Motoring: Opel’s Mokka enters the SUV war

2015-04-05 10:30

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The Mokka is ideal for mounting pavements or negotiating bad rural roads

‘Soft roaders’ like the Nissan Juke and Audi Q3 are just two options available for consumers from the smorgasbord of popular ­compact SUVs. Now Opel has entered the fray with its Mokka. Justus Visagie finds that the vehicle takes twisty roads in its stride

It could be the scourge of potholes or the ability to scan ahead to avoid self-appointed window cleaners at intersections. Or both of the above.

Whatever it is, (small) SUVs are becoming as sought after as Harleys and helicopters at kasi weddings.

The small-SUV trend was started by the Nissan Juke and cars like the Audi Q3, Ford EcoSport and Mini Countryman, and Renault Duster fanned the flames.

Now Opel has entered the market with its sweet little Mokka.

Like most of these baby “soft roaders”, it’s not meant for the rough stuff, so the engine and gearbox only drive the front wheels, not all four.

But it’s higher off the ground than a Corsa or Corolla, which makes it ideal for mounting pavements or negotiating bad rural roads without bruising its belly or chin.

Even though it’s taller than a standard car, the Mokka takes twisty roads in its stride. There’s no excessive leaning through the corners, and it felt sure-footed on the drenched roads between East London and Morgans Bay.

Every Mokka is equipped with electronic stability control, which can prevent a crash by keeping the car on course if the driver enters a corner

too fast.

The engine is a humble 1.4-litre (1?400cc), but employs a turbocharger to give it the power of a normal 2-litre. It is a lively unit, but becomes a little too vocal when asked to pick up the pace.

Also, its performance doesn’t impress like the new Opel Corsa’s 1-litre turbo engine does.

We drove the smooth-shifting six-speed auto, but a six-speed manual is available too.

The Mokka feels solid and well built, but two of the three cars we drove had a mild vibration in the driver’s door panel. The interior, especially the plastic mouldings, also doesn’t have the new Corsa or Opel Adam’s premium interior.

The seats remained supercomfortable as the kilometres slipped by and the cabin was quiet at cruising speed, except for a bit of tyre roar. The boot is big enough for a week’s luggage for a family of four.

Opel SA says the Mokka slots in between slightly smaller cross-over cars, like the Ford EcoSport, and slightly bigger crossovers, like the Nissan Qashqai.

Prices for the Mokka range from R288?500 for the Mokka Enjoy 1.4T manual to a substantial R335?500 for the range-topping Mokka 1.4 T Cosmo automatic.

The Renault Duster is a tad bigger and starts at R210?000, representing a compelling cheaper alternative. Also consider the Ford EcoSport 1.5 Ambiente for R211?000, the GWM M4 1.5 for R190?000 and the edgy Kia Soul 1.6 Start auto for R257?000.

You can also go bigger for a little more money. How about the Nissan X-Trail 2.0 XE for R327?700?

The meat of the matter is that this particular department of the car hypermarket offers more options than any other.

You can have fun (or get a headache) as you choose between hundreds of worthy wagons. As the consumer, you can certainly score.

PRICES

Mokka Enjoy 1.4T manual – R288?500

Mokka Enjoy 1.4T automatic – R298?500

Mokka Cosmo 1.4T manual – R325?500

Mokka Cosmo 1.4T automatic – R335?500

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