat nav, for lb2k less than the basic car – go figure…
Company Car Buyer
Design Nav 1.6 CDTi 136 – You really need the faster 136hp engine over the 110hp base diesel: RRP is lb400 more so the extra lease cost will be negligible
Elite Nav – the seats in the Elite Nav really are terrific. They’re heated, leather clad and have wonderful adjustable bolsters in the base. Genuine luxury
Vauxhall offers the able Mokka X: Britain’s biggest car brand, Ford, has the ugly and substandard Ecosport. Guess which sells best…
Popular and elegant-looking small Peugeot crossover is proving a strong-selling alternative to the 208 supermini
Popular and stylish-looking small renault crossover is proving a strong-selling alternative to the Clio supermini
Popular and understated-looking small Honda crossover is proving a strong-selling alternative to the Jazz supermini… you get the idea
You could get a decent (and larger) Sportage for the price of a basic Mokka X… it’s excellent value, and it’s a corking car to boot
What others say
“The Vauxhall Mokka X crossover looks good and has plenty of standard kit, but it’s not the most fun to drive.”
“The Vauxhall Mokka X is stylish and well equipped, but its rivals have it beaten in a number of key areas.”