Test all limits in the Nissan Navara
Test all limits in the Nissan Navara

Kickstart your day

The all-new Opel Mokka is a luxury five-seater compact crossover that can take on the very best in this rather saturated segment of the South African market. Mary Willemse explains why.

The first thought when you hear the word “Mokka” is coffee (well, for me – as a self-confessed coffee addict – in any way!). And much like that pleasant early morning coffee shop aroma leading to a satisfying cuppa (mocha) java and a feeling of satisfaction, Opel’s new Mokka delivers quite the buzz. When this sexy little red number was delivered for our weeklong test, it immediately put a smile on my face. While the team was in two minds about it, I immediately loved it and – judging by the many appreciative glances while on the school commute – most fellow road users agreed with me. In fact, we often say that a car is a head turner – in this case, people literally stopped me at shopping malls and at traffic lights to ask what I was driving as it looked so futuristic and refreshingly different.

The styling is iconic, giving it a prominent presence. This second iteration of the brand‘s compact crossover displays great strength of character, defined by short overhangs and a wide stance. From the front, the most striking feature is the Opel visor with its futuristic design, first seen on the GTX Xperimental concept car in 2018, which brings much needed differentiation to this overcrowded segment. It features a protective strip that covers the front face of the Mokka which combines, in a single element grille, the LED lights and Opel’s lightning bolt logo (with a black-on-black subtlety that is expected in a more luxurious brand). A round of applause to the designers!

More than just a pretty face

I put the Mokka through its paces in urban traffic conditions as well as freeway driving and can, without a doubt, say that Opel has produced a winner! The powertrain brings a great balance between sobriety and performance, with the 1.2-litre turbocharged engine delivering a decent 96kW at 5 500rpm and 230Nm of peak torque.

The new Mokka’s lower weight (it is 120kg lighter than its predecessor), responsive turbo tech and low internal friction ensures an impressively frugal 5.1 to 6.2 litres/km (averaging out at 5.4 litres/km in varying conditions). Both available options – the Mokka Elegance and Mokka GS Line – are mated to an 8-speed auto box, which performed smoothly. While the ground clearance is on the lower side at 160mm, it did well along the gravel when I visited a friend living on the smallholdings.

Much like its competitors Opel brings innovative tech, that until recently was only available in luxury cars, to this segment. The Rüsselsheim engineers and designers packed the Mokka (especially in the GS Line guise) with the very latest in entertainment, comfort, safety and near-autonomous features. These include fully automated full-LED matrix headlights, which dip for oncoming traffic and switch on automatically in poor light or visibility, adaptive cruise control, driver awareness alert, lane control, road sign recognition, 360° camera view and wireless phone charging.

There’s also Forward Collision Warning with Automatic Emergency Braking and Pedestrian Detection. This means that when the Mokka approaches a vehicle or pedestrian too quickly, the system emits a warning signal and displays a message in the driver information centre. If a collision is imminent, the braking system is prepared and, if necessary, emergency braking is initiated to minimise the effects of the collision.

Digital detox

The new dash – or as Opel calls it, the Pure Panel – incorporates two large screens to leave room for only the essential buttons. But – hallelujah! – buttons still control the most important functions without having to scroll through countless menus for simple controls like the aircon and radio.

The entire instrumentation is digitalised, with everything you need to know about the drive right there and easy to understand. Opel designers have placed great emphasis on pairing things down to avoid driver distraction (a digital detox of sorts, as per the press release) – but it still is a far cry from the analogue systems I grew up with! Having said that, I found it fairly easy to navigate – but did struggle to connect my iPhone, although that (according to my tech-savvy teen) is more a “Mary problem” than an Opel problem, apparently.

As for comfort, the driver’s seat is adjustable to six axes as standard in the GS model and even has a massage function. Both models offer seat warmers and although the legroom at the back is not great, it allows adequate space for said teenager and her hockey gear. When she complained, it sounded a bit like a “Marli problem”! While the 310-litre boot space is on the smaller side, it is practically laid out to optimally use the space.

In closing

As with a good cuppa Joe, the Mokka hits all the right notes to take your day from drab to fab. While this is no performance car, the compact crossover packs quite the punch and offers good all-round economy. With impeccable styling, you’re guaranteed to stand out in a sea of similar looking crossovers. If it’s not on your shopping list yet, it should be.

Model line-up & pricing

  • Opel Mokka 1.2T Elegance: R469 900
  • Opel Mokka 1.2 T GS Line: R519 900

*For peace of mind, the Opel Mokka is sold with a 3-year/120 000km warranty and roadside assistance. Service intervals are every 12 months or 15 000km but are covered by the Mokka’s 4-year/60 000km service plan.

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