There’s no denying Vauxhall is enjoying something of a renaissance at the moment. Sales across the UK are on the up, and with the part-electric Ampera impressing the environmental lobby, everyone at Vauxhall seems to be smiling.
And that’s before the launch of its new city car, the strangely-named Adam, next month, and the new sub-compact SUV, the Mokka.
Ok, yes, I agree: it’s a strange name for a car. Apparently, the best reason for the name Vauxhall management could come up with at the press launch of the car was “it’s got to have something to do with coffee, I guess”. Well that was revealing.
The Mokka’s a rugged thing then: well, I guess it would have to be to achieve Vauxhall’s primary goal for the car ie “getting people with an active lifestyle out into the countryside, along with all their required equipment.”
Oh dear, sounds remarkably like another “lifestyle” vehicle. In addition to a front-wheel-drive version, an AWD car will also be offered.
This uses an electromagnetic clutch to send as much as 50% of the torque to the rear axle when a control module deems it necessary. So you shouldn’t get stuck in the mud or the snow.
Vauxhall has also fitted the Mokka with a Descent Control System and Hill Start Assist as standard. And rather than do it with just the premier models in the range, all four specs of the Mokka — S, Exclusiv, Tech Line and SE — get the kit.
In fact Vauxhall has equipped the car very well: even the entry-level model gets digital radio and cruise control. But you do need to step up to the mid-level range before you get goodies such as dual-zone climate control, USB socket, Bluetooth connectivity and parkings sensors.
That, in all fairness, if probably a sensible decision, because that’s the area where the majority of British buyers will select their cars.
The Mokka is available with a choice of three engines. There are two petrols — the 113bhp 1.6-litre and a 138bhp turbocharged 1.4 — plus the 128bhp 1.7CDTi turbodiesel.
While the range starts with the entry-level £15,995 petrol, we drove the 1.7CDTI SE with four-wheel-drive. It’ll set you back £23,490.
The cabin of the Mokka is spacious, and contains no less than 19 storage spaces. Its design though lacks the sharpness and vitality of rival models, which essentially are compact city cars.
That’s unfortunate, because by all accounts the interior of the forthcoming Adam promises something really mouthwatering.
On the road the Mokka handles well, though the combination of big wheels and suspension means the car does harbour a tendency to bob ‘n’ weave like an SUV. That’s ok out on the rough stuff, but in a city centre it rapidly gets a bit wearying.
The reality is though, you should prepare yourself to see quite a few Mokkas on the road, certainly according to the pre-order figures we were told by Vauxhall.
It seems the image of the car has captured the imagination of prospective buyers and, let’s be honest, when most of them take delivery of their car they’ll be perfectly happy with it.
It’s certainly something of a headturner, much in the way the rival Skoda Yeti is.
And with fuel consumption figures of 57mpg, CO2 emission figures of 129g/km and road tax around the 100 quid mark, Vauxhall might well just have another winner on its hands …. despite the criticisms.