Opel’s new baby, a small SUV that isn’t really small or an SUV, may have something of an identity crisis, but it’s bound to find a willing market in South Africa.
On launch near East London the car, marginally larger than the current crop of small SUVs (Peugeot 2008, Ford EcoSport, Kia Soul, Nissan Juke) and smaller than their mid-sized brethren (Hyundai ix35, Kia Sportage, Nissan Qashqai, Mazda CX-5) proved a quality product, but one that is hardly likely to set the market alight.
The cabin is refined but a little tight, the drivetrain is unspectacular but competent and the price is high or low, depending on which category you wish it into.
Based on General Motors’ generic Gamma II platform (shared with the Chevrolet Aveo) it is high – all-important – substantial in feel, well-built and moderately capable on dirt, sporting as it does a set of effectively rugged 205/60 R 17 tyres.
There is no diesel or 4×4 variant offered.
Two specifications levels are offered, Enjoy and Cosmo and both are well kitted out. Both also share the same 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine, which does the job adequately. Much better would have been the Adam’s delightful new three cylinder unit, but parent company General Motors nixed that potentially game-changing option. As it is the anodyne engine lends the car a curiously beige character, no full marks, but no fails either.
On the road the 1.4 turbo, with an automatic gearbox, lacked the finesse or the grunt of the Peugeot 2008’s 1600 unit, the bravery of the Renault Duster’s equally energetic 1600, or the character of the Ford EcoSport’s sweet little three cylinder, one-litre mill.
The ride quality is acceptably compliant, with the accent on comfort, but economy suffers as a result of the constant shifting to get the best out of the 1.4-litre engine. We managed no better than 10l/100km, on the fast, then congested 200km drive in the automatic, and 9,8l/100km in the manual version.
So interesting size, non-confrontational design, middle of the road dynamics. It is not busting with character (wait for the Citroen Cactus for that), but perhaps that is the point. It’s a blender this Mokka, and will likely prove popular among the less ostentatious. Time will tell.
Opel Mokka prices:
1.4T Enjoy manual R288 500
1.4T Enjoy automatic R298 500
1.4T Cosmo manual R325 500
1.4T Cosmo automatic R335 500
NEED TO KNOW
MODEL OPEL MOKKA 1.4T Enjoy AT
PRICE R298 500
ENGINE 1364cc 16v turbo 4-cyl, 103kW@6000rpm, 200Nm@1850-4900rpm
TRANSMISSION six-speed automatic, front wheel drive
SUSPENSION MacPherson strut front, torsion beam rear
PERFORMANCE 9.9sec 0-100kph, 190kph, 6,6l/100km (claimed), 197gkm CO2
ON SALE Now