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Vauxhall Mokka

The Vauxhall Mokka has ridden a bit of a rocky road since its debut two years ago. Early criticisms about its poor ride and indifferent handling were swiftly tackled to rectify the problem, by modifying the suspension and changing the damping for the UK market. Although not particularly well regarded by some pundits, the car has sold pretty successfully and carved out its own little niche amongst rival compact crossovers. And now here it is with a new engine to perk its appeal.
The 1.6-litre, so-called 'Whisper', diesel engine is at the heart of this Mokka. It will replace the old and notoriously gruff 1.7 litre CDTi unit, adds an extra 5bhp, and is targeted at widening the Mokka's appeal. Nice idea, except that 'whisper' is definitely overstating it, and although the new 134bhp engine is an improvement, it doesn't transform a car that certainly couldn't be called best-in-class. The car pulls quite well through the gears, cruises at motorway pace with the revs sitting below 2,000rpm, and is not short on torque for a 1.6-litre unit, with a peak figure of 236 lb ft.
Steering feel is quite numb, but the weighting is well-judged, and the car is easy to haul through traffic and into urban parking spaces. What still lets the Mokka down, and a new engine can do nothing to transform that, is its lacklustre ride and handling behaviour.
With its relatively short wheelbase and tallish height, the car has a bit of a gangly gait on the bends, and doesn't take particularly kindly to being hustled along a twisty country road. Then there is the ride quality, which tends towards harshness and is not helped by the bigger wheels that come with the Limited Edition trim of the test car.
On arch-filling 19-inch alloys - good for looks, but bad for ride quality - the Mokka has a lumpen gait over anything but a millpond-smooth road surface, and feels decidedly knobbly over a country B-road. Cabin quality is quite reasonable, although it couldn't be called plush. All-round vision is pretty good, and although it is quite snug for kneeroom in the back, there is no shortage of headroom all round.
It is quite an upright driving position, and over a distance it is not as comfortable as some of its rivals. Boot room is decidedly average at 362 litres with the rear seats in place, and quite generous at 1,372 litres when they are folded down. This is not a budget-priced car, with a list price of over £21,000, and that does not even include satellite navigation, though strangely the £3,235 cheaper Tech Line model does.
This Limited Edition model is more about looks and apart from the larger alloy wheels, previously mentioned, there's special paint, a black roof and door mirrors, privacy glass and chunky sports seats. Parking sensors front and rear, automatic headlights and wipers, Bluetooth mobile phone connectivity and DAB digital radio are standard on all versions of the Mokka, but most buyers will be better off opting for the Tech Line model and selecting some wellchosen goodies from the options list instead.
With its new diesel engine the Mokka is improved, but the on-road experience doesn't live up to the 'whisper' diesel hype of this new 1.6-litre engine. The car has some fundamental characteristics that do not endear it to a keen driver, although the Griffin badge, good economy and the chummy styling will probably ensure its continuing popularity.

Model tested Limited Edition 1.6 CDTi 16v
Price £21,364
Made in Zaragoza, Spain
Configuration 5-door crossover, 5-seats, front-wheel-drive
Drivetrain 1598cc, 4-cylinder, 16-valve, turbocharged diesel with stop-start
Transmission 6-speed manual
Power output 134bhp @ 3,500-4,000rpm
Maximum torque 236lb ft @ 2,000-2,250rpm
Top speed/0-62mph 119mph/9.3 secs
CO2 emissions (tax band) 114g/km (C) Euro 6
Economy (urban/extra urban/combined) 58.9/70.6/65.7mpg
Fuel tank size/range 54 litres/781 miles
Insurance group/BIK rate 15/18%
Size (length/width with mirrors) 4,278/2,038mm
Boot space (minimum/maximum) 362/1,372 litres
Kerb/max towing weight 1,415/1,500kg

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