New Vauxhall Mokka-e and Hyundai Kona Electric vs Volkswagen ID.3

Can Vauxhall’s striking new Mokka-e SUV beat the freshly facelifted Kona and class-leading ID.3 in this small electric car shootout?...

New Vauxhall Mokka-e and Hyundai Kona Electric vs Volkswagen ID.3 fronts

The contenders

Vauxhall Mokka-e 50kWh Elite Nav Premium

List price £34,580*
Target Price £33,396*

Electric version of Vauxhall’s new small SUV shares its underpinnings with the Peugeot e-2008 and can officially cover up to 201 miles between charges


Hyundai Kona Electric 39kWh Premium

List price £31,800*
Target Price £30,164*

Refresh brings extra safety kit and a new infotainment system. And while this entry-level model has a relatively short official range of 189 miles, it's the cheapest car here


Volkswagen ID.3 58kWh Pro Performance Life

List price £33,790*
Target Price £32,797*

Our reigning champion in the small electric car class combines practicality and fine driving manners with a long official range of 263 miles

*Not including £2500 Government grant


Just because something is selling by the bucketload, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s any good. So, from the minimalist headphones that sound tinny and fall apart (usually just after the warranty expires) to the big-name champagne that isn’t as tasty as the supermarket’s own brand, it pays to read the reviews.

Vauxhall Mokka-e 2021 rear

Cars are no different. The original Vauxhall Mokka soared high in the UK sales charts and stayed there for quite some time, yet it was a bit, well, rubbish. It wasn’t good to drive, didn’t have a particularly big boot and depreciated faster than a Picasso painting that had been put through a rinse and spin cycle.

Thankfully, there’s now an all-new Mokka – and when we say ‘all new’, we really mean it. There’s no trace of the General Motors DNA of old, because Vauxhall is now part of the same group that owns Citroën and Peugeot. As a result, this Mokka shares its underpinnings with the Citroën C4, DS 3 Crossback and Peugeot 2008. Like those models, it comes with regular petrol engines and as a fully electric vehicle (EV) with a usable battery capacity of 46kWh.

It’s the EV we have here. It’s called the Mokka-e, and to put it to the test, we’ve gathered together a couple of key rivals. First up is another familiar name: the Hyundai Kona Electric. After a few years on sale, it has gone under the surgeon’s knife with a fresh new look, upgraded infotainment system and some extra safety kit. We’re testing the entry-level 39kWh version to keep the price competitive with the Mokka-e, but a longer-range, 64kWh model is also available.

Hyundai Kona Electric 2021 rear

Both will have to beat our 2021 Small Electric Car of the Year, the Volkswagen ID.3. In our preferred 58kWh Life trim, it balances a good range with an affordable price, at the expense of a few luxuries. Can its blend of abilities bring it another victory, or will either of the fresh-faced upstarts topple it?


Driving

Performance, ride, handling, refinement

If you’re thinking about buying an EV, range will no doubt be one of your main considerations. The ID.3 has the advantage here, because it has the biggest battery. It set the benchmark with a theoretical maximum of 191 miles on a full charge, based on its energy consumption around our controlled test route. Despite having the smallest battery, the Kona travelled the next farthest, because it uses its electricity the most efficiently. It managed 153 miles to the Mokka’s 151.

Volkswagen ID.3 2021 rear

The ID.3 also has the most powerful electric motor, which it puts to good use when you plant your right foot. Accelerate hard away from a standstill and the ID.3 and Kona will be neck and neck to 30mph and feel quite spirited, but thereafter the ID.3 romps away with a stellar 0-60mph time of 6.7sec – not far off what the Ford Fiesta ST hot hatch can do. The Kona takes just over a second longer to hit 60mph – still a perfectly respectable time and well ahead of the Mokka’s 8.6sec.

On the other hand, while the Mokka is easily the slowest from a standing start, it isn’t too dissimilar to the Kona if you go to overtake a slower car or join a motorway. Once again, though, the ID.3 has the advantage.

The ID.3 impresses with its agility on a twisty country road, too. Its steering is precise and builds weight reassuringly as your speed and the cornering forces increase. Body lean is kept well in check, and there’s enough grip and composure to make it relatively good fun to drive.

Vauxhall Mokka-e 2021 front

The Kona isn’t bad, either, staying pretty upright when you thread it through tight turns and feeling almost as agile. Mid-corner bumps knock it off course more readily than they do the ID.3, though, and it can be a touch unruly coming out of slow corners; the steering wheel tends to tug in your hands under hard acceleration as the motor’s grunt tries to overwhelm the front tyres’ traction.

Even so, the Kona is preferable to the Mokka, which doesn’t have enough power to get the steering wheel writhing in your hands but still suffers kickback through the wheel over bumps. Otherwise, it steers accurately enough, but try pressing on and it has the most lean in bends and runs out of grip and composure the soonest. There isn’t a lot of enjoyment to be found in driving it quickly through the twisties.

The upside of the Mokka’s squishy suspension is a fairly comfortable ride. It’s a settled motorway cruiser and makes a decent fist of smoothing off craggy road surfaces, although potholes and particularly nasty ridges generate a bit of a thud.

Hyundai Kona Electric 2021 front

Its ride is nowhere near as irritating as that of the overly firm Kona, though. On surfaces that would generate just a little fidget in the Mokka, the Kona bobbles around far more noticeably. Sharper obstacles send a thump through the base of your seat and you feel more road imperfections. It’s the least comfortable car here, while the ID.3 is the cushiest. It isn’t as soft as the Mokka, yet it still soaks up bumps with aplomb. And after a bump, it’s the quickest to recover its composure, so you tend to sway around less on uneven roads.

The ID.3 doesn’t have everything its own way, though. It’s the noisiest of our trio at motorway speeds, mainly due to wind rushing around the windscreen pillars. The Kona isn’t much quieter, producing plenty of wind and road roar, along with a few clonks from its suspension as it tries to iron out the road’s surface.

It’s the Mokka that’s by far the easiest on your ears. You notice more motor whine than you do in the other two at a cruise, but that’s mainly because wind and road noise are so well contained.

Volkswagen ID.3 2021 front

The Mokka can also stop in the shortest distance from 30mph and 70mph, but doing so smoothly isn’t at all easy. The level of retardation you get when you hit the brake pedal isn’t consistent, and the car feels the least stable in an emergency stop.

The ID.3’s brakes are fine during gentle stops, but at higher speeds the pedal sometimes goes so far down that you’re often not sure whether the car is going to stop as expected – a trait that can be quite unnerving. Don’t get us wrong: the ID.3 stops quickly enough – in a shorter distance than the Kona, in fact – but in terms of consistency and ease of use, the latter’s brakes are actually preferable.


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