FAM­ILYSTYLE

Opel Mokka previews the new Holden Trax soft-roader

Herald Sun - Motoring - - On The Web Cars Guide - JOSHUA DOWL­ING NA­TIONAL MO­TOR­ING ED­I­TOR joshua.dowl­ing@news.com.au

GM’s global Mokka-Trax SUV twins are built in a former Dae­woo fac­tory to a Ger­man de­sign af­ter Aus­tralian test­ing

AN­OTHER week, an­other faux-wheel-drive. This one comes to us courtesy of Opel, the Ger­man di­vi­sion of Gen­eral Mo­tors. We will see it in Aus­tralia first as the Holden Trax later this year, and then as the Opel Mokka early next year.

It’s all part of Gen­eral Mo­tors be­com­ing one big, happy, global fam­ily. The Mokka-Trax twins are made in Korea in a former Dae­woo fac­tory but they were de­signed and en­gi­neered in Ger­many with some Aus­tralian test­ing thrown in for good mea­sure.

VALUE

The start­ing price should be about $25,000— we won’t know un­til closer to the re­spec­tive on-sale dates.

This model will put Opel and Holden in ob­vi­ous com­pe­ti­tion for the first time. They cur­rently com­pete in the small-car class with the Holden Cruze and Opel As­tra, which are the same cars un­der­neath but have dif­fer­ent bod­ies.

The Mokka and Trax are mostly iden­ti­cal but for the de­sign of the grille and the dash­board. That is why Opel and Holden sales and mar­ket­ing teams are in a hud­dle to find out how to make th­ese cars seem dif­fer­ent in cus­tomers’ eyes.

For both groups this com­pact soft­roader can’t come soon enough. Holden just had its low­est sales in 19 years and Opel is try­ing to gain a foothold in Aus­tralia, hav­ing set up in the world’s most com­pet­i­tive new-car mar­ket late last year.

An af­ford­able con­tender in the boom­ing SUV class is cru­cial. The trou­ble is, this car is go­ing gang­busters overseas so Aus­tralia’s ini­tial al­lo­ca­tions will be lim­ited. That sigh you can hear is from Holden and Opel deal­ers.

TECH­NOL­OGY

In Europe, the Mokka has lane­keep­ing tech­nol­ogy and a tiny cam­era that can read speed limit signs. Those sys­tems are not con­firmed for Aus­tralia, partly be­cause of cost and partly be­cause our street signs are so clut­tered by ad­ver­tis­ing bill­boards as to con­fuse the cam­eras.

Top-line models have a for­ward col­li­sion alert sys­tem (though not with auto brak­ing), auto-dip­ping high beam and xenon head­lights that fol­low the di­rec­tion of the steer­ing.

Tow­ing ca­pac­ity is 1200kg braked, 500kg un­braked.

DE­SIGN

Os­ten­si­bly the cof­fee-de­rived name is due to the Mokka pack­ing a lot in a small package. For all its bold and brash pres­ence, would you be­lieve that there is a Holden Barina un­der­neath?

But don’t dis­miss it on that ba­sis. For starters, the lat­est Barina is a more ca­pa­ble car than it is given credit, es­pe­cially since the post-GFC up­grades.

The Mokka has Opel’s au­dio and air­con­di­tion­ing con­trols, which aren’t as in­tu­itive as on some other cars. But other prac­ti­cal­i­ties make up for it. There are three stor­age lev­els in the doors alone, and a de­cent-sized con­sole and glove­box. There are 19 stor­age cub­bies. You’ll never find your phone again.

The dash ma­te­rial is soft to the touch, the seats are com­fort­able and vi­sion all around is pretty good, de­spite the ta­per­ing win­dow line.

Opel and Holden would be wise to make a rear view-cam­era stan­dard on all models. Hyundai and Toy­ota have cam­eras on $23,990 hatch­backs; it would be a sin of omis­sion to not have such an es­sen­tial safety fea­ture on this fam­ily-size car.

Cargo space is av­er­age, and you have ei­ther a space-saver spare or an in­fla­tion kit in the boot. Max­i­mum vol­ume with the lat­ter is 356 litres with the seats up and 1372 litres down. That’s less than a Nis­san Dualis and not much more than a Volk­swa­gen Golf or most other small cars.

SAFETY

Six airbags and sta­bil­ity con­trol are stan­dard and in Europe it earns a five-star safety rat­ing. Also stan­dard across the range are hill-de­scent con­trol and hill-hold as­sis­tance, to help get mov­ing on steep hills.

DRIV­ING

First, the good news. Opel ships Con­ti­nen­tal tyres from a fac­tory in Por­tu­gal to Korea so that its Mokkas are fit­ted with qual­ity Euro­pean rub­ber. Here’s hop­ing Opel Aus­tralia gets the same deal.

The Trax is likely to take the Kumho So­lus tyre (as fit­ted to most of the brand’s other Korean-built cars), which is ad­e­quate in dry but has be­low-av­er­age grip in the wet.

On our first drive in Ger­many, how­ever, the Mokka was equipped with Pirelli win­ter tyres. They gripped well but it was un­clear whether they were re­spon­si­ble for the sus­pen­sion feel­ing slightly busy over bumps, or whether that was a trait of the car. We’ll re­frain from fur­ther judge­ment un­til we test it on lo­cal roads.

We drove a 1.4-litre turbo petrol model, which has a sat­is­fac­tory amount of urge, nei­ther classlead­ing nor worst. The en­gine was smooth, as was the six-speed man­ual shifter. The six-speed auto comes in Septem­ber, in time for the Aus­tralian re­lease.

As with many new cars, the Mokka has idle stop-start tech­nol­ogy. And as with most drivers of such cars, I found the off switch and left the en­gine run­ning. The Mokka’s spec sheet claims a 10.8m turn­ing cir­cle, a bit more than a small car and av­er­age for a soft­roader of this size. It felt broader.

VER­DICT

First im­pres­sions are that the Opel Mokka/Holden Trax is the best ex­am­ple yet of a glob­ally en­gi­neered, Korean-builtGM ve­hi­cle. The twins will be wor­thy al­ter­na­tives to the cur­rent crop of com­pact soft-road­ers. Holden and Opel will sell ev­ery one they even­tu­ally lay their hands on.

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