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Road Test: Vauxhall Mokka X Elite 1.6 CDTi (136PS)

Vauxhall’s first crossover has done well by stradding segments – but does it still have a role in a growing line-up? Alex Grant finds out.

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SECTOR: Crossover PRICE: £25,055 FUEL: 65.7mpg CO2: 106g/km

The Mokka was one of those well-timed products that seemed to tap into a growing niche. Vauxhall has sold 120,000 in the UK since 2012; it’s frequently a top-ten big-seller, and in 2014 General Motors had to extend production from South Korea to its plant in Spain to meet similarly high demand across the rest of Europe.

That’s partly because it’s had to bridge two popular segments. Based on a supermini platform, as used in the Chevrolet Aveo but curiously not in the Corsa, yet it’s almost as big as an Astra, the Mokka sits between the Qashqai-esque crossovers and those up against the Juke. Up against the latter, it’s the class best-seller.

Changes are afoot. Along with an additional letter on its badge and a styling refresh, the Mokka X is getting an extended crossover family, all on platforms from PSA Group. The larger Grandland X will chase Qashqai volumes, while the smaller Crossland X will appease former Meriva customers while targeting conquests from cars such as the Renault Captur. Where the Mokka X fits into that tightly-packed line-up isn’t entirely clear.

In the meantime, there’s still an obvious role for it, and the mid-life updates seem geared towards bringing the first of the litter in line its stablemates. Slimmer headlights and a prominent grille echo the Insignia Grand Sport, while the interior seems to have been lifted from an Astra. It’s the latter that makes the bigger difference – the Mokka’s mosaic of poorly-arranged buttons has made way for a much neater touchscreen, which operates most of the media functions but (thankfully) not the air conditioning.

It’s not a bad touchscreen, either. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard features and, as a result, smartphone navigation apps run as if it they built into the dashboard. Vauxhall’s built-in navigation means opting up to an Elite Nav version, a £700 increase. However, this has the advantage of making OnStar far more useful, as you can get a human advisor to search for destinations and upload them to the screen as you drive.

There’s not much else that makes the Mokka X stand out. The latest Astra is better to drive, and this car lacks either the cabin flexibility of a Captur, nor the distinctiveness of a Juke or C4 Cactus. At 114g/km for the non-ecoFLEX version of this engine, and with a list price of £24,000 in Elite spec, it’s hard to ignore the appeal of the plentiful, larger, C-SUV alternatives.

Not that it seems to dissuade UK buyers; this is an established name in a market that’s filling with newcomers, and it offers enough of the high-riding practicality and off-road styling cues to lure customers to take note. It will be interesting to see how the second-generation Mokka X – due in 2019 – will evolve as it looks to better define its place within the range.

What We Think

An effective remedy to most of the Mokka’s weaker points. But there’s better value elsewhere in the range, including the cheaper ecoFLEX version of the Elite, which also brings CO2 down to 106g/km.

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Alex Grant

Trained on Cardiff University’s renowned Postgraduate Diploma in Motor Magazine Journalism, Alex is an award-winning motoring journalist with ten years’ experience across B2B and consumer titles. A life-long car enthusiast with a fascination for new technology and future drivetrains, he joined Fleet World in April 2011, contributing across the magazine and website portfolio and editing the EV Fleet World Website.