The Vauxhall Mokka is a new small SUV that's designed to take sales from the Nissan Qashqai and Skoda Yeti.
We tested the car a few weeks ago and were quite critical of how it drove. However, Vauxhall has since made some revisions to the steering and suspension, and has also worked on improving refinement.
The question is, are these changes enough to change our view?
What's the 2013 Vauxhall Mokka like to drive?
Previously, one of the big problems was the Mokka's steering; it was unnervingly slow to load up when you turned in to a bend, and was inconsistently weighted when it finally did so.
That's no longer such an issue. The weighting is now more immediate and consistent, and the steering is also pretty responsive. It's not the most satisfying set-up you'll ever try, but it does what you tell it and doesn't take you by surprise.
The ride, too, has been improved. Previously, the Mokka crashed over big bumps and potholes, but felt decidedly floaty on undulating roads.
Both characteristics have been toned down noticeably, but not completely eradicated. The car still fidgets on less-than-perfect surfaces – especially at low speeds – while there's still a little floatiness over dips and crests.
However, the Mokka is certainly more composed than it was, and the suspension keeps the body upright through tight twists and turns.
Refinement has been improved by new door seals that better isolate the cabin from wind noise. There's still a bit to be heard, though, along with some road noise – especially on coarse surfaces.
The four-wheel-drive system sends all power to the front wheels in most conditions
Noise is still an issue with some of the engines, too. The 128bhp 1.7-litre diesel is horribly gruff under acceleration and grumbles away even when cruising at motorway speeds.
The 113bhp 1.6 petrol is also pretty intrusive at motorway speeds, because it lacks a sixth gear, while both petrol engines (the other being a 138bhp 1.4 turbo) get pretty shouty when you work them hard.
Neither of the engines is particularly nippy, but both are perky enough for most drivers. The diesel is stronger, but isn’t as flexible as we’d like, because you need to get the revs above 2000rpm before it really starts to pull.
The 1.6 comes in front-wheel-drive form only, while the 1.4 is exclusively four-wheel drive. The diesel can be had with either. In most conditions, the four-wheel-drive system sends all of the engine’s power to the front wheels, but it can transfer up to 50% to the rear in slippery conditions.
What's the 2013 Vauxhall Mokka like inside?
The Mokka is one of the more practical small SUVs, with plenty of head- and legroom in the front and back. Four six-footers will easily be able to travel in comfort, and even five won’t be too cramped on short trips.
The boot impresses, too; it's not quite as big as a Nissan Qashqai's or a Skoda Yeti's, but is well shaped, while the rear seats fold almost flat if you flip up the bases before dropping the backrests.
Dashboard is similar to the Astra's, which means the controls are poorly labelled
The boot floor is also level with the entrance, so there's no big load lip to negotiate when lifting in heavy items.
The Mokka's dashboard layout is very similar to the Astra hatchback's, which isn't a good thing because it means there are too many poorly marked buttons.
On the plus side, the cabin does have lots of cubbyholes.
Forward visibility is good thanks to the Mokka's high driving position. However, thick rear pillars and side windows that rise towards the rear of the car restrict over-the-shoulder vision.
Should I buy one?
Vauxhall has certainly improved the way the Mokka drives, and that makes it easier to recommend. As before, it looks good, is fairly practical and – as long as you choose the right version (the 1.4 or 1.6 Tech Line) – it’s reasonably priced, too.
However, despite the improvements, the Mokka still falls way short of the best small SUVs. A Nissan Qashqai is more comfortable and a Skoda Yeti is more fun, while both are more spacious.
What Car? says…
By Will Nightingale and Ivan Aistrop
Our reviews are based on hard data and thorough testing in the real world.
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