Motor-Mouth, Gordon Hall
First Drive: 2015 Opel Mokka 1.4 Turbo
An Excellent Blend
Mokka – leaves itself open to corny jokes of the coffee variety but I will desist – no mention of its being wide awake or perky; or of anything filtering or percolating through; I will not give you the skinny or latté the cat out of the bag; nor will I mock-a anything, roast it or give it beans. Promise.
Mokka is quite short at 4.28 metres but is spacious, looks rugged and purposeful without being chunky, and is nicely rounded without appearing girly. It should be a comfortable fit with male and female drivers of most ages and with city-SUV needs.
It’s the third of Opel’s New Germans to be introduced here even though it was the first of them to be released in Europe. ADAM and Corsa were no-brainers; they had to come here, but when you’re introducing your first SUV you need to do some homework first. Never mind Europe where over 240 000 were sold last year; what do South Africans want?
The B and C-segment SUV market has seen 260-percent growth, mostly at the expense of sedans in the same sector, over recent years. That provides a golden opportunity for a well-engineered and highly spec’ed medium SUV with sporty background and touch of pizzazz to enter the fray.
Mokka fits, size-wise, between Nissan’s Juke and Qashqai; two popular players. Then, just to be cruel, Opel targetted Hyundai’s iX35 which is only slightly longer, wider and a touch lower – offered more kit and priced it R44 000 lower than the Korean.
First question is which engine? GM’s naturally aspirated 1600 is okay but possibly a bit low on grunt for power-hungry South Africans – and it would suffer at high altitude where most of its intended audience lives. The 1600 diesel sounds good but 79.4 percent of buyers in the target segment prefer petrol and word is that sales of diesel powered vehicles in Europe, its traditional stronghold, are declining.
Opel’s 1400 cc, turbocharged, petrol engine with dual overhead cams in an aluminium head over a cast iron block, was the most natural choice. It produces 103 kilowatts and 200 Newton-metres in an almost seamless band of power. More than energetic enough for its intended predominantly retail customers, it’s by no means a typical fleet car.
Next question: manual or automatic? Sixty percent buy manual and 40 percent opt for automatic, so the obvious answer was “both.” Six-speed manual and six-ratio electronically controlled automatic, ‘boxes are on offer with the latter offering manual override from an “M” position just behind “D.” Shifting up and down is done by pushing a rocker switch marked + and – on top of the stick. It’s quirky but it works. A further oddball touch is the hand brake with its release button on top of the handle, rather than underneath. They’re European, so they can’t help it.
Third question: Front-wheel drive only, or an on-demand 4×4? Most crossovers never see dirt and Mokka’s ride height doesn’t suit off-road adventuring, so Opel SA decided on front-wheel only. We covered short stretches of fairly rough gravel along the familiarisation route and the Mokka acquitted itself well, so fear not. Apart from just one engine and choice of manual or automatic, two trim levels, Enjoy and Cosmo, are offered. That gives you a range of four vehicles; with R37 000 separating the kit offerings and R10 000 to step up from manual to auto.
Enjoy offers most of what anyone wants with 17” alloy wheels; tilt-and-telescope steering wheel with satellite controls; fabric seats; disc brakes front and rear with ABS, EBD and BAS; ESP; six airbags, speed-sensitive power steering; fog lights front and rear; daytime running lamps; tyre pressure monitoring; powered windows and mirrors; electronic climate control; cruise control with speed limiter; an onboard computer and remote central locking.
Cosmo versions add leather upholstery (warmed and partly electrically adjustable in front – manual height, but electrical everything else); 18-inch wheels; a heated leather-trimmed steering wheel; rear privacy glass; automatic headlamps with high beam assist; rain sensitive wipers; automatically dimming rearview mirror; power folding side mirrors; a 230-volt power supply for your laptop or other gadgets; a few trim items and a back-up camera.
Quick impressions: Enough head, knee and foot space for a 6’1” tester in the back seat, a decently sized boot, plenty of power, nice driving position, enough room to stretch out in and an excellent blend of kit and performance for its prices. Blend? Oops, I said no coffee jokes, didn’t I? Sorry.
Information gathered at a manufacturer-sponsored press event.
Prices range from R288 500 to R335 500
Engine: 1364 cc, 16-valve, DOHC four-cylinder, turbopetrol
Power: 103 kW between 4900 and 6000 rpm
Torque: 200 Nm between 1850 and 4900 rpm
Zero to 100 km/h: 9.8 seconds (m), 10.7 seconds (a)
Maximum speed: 196 km/h (m), 191 km/h (a)
Average fuel consumption (claimed): 5.1 (m) and 5.7 (a) litres/100 km
Carbon dioxide: 139 (m), 145 (a) gm/km
Tank: 52 litres
Luggage: 356 – 785 litres
Warranty: 5 years/120 000 km
Service: 5 years/90 000 km; at 15 000 km intervals
Pics: Opel SA