What Car? says...
We’d stop short of calling the Vauxhall Mokka a game-changer, but it has certainly helped change the car market by offering buyers on a budget a high-riding small SUV for a competitive price.
Under the skin, this second-generation model is closely related to the impressive Peugeot 2008 and comes with a similar line-up of engines.
You can have a 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol engine with one of three outputs – 99bhp, 128bhp and 134bhp – and either a manual or automatic gearbox.
That’s what this review will tell you, as we rate it for performance and handling, practicality, running costs and more. We'll also tell you which trim and engine options we think are best.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
We've yet to try the Vauxhall Mokka's entry-level 99bhp 1.2-litre petrol (badged 1.2 Petrol 100PS), but the mid-spec 128bhp 1.2 Petrol 130PS feels perfectly suited to the model. There’s plenty of grunt at low revs and it can whisk you up to motorway speeds with little stress.
The most powerful version, the 1.2 Petrol 136PS, is only slightly faster than the automatic 128bhp version (0-62mph in 9.1sec as opposed to 9.2sec), but on paper, just about matches the Ford Puma 1.0 Ecoboost Hybrid 155PS. Even so, in the real world, the Puma feels much faster from a standstill and is more versatile when it comes to overtaking.
As standard, the 128bhp engine comes with an eight-speed automatic gearbox, while the other engines come with six-speed manuals.
You can do also without an engine and have an electric car version – see our Vauxhall Mokka Electric review to read about that.
Suspension and ride comfort
When driven on the kind of long, wavy undulations you find on motorways and A-roads, the Mokka, with its softly sprung suspension, is remarkably comfortable. Around town, it feels rather lumpen, with larger abrasions such as potholes and sunken drain covers rocking you around in your seat.
It stops short of being uncomfortable and certainly doesn’t thump or crash over divots as the Peugeot 2008 can do, but the Skoda Kamiq and the VW T-Roc are much more comfortable during city driving.
The standard-fit 18in alloy wheels that come with GS and Ultimate trim don’t help matters, and while we’ve yet to try the entry-level Design trim on 16in wheels, we suspect that version would have give potholes and pimples a softer edge, making it the most comfortable of the bunch.
If you’re looking for a small SUV that'll plaster a smile across your face when the road gets tight and twisty, the Mokka is not the car for you. It's more prone to body lean than the Audi Q2 and the Puma, even at moderate speeds, and feels a little top-heavy when it's making quick changes of direction.
That said, it does feel better balanced (and is therefore more confidence-inspiring) through faster bends than the Citroën C3 Aircross. We also prefer the Mokka's steering to the 2008’s. It feels more naturally weighted and is more linear in its responses, making it easier to place the car accurately on country roads.
Noise and vibration
Road and suspension noise are well suppressed at speed, and while the 1.2-litre petrol engine makes a thrumming sound as you accelerate, it fades away at a cruise. There's a bit of wind noise around the windscreen pillars at motorway speeds, but it's not particularly intrusive.
We haven’t experienced the Mokka’s manual gearbox, but the eight-speed automatic is perfectly acceptable. It changes up and down smoothly most of the time, and while it can be a little abrupt at parking speeds, the same is true of the autos found in the Audi Q2 and the VW T-Roc.
Strengths Punchy petrol engines; relatively quiet at a cruise; comfortable on the motorway
Weaknesses Not the sharpest handling; ride comfort could be better around town; automatic gearbox can be jerky
The interior layout, fit and finish
Driving position and dashboard
Like most small SUVs the Vauxhall Mokka isn’t a whole lot taller than a regular hatchback. However, the seats are mounted quite high up to give you more of a commanding view of the road, and the car has a tall bonnet that you can see from the driver’s seat, giving you the impression you’re driving a ‘proper’ SUV.
You’ll find a good range of adjustment in the driver’s seat and steering wheel, for both reach and height, so you should be able to find a comfortable driving position, and you get adjustable lumbar support if you go for the top-spec Ultimate trim. That’s a bit of a shame when you consider that even the much cheaper entry-level Skoda Kamiq comes with manual lumbar adjustment.
