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REVIEW | Why the new Mokka is Opel’s finest hour

06 July 2022 - 09:38
The most striking Opel you can buy right now.
The most striking Opel you can buy right now.
Image: Supplied

There was a time when Opel was counted among heavy-hitters like Toyota and Volkswagen in SA.  

However, the brand’s years as a serious volume pusher are far behind. Barring a miracle – or intensive planning and shrewd, strategic action – the German brand looks set to remain a fringe player in the contemporary local motoring landscape.   

If shocking green doesn’t stir you, there are milder shades.
If shocking green doesn’t stir you, there are milder shades.
Image: Supplied

Opel might have originated in Germany, but if we’re all honest, it’s not at the fore of mind when it comes to Teutonic brands. Even during those heady years in the General Motors (GM) era, there were a number of Opel products that weren’t entirely Opel per se, remixed and rebadged under Pontiac, Saturn and other monikers from the group. The Omega sedan, for example, was christened the Cadillac Catera in some markets. And the previous generation Opel Mokka? That was a Chevrolet Trax and Buick Encore in some parts of the world.   

These days, under Stellantis ownership, the crop of products relies solely on Peugeot ingredients. Identity aside, you can’t really say that’s a bad thing, especially when faced with examples like the new Mokka, based on the similarly praiseworthy Peugeot 2008.   

Three-cylinder engine packs surprising thump.
Three-cylinder engine packs surprising thump.
Image: Supplied

When the crisp-looking grey tester arrived two weeks ago, my expectation was that the experience would be nigh-on identical to the French donor vehicle. It was to an extent,  but there were aspects which gave me the impression they were desperate to imbue it with its own persona and flavour.   

Obviously, it has its own visual stamp, which is a lot edgier and more angular than its Gallic connection. A neighbourhood youngster who was clearly well-read commented that it looked like a down-to-earth Tesla Cybertruck (in the steely hue worn by our tester). You could kind of see what he was on about, surveying the sharp pleats and pointy elements of its make-up.   

A pointy side profile.
A pointy side profile.
Image: Supplied

The interior is a lot more conventional than the Peugeot. From the driver’s seat you can see ambitious power bulges sculpted into the bonnet. Instead of the 2008’s tiny, ergonomically-odd steering wheel, the contoured, standard-sized tiller of the Opel fits perfectly in the palms and doesn’t obscure the instrument cluster. The squared-off fascia and driver-centric centre stack almost puts me in mind of an old Kadett’s dashboard. Maybe that was the intention.   

Technology wise, it’s as far from that rudimentary old forebear as can be. The Mokka range has two grades, Elegance and GS Line. Our tester was the latter. It’s fully-loaded in terms of kit. On the illumination front, directional LED headlamps (and tail lamps) are on duty. Partial leather upholstery features inside, with electric adjustment for the driver and heating for both front occupants’ rears. Keyless entry and start, a 10-inch infotainment system, with navigation, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, as well as a 12-inch digital cluster are part of the deal.  

Cabin is a lot more conventional than its Peugeot relative.
Cabin is a lot more conventional than its Peugeot relative.
Image: Supplied

In terms of driver assistance, you get blind-spot monitoring, speed sign recognition, adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist and a forward-collision warning system. Should your situation become too far gone for the anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control to be of benefit, dual front, side and curtain airbags are also included.

So confident and decisive on its feet is the new Mokka, ending up in a precarious situation was the furthest thing from my mind. It rides a little higher than the average B-segment hatchback, with a ground clearance of 160mm. But the Opel retains plugged-in, tidy handling character, bolstered by a strong, boosted three-cylinder motor, displacing 1.2 litres. It’s a combination that makes for a hugely entertaining drive, with mannerisms positioning the model as a cut above category peers.   

10-inch infotainment system standard on GS Line.
10-inch infotainment system standard on GS Line.
Image: Supplied

Power delivery feels a lot more substantial than the 96kW/230Nm suggests. Meanwhile, the eight-speed automatic complies without hesitation under kick-down. The expectedly not-so-good part of the Mokka’s plucky, always-on character is its fuel consumption. The indicated average over 1,146km shown by our tester’s trip computer was 9.4l/100km. It has a 44l tank size. Claimed consumption is 6.1l/100km.

There were other, minor gripes encountered. The start button requires you to hold your index finger in for a bit longer than usually expected. The fingertip-operated gear selector needs to be tipped twice on some occasions and there are reservations about how long those rubber nubs serving as steering controls are going to last.   

No lack of luggage space.
No lack of luggage space.
Image: Supplied

But these aren’t deal-breakers and you’ll probably get used to them in time (maybe said rubber nubs turn out to be more durable than they appear). The Elegance costs R469,900 and the GS Line goes for R519,900. Opel includes a three-year/120,000km warranty and four-year/60,000km service plan.   

Expressive styling, excellent road manners, a premium interior and sprightly performance, there’s plenty to like about this new Mokka. It’s easily the most competitive product to come from Opel in recent memory.


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