The entry-level 1.6-litre petrol engine doesn’t have a huge amount of low-rev shove, so has to be worked hard if you want to make decent progress.
The diesels are also frustrating, but for different reasons; they offer stronger mid-range pulling power, particularly the 134bhp version of the 1.6-litre, but have a very peaky power delivery. Put your foot down and there’s a short delay while you wait for the turbocharger to kick in, and the extra pace it provides is short lived. Again, this forces you to change gear quite a lot to keep the engine in its sweet spot, which can make the Mokka X rather tiring to drive.
Our favourite engine is the turbocharged 138bhp 1.4-litre petrol, which responds much more quickly. It also delivers its shove over a sufficiently wide range of revs that it feels comfortable around town and on cross-country drives alike.
The standard six-speed manual gearbox can catch you out because the change from second to third gear is particularly notchy, but otherwise it’s got a positive action. The automatic gearbox (available with all engines apart from the entry-level 1.6 petrol) is smooth, but it doesn’t respond quickly when you press the accelerator hard.
Vauxhall Mokka X ride comfort
Ride comfort isn’t a Vauxhall Mokka X strength. Although the suspension feels initially pretty soft, because it’s poorly damped it fails to settle over broken surfaces at low speeds. Meanwhile, larger bumps send jolts through the cabin.
It means that the Mokka X is one of the least comfortable cars in its class. For example, the Nissan Qashqai is much smoother over our typically scruffy roads, and even though the Seat Ateca feels pretty firm, it’s far less bouncy over larger lumps and bumps. It’s the same story with the Renault Captur and Nissan Juke, both of which are better at staying settled than the Mokka X.
Vauxhall Mokka X handling
The Mokka X isn’t particularly good to drive. The problems start with its steering, which gives you precious little idea of what the front wheels are doing and how hard they’re working.
Traction on front-wheel-drive models is also average, and the car’s front-end will often push wide of your chosen course if you take a tight corner with anything approaching enthusiasm. Four-wheel-drive models feel a bit more planted, but still have the same numb steering.
At least the steering is reasonably light at low speeds, which helps make the Mokka X easy enough to thread through town and manoeuvre into parking spaces.
The relatively soft suspension also means the Mokka X’s body leans heavily as you corner, so for an SUV that’s fun to drive, the Seat Ateca is easily your best option.
Vauxhall Mokka X refinement
For the most peaceful progress, you want the 1.4-litre turbo petrol; the 1.6 petrol needs to be revved harder, while the diesels are noisy when idling, and become even louder as the revs rise. The diesels also send a fair bit of vibration back through the Mokka X’s steering wheel and pedals.
Refinement continues to disappoint on the motorway. The Mokka X’s large door mirrors kick up a noticeable amount of wind noise above 50mph, while road noise is also an issue.
It’s also worth noting that the clutch and brake pedals feel quite snatchy, so in stop-start traffic it’s a tricky car to drive smoothly.
This engine is the cheapest way into a Mokka X – but it feels like it, too. It doesn’t have a turbocharger, so has to be revved hard if you want to accelerate even moderately briskly. It’s also noisy when pushed. A manual gearbox is the only transmission available with this engine.
Our pick 1.4T 140
Our pick of the range offers peppy performance and the best refinement in the line-up. Its CO2 emissions aren’t spectacular, though, so it won’t make the Mokka X especially cheap to run as a company car. It is available with a manual or automatic gearbox, and with two- or four-wheel drive.
Only available with all-wheel drive and an automatic transmission, we’re yet to drive it.
1.6 CDTi 110
This is the most efficient engine in the line-up, but we’re yet to test it.
1.6 CDTi 136
If you’re after a diesel engine in your Mokka X, this is the one to go for. There’s a fair bit of lag in the power delivery at low revs, though, then a noticeable surge of power. It’s not as hushed as the diesel engines in several rivals, either. The Ecoflex version of this engine has lower CO2 emissions than the standard one, so makes the car a more tax-efficient choice; it is also slightly more economical. Like the turbo petrol, this engine can be had with a manual or automatic gearbox, and in front or four-wheel drive form.