Opel’s attractive new SUV has made landfall this past week and our man who got behind the wheel was Braam Peens. Here is what he had to say about the new Opel Mokka 1.2T GS Line 1.2T A/T.
Undoubtedly, the biggest disservice one can do to the new Opel Mokka is to compare it to the old one, which felt tired even when new.
It survived the then-PSA Group’s (today the 16 brand-strong Stellantis, established in January 2021) buyout of Opel in 2019 before being kept on life support for another year.
Still, if it failed to reach the high water mark, it doesn’t mean it lacked purpose; and in this instance that was to contribute the unstoppable rise of the compact crossover – to rewrite history at the cost of the C-segment hatch and sedan.
Today, with tyre kickers demanding elevated seating positions and sumptuous spec lists for the least amount of dead presidents spent, one in four cars sold in South Africa are hatches-on-stilts. Enter the second-generation and vastly modernised Opel Mokka. Quick to cash in on its fresh family ties, the new Mokka utilises Stellantis’s Common Modular Platform, and shares its underpinnings with (amongst others) the Citroën C4, Peugeot 208/2008 and Opel Corsa.
Even so, a Corsa merely stuffed into a pair of Timberlands it is not. Rather, the Mokka is one of the first releases to adorn the company’s new face, dubbed “Vizor design.” If the spelling skills of Opel’s marketing team are open to question, the same cannot be said of that of their design counterparts: Fresh-faced and futuristic, the new Mokka features crisp, sharp lines far removed from the rounded chubbiness that marred the old model.
Although EV and turbodiesels complete the range in Europe, South African-spec Mokkas are only available with Stellantis’s ubiquitous 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol turbo engine, which is good for 96 kW and 230 Nm and paired with an eight-speed paddleshift automatic transmission.
R469 900 nets you the lower grade Elegance edition; and another R50 000 on top of that unlocks the GS Line. Externally, only chrome finishes rounding off the front and rear bumpers and a different wheel rim design set the two derivatives apart. Headline standard equipment in the base model comprise 17-inch black alloy rims, heated front seats, LED head- and taillights, climate control, a self-dimming anti-dazzle rear-view mirror, six airbags and an active safety package (consisting of speed sign recognition, lane keep assist, manual cruise control and pedestrian detecting brake assist).
Beyond the abovementioned, the GS Line swops leather for its lesser sibling’s cloth seat trim and receives a massaging function for the front two occupants; as well as keyless entry, adaptive cruise control, active collision avoidance and full matrix LED headlights that self-select the optimal setting from an impressive six different speed settings.
Inside, Opel says they have gone to great lengths to declutter the Mokka’s cockpit. As has become the norm, driving information is therefore presented via screen instead of mechanical dials; while another display to the centre of the dashboard provides infotainment and – in the GS Line – navigation. The gear selector is a circuit breaker-style slider instead of a lever and the designers have smartly opted to leave five physical shortcut buttons below the centre screen that fast-track sub-menu selection.
The modest 160mm ground clearance perchance provides the truest tell-tale of the Mokka’s intended purpose. The 17-inch tyres add to its visual presence but thankfully do not translate into a crashy ride. The suspension, and entire powertrain for that matter – makes a for a pleasant (and quiet at legal speeds), if uninvolving experience – behind the wheel. If such matters matter, comparatively an Audi Q2 offers an equally commanding position of the road but lists less when challenged dynamically.
Is the new Mokka a good buy or a goodbye? The category for compact SUVs knows no limit, and at this price point manufacturers tend to either err on the side of high standard specifications; or more space as shoppers are either buying down or simply expect more for their money.
Considering the extensive features list, it’s clear to see which direction Opel has chosen for the Mokka. And that’s no bad thing.
Having said that, while the commonality of its shared componentry is by no means unique to the machinations required to survive in the piranha pool of today’s automotive enterprise, given Opel’s once-illustrious history, the convenient if necessary artifice of its borrowed DNA makes it challenging to subjectively identify a standout personality in the new Mokka.
Perhaps that’s the point. New (and in the case of the Mokka – tarred urban) paths exist to be found and trails to be blazed, with drivers as the masters of their destiny; where sometimes divorce from the tentacles of history are a benefit instead of a burden.
It’s a brave new world.
Model: Opel Mokka Elegance 1.2T GS Line
Price: R469 900
Engine: front-mounted, turbo, 1 199cc, straight-three
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Power: 96 kW @ 5 500 rpm
Torque: 230 N.m @ 1750 rpm
Driven wheels: FWD
0-100 km/h: N/A
Top speed: N/A
Fuel consumption: 6,1 l/100km (combined)
CO2 emissions: 139 g/km
Rivals: Audi Q2, Volkswagen T-Roc, Volkswagen T-Cross, Renault Koleos, Hyundai Kona, Mazda CX-30, Peugeot 2008
Words: Braam Peens