The in­formed choice

AL­WYN VILJOEN checks where the Mokka slots into the cross­over com­pe­ti­tion.

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING -

OPEL’S month to month sales were up a whop­ping 122% in June, with no­table per­for­mances from the trio of new­com­ers the ADAM, Corsa, and Mokka, which sold 169, 277, 191 units re­spec­tively.

Wheels drove two of those Mokkas, both the 1,4 man­ual and auto in En­joy cladding; and can re­port there is a lot to like, along­side a few ja-well-no-fine points.

Stand out on the school run

Among the likes, top of the list is the ex­clu­siv­ity the Mokka of­fers.

No­body buys a cross­over to blend in. We pick them be­cause they stand out, lit­er­ally and fig­u­ra­tively, be­tween the hatches and bulkier Sport Util­ity Ve­hi­cles.

With such buy­ing cri­te­ria, the most pop­u­lar ve­hi­cle in this pack quickly loses its new al­lure to the bulk buy­ers, set­ting trend­set­ters free to look else­where for lesser spot­ted lines. This is where the Mokka now sits pretty. With only 191 sold in June, it still lags a lit­tle be­low that of cross­over ri­vals like the slightly cheaper Nissan Qashqai and more ex­pen­sive Mazda CX 5, and it is well be­low the sales of SA’s most pop­u­lar cross­over, the Ford EcoS­port, which sold to 740 new own­ers in June.

In­tel­lilink in­tel­li­gence

The sec­ond like is Opel’s In­tel­lilink in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem with its seven inch touch screen that dou­bles as a screen for the op­tional rear view cam­era and can dis­play photos via USB.

I have re­cently given up try­ing to pair a phone in the Maxus, and ad­mit to al­ways hav­ing to fid­dle with Ford’s sys­tem, but to link up all your mu­sic and photos in the Mokka, just se­lect phone pair­ing, scroll down to se­lect the Mokka on your phone, press yes, and you’re con­nected.

Six speak­ers pro­vide good sound and the ra­dio comes stan­dard with an aux­il­lary port.

Re­ally, re­ally comfy seats

The third like is the use of space. The Mokka is built on the Corsa plat­form, which makes park­ing at the mall easy, but its up­right stance cre­ates a lot of room in­side. The 356-litre boot can pack 105 litres more than the Juke’s 251 litres and leg room at the rear is am­ple. The front seats have ad­justable lum­bar sup­port and squabs that ex­tend for longer thighs. Opel states the Mokka’s front seats have been ap­proved by doc­tors and ther­a­pists of the ARG, an or­gan­i­sa­tion for the Ac­tion for Healthy Backs. I spent three hours straight in these seats and the old break on my tail-bone, which makes me su­per-sen­si­tive to badly de­signed seats, did not even twinge.

Not for deep ruts

Among the ja-well-no-fines are the over-sell on the Mokka’s in­trepid­ness in the wild. Opel boasts on its web­site the Mokka has “go any­where abil­ity”, so we took it there.

On rea­son­able gravel roads the high side­walls on the 16 inch wheels do smooth out rough sec­tions and won’t punc­ture at the first pot­hole. But the McPher­sons up front and rear tor­sion bars are set up for soft cruis­ing, not deep ruts, and we turned back be­fore we got to the nar­row farm tracks, not want­ing to put scratches on those curved flanks. The Mokka is a city slicker that can han­dle dry and rea­son­ably smooth gravel roads, not an axle-bender.

Cruise, don’t bruise

The 1,4 litre Turbo en­gine pro­duces 103 kW and 200 Nm, which is more power for the price when com­pared to the Qashqai and EcoS­port.

But with me and mine loaded, the Mokka weighs over two tons, and you’ll want to work that man­ual gear lever if you are the hur­ried type, for the auto is any­thing but sprightly, (I lost count af­ter 15 sec­onds dur­ing the 0-100 dash, when the wife told us to drive re­spon­si­bly). While no ro­bot racer, clever man­age­ment of the Mokka’s 200 New­tons does make for re­laxed cruis­ing. We got just over 9 l/100 km in the ur­ban crawl, but then I will in­sist on de­s­e­lect­ing the stop/start func­tion. On the open road, I got this down to be­low 7l/100 km.

It’s all rel­a­tive

Opel has strate­gi­cally priced the Mokka to of­fer the most power for the price, mak­ing this the in­formed buyer’s choice. Among its com­peti­tors, Ford’s en­try level 1,5 EcoS­port sells for a whop­ping R74 600 less than the Mokka, which ex­plains why al­most 30 EcoSports were sold each work­ing day last month, but with only 138 Nm at higher revs, the em­pha­sis is on the eco, not the sport.

Nissan’s gor­geous new Qashqai starts at only R600 less than the Mokka, but be­tween the lights its fru­gal 1,2 (85 kW/190 Nm) will strug­gle even more than the Mokka’s lit­tle 1,4 mill.

The 2,0 Mazda CX5 (121 kW/210 Nm) of­fers the best power to weight ra­tio among the cross overs, but also costs R31k more than the Mokka.

Opel of­fers a five-year or 120 000 km war­ranty, a five-year or 90 000 km ser­vice plan, with in­ter­vals ev­ery 12 months or 15 000 km.

Mokka pric­ing

1,4T En­joy R288 500 1,4T En­joy auto R298 500 1,4T Cosmo R325 500 1,4T Cosmo auto R335 500 • al­wyn.viljoen@gmail.com

PHOTO: AL­WYN VILJOEN

Those high wheels on the Opel Mokka cross­over can get you places, but avoid deep ruts.

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