Road Test: Vauxhall Mokka 1.6 CDTi Limited Edition

  • Impressively quiet 1.6-litre diesel finally installed in the Mokka
  • Tested here in generously-equipped Limited Edition guise
  • Pricy though at £22,419; rivals considerably cheaper

Asking almost £22,500 for a small crossover sounds somewhat ambitious, so this new addition to the Vauxhall Mokka line-up must have a few aces up its sleeve to justify the sticker price.

If you’re thinking it looks like any number of white Mokkas you’ve seen plying Britain’s byways, you’re forgiven, for it's easy not to notice the contrasting black roof and door mirror housings that visually identify this Limited Edition version.

Similarly, there’s nothing outside to signify that under the Vauxhall’s bonnet lies the 1.6-litre ‘Whisper Diesel’ that’s already seeing service in the Astra, Meriva and Zafira Tourer, and which finally ousts the agricultural 1.7-litre CDTi here.

Does it stack up to make the Mokka a more compelling – if pricy – package to take on Nissan’s Juke, Renault’s Captur and Mazda’s forthcoming CX-3?

Quiet new motor

Old MacDonald would have been embarrassed by the clatteriness of the outgoing 128bhp 1.7-litre diesel, so far had it fallen behind the refinement pace. The noise difference between it and the new 134bhp 1.6-litre is stark; the latest power unit is impressively hushed, and only particularly audible as the revs creep closer to 4,000rpm.

It’s punchier too, with 320Nm of torque, although it’s only a modest seven percent increase and do you have to prod the accelerator reasonably hard as that peak pulling power isn’t delivered until 2,000rpm. Nevertheless, you feel confident pulling away from junctions and overtaking manoeuvres at higher speeds don’t necessarily require a down-change from the six-speed manual gearbox.

Despite that slight increase, the Whisper cuts the 0-60mph acceleration sprint down to 9.3 seconds (10.5 previously) and it’s cheaper to run too. Claimed combined fuel consumption for the 1.6-litre is 65.7mpg (the 1.7-litre was quoted at 62.8mpg), while CO2 emissions have been cut from 120g/km to 114 – in VED car tax terms it remains in band C, or £30 for 2015/16.

Company car drivers will make savings though as the new engine falls into the 20 percent BIK bracket for 2015/16; two percent lower than the old 1.7-litre CDTi.

Well-equipped 

As you’d hope for the price, this imaginatively titled Limited Edition, which sits just below the flagship SE trim, is packed to the gunnels with equipment. Bold 19-inch alloy wheels, rear privacy glass, dual-zone climate control, DAB radio complete with a CD player (something of a rarity these days), USB and AUX-in sockets and Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control, automatic lights and wipers are all included.

Further garnish is applied to the Mokka’s exterior with chrome-look trim around the window line and front fog light surrounds, parking sensors front and rear, a metal-effect front skid plate (although this model is front-wheel drive, not a bona fide off-roader) and silver-finished roof rails. You do only get that white and black paint combination, though.

All in, the package totals £21,364 but our test car benefitted from the £1,055 optional Navi 950 IntelliLink infotainment package too, nudging the asking price up to £22,419.

For a company car driver on the 20 percent rate, that means a monthly bill of £75 for this particular model.

Ride comfort compromised

Aboard the Mokka there’s ample space for four adults to sit in comfort – five would be do-able, but more of a squeeze – but overall wellbeing is compromised by the Vauxhall’s ride quality.

Coping with deeper ruts and undulations over poorly surfaced roads doesn’t pose the Mokka any serious questions it can’t answer well enough, the issue arises on smoother asphalt, as typically experienced on dual carriageways and motorways.

Here the Mokka seemed to constantly react to most minor imperfections in the road, transmitting a long series of jiggling motions to the occupants. Those vibrations detract from the Mokka’s repertoire as a long-distance cruiser; the suspension damper arrangement appearing too firmly set-up.

Elsewhere, the Mokka feels safe and predictable, rather than exciting – you’re unlikely to yearn going for a drive simply because it’s sat on your drive, but it will tackle the school run and urban commutes without drama.

Should you buy one?

Part of the Vauxhall Mokka’s appeal is it looks more like a shrunken SUV and less controversial than Nissan’s Juke, although we expect Mazda’s CX-3 to prove popular thanks to looking good, too. Nevertheless, with tempting financial packages, it’s easy to see why so many people choose the Vauxhall.

While this Limited Edition version makes more sense than the range-topping SE, it does feel like a large outlay for a car of this size, even taking the impressive engine into account. Pair this engine with Tech Line trim and you’ll be looking at an £18,129 asking price, which is far more reasonable.