The dashboard is well laid out and easy to get the hang of, with physical buttons and knobs for the climate control and media volume. We much prefer that to the way the Peugeot 2008 and some other rivals force you to use the touchscreen for the climate controls, which is far more distracting.
A 7.0in digital instrument display comes as standard, with a larger 12.0in display provided from GS trim and up. It's clear and easy to read, but can't show the same variety of information as the Kamiq's digital dials.
Visibility, parking sensors and cameras
The Mokka’s relatively high driving position helps to give you a decent view forwards and to the sides, and that's handy when navigating junctions.
You can always see the end of the bonnet from your driving position and the flat front bumper means you can see the parameters of the car, which is handy for parallel parking in tight spots. However, over-the-shoulder visibility is hampered by a rising window line and chunky rear pillars.
Unlike the Ford Puma and the Peugeot 2008, it doesn't come with rear parking sensors as standard – you have to step up to at least GS trim for that privilege, but at least you will benefit from a rear-view camera too. If you go for top-spec Ultimate trim, you’ll also get front parking sensors.
Every Mokka comes with bright LED headlights and daytime running lights to aid night-time visibility. On top of that, Ultimate trim also gets LED front foglights and upgraded matrix adaptive LED headlights, which can shape their light output to avoid dazzling other road users while full beam is selected (an impressive feature that’s rare in this class).
Sat nav and infotainment
We’ve yet to try the 7.0in touchscreen infotainment system that comes as standard on the Mokka Design, but we have tried the larger 10.0in version that comes with GS trim and above.
Both include Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring, allowing you to bypass the Vauxhall software and use your phone’s interface instead. That's handy, because the built-in system is not the most intuitive to use, nor is it particularly responsive.
It does, however, feature physical shortcut buttons and a volume knob located below the screen, making it less distracting than the touchscreen-only systems of some rivals, including the VW T-Roc. Wireless phone-charging comes as standard on range-topping Ultimate models.
The Mokka's interior has swooping lines here and there, an eclectic-looking mix of materials and all the key controls are angled towards the driver to give you a sporty, driver-focused vibe.
However, if you take the time to poke and prod those materials, you’ll find that they’re not as plush as the equivalents used in the Audi Q2 and the Peugeot 2008. For example, the fake carbon-fibre trim you get in the 2008 is a soft-touch weave, whereas the faux carbon in the Mokka is hollow plastic.
It’s also a shame that the buttons, switches and dials (which you touch rather a lot) feel cheap and unsubstantial.
Strengths Better driving position than Peugeot 2008; intelligently laid out dashboard
Weaknesses Infotainment not as slick as 2008’s; interior features too many cheap plastics
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
There’s plenty of storage space up front in the Vauxhall Mokka, including a generously sized glovebox and a couple of reasonably sized door bins.
There’s also a surprisingly large storage tray at the bottom of the dash that’s big enough to take a hefty wallet or a large smartphone. That's also where you’ll find the wireless charging pad on Ultimate Nav models.
With its high window line, you do feel a little hemmed in sitting in the back of the Mokka. Unless you’re well over six feet tall, you'll have plenty of leg and head room, but the middle seat is quite narrow and slightly raised, so this isn’t the best small SUV for carrying three passengers in the back.
Storage cubbies include a couple of small door bins and map pockets on the back of the seats (from GS trim and above) but there is no option of a rear centre armrest. If rear space is your priority, we'd point you towards the far more spacious Skoda Kamiq.
Seat folding and flexibility
As with the majority of cars in the small SUV class, the Mokka’s rear seat bench splits and folds in a traditional 60/40 configuration.
If you want a car with more carrying flexibility, there are better options out there, such as the Mini Countryman with its rear bench that folds in a more practical 40/20/40 split, the VW T-Roc with its standard-fit ski hatch, and the smaller VW T-Cross, which has a sliding rear bench.
Front passenger seat height adjustment is standard on every Mokka, but there's no option of adjustable lumbar support for the passenger on any of the trims.
