In a world swarming with compact SUVs, the previous-generation Vauxhall Mokka didn’t do much to stand out from the crowd. Rival crossovers drove better, looked better and were more practical, and that competition has only intensified of late with the launch of cars such as the brilliant Ford Puma and well-rounded Mk2 Nissan Juke.
Nevertheless, the Mokka sold well, and Vauxhall’s head honchos will be hoping the dramatically reinvented second-generation car will build on its success. They’re hardly playing it safe, though: few cars are so far removed from their predecessors. The Mk2 Mokka, its maker’s second new SUV since being bought by the PSA Group (now Stellantis) in 2017, moves across to the EV-capable CMP platform used by the Citröen C4, DS 3 Crossback, Peugeot 2008 and Vauxhall’s own Corsa.
We’re running it in pure-petrol specification, with a 128bhp turbocharged 1.2-litre engine mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox. But if you’re so inclined, there’s also a 99bhp petrol option or a 1.5-litre diesel to choose from, as well as a six- speed manual. There’s the all-electric Mokka-e, too, running the same 134bhp front-mounted motor and 50kWh battery as the Corsa-e, which we ran for a few months last year.
We’re driving the sporty-looking SRi Nav Premium range-topper, which injects a hint of hot hatch pizzazz into the looks (while leaving the innards untouched) with bespoke 18in alloy wheels, red contrasting trim accents, blacked-out badges and a contrasting black roof. This spec starts from £27,775 and promises an acceptable 0-62mph time of 9.2sec, with an official combined fuel economy of 47.1mpg.
The squat, angular design is heavily inspired by the Vauxhall GT X concept car that was revealed back in 2018 as a harbinger of greater design freedom for future Vauxhall models. It gets the brand’s new Vizor front end, incorporating the Vauxhall badge and front headlights, striking L-shaped LED daytime-running lights and ‘Mokka’ spelled out stylishly across the rear, all of which is aimed at separating the car from its rivals in this saturated segment.
An injection of kerb appeal will also no doubt cultivate custom among younger buyers, who largely steered clear of the old Mokka, but whether the implied dynamism is matched by an engaging driving experience is another matter, and something we will seek to determine.