One of the most important and in fact congested segments of the local market, it has seemingly become in art in itself for models to stick their noses above the parapet long enough to convince buyers of their credentials, and hopefully end with a signature on the dotted line.
Launched in Europe five years ago, the Opel Mokka has gone on to become something of a sales success for the blitz badge, with the top brass in Russelsheim confirming that some 600 000 units had been moved since production commenced at its Bupyeong Plant in South Korea.
With 2 672 of these being from South Africa where Mokka launched in 2013, it really was a case of how do you improve on a successful formula to regain the upper hand when the covers were being prepared to come off the refreshed model at last year’s Geneva Motor Show.
Now sporting a different face and name with the addition of an X suffix denoting Opel’s new crossover reference, the arrival of a Summit White range topping Mokka X Cosmo auto in mid-December presented the perfect opportunity to find out whether the now Spanish build crossover had upped the ante in anyway.
Visually, the Mokka X is off to a good start with the somewhat cuddly appearance from before making way for a much more bolder look highlighted by a Insignia derived grille, new bumper with redesigned foglights, silver skidplate and angular looking sweptback headlights which added daytime running LED’s and Adaptive Forward Lighting as part of the optional (R25 000) Premium Lighting Package.
Capping the revisions off, the Mokka X also receives full LED taillights as part of the latter package, with the sporty 19-inch alloy wheels being unique to the Cosmo.
Arguably the biggest and most welcome departure from the old Mokka comes when you step inside. Replacing the button festooned centre console, the restyled Astra inspired dash adopts a cleaner and uncluttered look with an eight-inch Intellilink touchscreen infotainment display replacing the old static monitor.
Split by a classy strip, the bottom half of the centre console housing the HVAC controls still makes do with a selection of buttons of knobs, which now looks much neater thanks to the redesign. In addition, a capacious storage cubby housing the Aux jack and USB input takes pride of place below.
What has remained unchanged though are the premium levels of fit-and-finish with the use of soft touch plastics, classy white stitched Jasmin Jet Black leather trim, piano key black inserts, chrome detailing and even dark grey gloss inserts on the doors.
It is not all good news though with interior space being somewhat of a hit-and-miss. Although comfortable up front with electric height adjustable chairs for driver and passenger, the former also boasting an armrest, extended manual lumber support and height adjustable steering wheels, the lowered roofline impedes on rear passenger headroom slightly with legroom also not being the most generous.
Just as odd considering the Cosmo’s standard asking price of R368 200, which swelled to R410 600 when number of options fitted were accounted for, was the lack of rear ventilation controls and vents although the fitment of a sunroof (R6 700) partially rectifies this by lending an airy feel.
Another slight disappointment was boot space which, thanks to the sloping rear end, only measured 356-litres and became full quite quickly over the Christmas period and following days carting boxes of belongings which had remained in the Eastern Cape following my move to the Big Smoke. Pulling a series of tags and flipping the 60/40 split back soon rectified this though as space grew by an additional 429-litres for a total of 785-litres.
Creature comforts are still plentiful however with noteworthy items being heated front seats and steering wheel, an excellent resolution reverse camera with front and rear parking sensors, climate control, one touch electric windows all round, cruise control, six-speaker audio system with Bluetooth,rain sense wipers, auto on / off lights, six airbags, Hill Start Assist and ABS with EBD as well as ESP. A strange omission though was Blind Spot Assist offered on other models in the Opel range.
In addition to the standard Intellilink system, our tester was further upgraded with the optional (R10 700) Navi 900 system which incorporates satellite navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Though easy to use and intuitive, integration with my Android powered Sony Xperia Z5 Compact failed to materialise as the system only caters for Samsung devices.
Another highlight was the aforementioned Adaptive Forward Headlights derived from the Astra’s Matrix IntelliLux setup. In short, each light uses six LED’s which adapts to the prevailing light conditions and speed for a claimed 30% improvement in illumination. As well dipping automatically when an ongoing vehicle is detected, the lights swivel when going around a corner for maximum illumination.
Where things have remained unchanged is underneath the bonnet where the Mokka X still makes do with the previous generation 1.4-litre Ecotec turbo developing 103 kW and 200 N.m of torque. Down on power compared to the new 112 kW motor offered in Europe, the mill pulls strong but is initially hamstrung by a fair amount of turbo lag.
Granted, some of the blame has to be shouldered on the six-speed automatic gearbox, which exhibits a tendency to take its time in choosing the correct ratios, before becoming hesitant to shift down when overtaking or going up a hill. Annoyingly, no proper manual override or shift paddles are provided with the gear lever having to be slotted in M first, before gears can be changed using the awkward button mounted on top.
The so-so drivetrain setup however produced a surprise when HVS 818 EC was tasked with a 285 km journey to the Free State 24 hours after being collected. Relying only on my right foot, fuel consumption dropped to a low of 6.3 L/100 km, bettering Opel’s claimed figure by 0.2 L/100 km.
Although this gradually went up over the festive season, the Mokka X was at its happiest cruising the main highways, with subsequent trips to Witbank, Pretoria and back to Johannesburg going by without a hitch. Off the smooth roads, the aesthetically pleasing 19-inch wheels came unstuck when the road surfaces became imperfect, resulting in a hard and crashy ride.
With just under 2 000 km racked up and consumption sitting at 6.9 L/100 km, my almost month-long tenure behind the wheel of the Opel Mokka X has shown it to be giant step up from the model that went before. Hobbled only by its drivetrain, rather opt for the six-speed manual, it otherwise deserves place on your next SUV shopping list.
|ENGINE LAYOUT||DOHC 16v Inline 4 turbo|
|MAX POWER||103 kW @4900-6000 rpm|
|MAX TORQUE||200 N.m @1850-4900 rpm|
|DRIVE LAYOUT||Front engine; Front-wheel drive|
|ACCELERATION (0-100 km/h)||10.7 secs|
|TOP SPEED||191 km/h|
|FUEL CONSUMPTION*||6.9 L/100 km*|
*As recorded during tenure
** Price as tested