It’s rather handy that all models come with a height-adjustable boot floor. It allows you to separate the boot into two compartments, which is handy if you want to stop loose or particularly fragile items from rolling around in the boot. At its highest setting, it leaves only a small lip at the boot entrance.
If you need extra space, you can drop the rear seats and, providing you have the boot floor in its highest setting, there isn’t much of a step up to the seatbacks, making it easy to load long items.
Strengths All models come with a height adjustable boot floor; plenty of storage space up front
Weaknesses Ford Puma and Skoda Kamiq have bigger boots; rear seats don't do anything particularly clever
Buying & owning
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2
If you plan to buy outright, the Vauxhall Mokka will set you back about the same as its rivals, with the Skoda Kamiq coming in slightly cheaper and the Ford Puma and Peugeot 2008 slightly more expensive. Indeed, mid-spec GS trim is well priced compared with rivals considering the equipment you get.
Disappointingly, the Mokka is predicted to depreciate faster than the Puma and Kamiq, which can have an effect on how competitive PCP finance rates are and the amount you’ll be able to sell it for in three years.
With relatively low official CO2 emissions, the Mokka makes a lot of financial sense for company car drivers paying benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax. In our Real MPG tests the 1.2 Petrol 130 managed an average of 41.8mpg. Of course, if you want to keep your BIK payments really low, the Vauxhall Mokka Electric will be the one to go for.
Equipment, options and extras
The entry-level Mokka trim – called Design – has pretty much all the everyday basics covered, including 16in alloy wheels, cruise control, air conditioning, LED headlights and touchscreen infotainment.
Even so, if you can, we’d suggest stepping up to mid-spec GS trim. It doesn’t cost all that much more but it adds a few extra nice-to-have luxuries, including heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, bigger 18in wheels, rear parking sensors and a rear-view camera, climate control and the larger infotainment system with built-in sat-nav.
If you want your Mokka to come with all the toys, top-spec Ultimate trim is the one to go for. It adds front parking sensors, an electric driver’s seat with adjustable lumbar support and massage, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring and keyless entry and start.
The second-generation Mokka is too new to have featured in the 2023 What Car? Reliability Survey but Vauxhall as a manufacturer didn’t fare particularly well, finishing 30th out of the 32 brands included.
Every new Vauxhall comes with a three-year or 60,000-mile warranty. That’s average for the class, but not as generous as Hyundai, which covers you for five years or Kia which gives you up to seven years.
Safety and security
When it was tested by the safety experts at Euro NCAP the Mokka scored four out of five stars. That’s quite disappointing, but it’s hard to compare the Mokka’s score with rival small SUVs because they were tested in different years and under different testing regimes.
Regardless, you’ll be happy to know that every Mokka comes with plenty of safety equipment as standard, including the all-important automatic emergency braking (AEB) and lane-keeping assistance.
Opting for the top-spec Ultimate trim gets you more safety equipment, with that trim upgrading the AEB system to recognise pedestrians as well as cars and adding blind-spot monitoring and a lane-positioning assistant (if you go for the automatic).
Strengths Reasonably well equipped
Weaknesses Quick predicted depreciation; Vauxhall didn’t perform well in our reliability survey
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Regardless of which engine you go for, the Mokka should be pretty efficient, with even the 1.2 Petrol 130 returning over 40mpg in our Real MPG tests.
The top trim for the Mokka is called Ultimate. It comes with lots of equipment, including front and rear parking sensors, a reversing camera, adjustable lumbar support and massage function, and an upgraded automatic emergency braking system.
Yes. Thanks to smooth engines and softly sprung suspension, the Mokka is easy to drive around every day. It's not particularly sporty, but it has sufficient levels of grip and balance on faster roads that you can easily drive it safely.
|RRP price range||£24,660 - £41,295|
|Number of trims (see all)||3|
|Number of engines (see all)||4|
|Available fuel types (which is best for you?)||electric, petrol|
|MPG range across all versions||47.9 - 51.4|
|Available doors options||5|
|Warranty||3 years / 60000 miles|
|Company car tax at 20% (min/max)||£73 / £1,967|
|Company car tax at 40% (min/max)||£146 / £3,935|