Vauxhall Mokka X 1.4T 140

The Mokka X is the facelifted version of the small Vauxhall SUV that sells extremely well despite not being particularly inspiring to drive. Such a story is typical of cars in a segment that is largely shunned by enthusiasts but lapped up by everybody else. The Mokka counts the Renault Captur and Skoda Yeti among its rivals, and since its launch in 2012 it has consistently been one of the best sellers in its class. Now it has had a facelift and an ‘X’ has been slapped on to the end of its name to indicate that it’s an SUV. Soon the X will adorn every Vauxhall SUV and crossover.

The front grille and rear end have been reworked, there’s a new dashboard inspired by that of the Astra and prices have been hiked by around £800 across the range. The line-up also gets a new, higher-powered 154bhp turbocharged 1.4-litre petrol model that comes with all-wheel drive and an automatic gearbox as standard. The biggest change is inside. The dash has been completely redesigned to rid it of its predecessor’s confusing cluster of buttons. In its place comes Vauxhall’s sleeker and more recent layout.

All-new dashboard is a big improvement; Mokka X is agile enough, but it doesn't steer or ride as well as its main crossover rivals

All-new dashboard is a big improvement; Mokka X is agile enough, but it doesn’t steer or ride as well as its main crossover rivals

As standard in Active trim, it gets a 7.0in touchscreen, OnStar (Vauxhall’s 24/7 emergency assist and concierge service) and DAB radio, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It goes some way to raising the perceived quality of the cabin, which may not match the fit and finish of the Yeti but gives everything else in the class a run for its money.

In terms of practicality, the Mokka X straddles the line between a Captur and a Nissan Juke, offering more room than the Nissan but less than the Renault. There’s plenty of space up front, but it’s pretty cramped in the back. It also has a smaller boot than the Captur, albeit with no load lip.

The Mokka has previously been let down by the way it drives. With this facelift addressing only cosmetic issues, it remains pretty average from behind the wheel. However, the 138bhp version of the 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine powering our test car will be quick enough for most people. It’s sufficiently strong to cope with B-road overtaking and motorway journeys, with power delivered pretty smoothly across the rev band.

It does feel a little flat at low revs, but it’s quieter than the 1.6-litre diesel. This engine is available with the option of an automatic transmission, but the standard six-speed manual ’box is accurate and has a positive throw. Four-wheel drive is available for an extra £1700, so you’re better off sticking with the standard front-wheel drive layout if the extra traction isn’t a necessity.

This engine isn’t outstandingly efficient, though. Claimed fuel economy of 47.1mpg is less than its rivals (although they are slower), and CO2 emissions of 140g/km might put fleet buyers off. Even so, we’d still pointvauxhall-mokkax14t private buyers towards this engine for the best blend of performance, economy and value.

The steering is light, quick and accurate but offers little feedback. There’s plenty of grip and the car feels fairly agile, with body roll kept in check surprisingly well. That said, the ride is pretty crashy over most surfaces. Refinement isn’t great, either, with plenty of wind and road noise at motorway speeds.

Many people have already stumped up for a Mokka, and many more will doubtless do so for the new Mokka X, which is ultimately a more rounded package. Strong finance deals will almost certainly continue to attract buyers, too.

But it is still only average in most departments and it’s more expensive than before for private buyers. For similar money, you could have a Yeti or a Captur, which are roomier and more engaging to drive.

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