MO­TOR­ING

In an am­bi­tious prod­uct of­fen­sive, Opel aims to bring five new mod­els to the re­gion over the next year. wheels’ Sony Thomas takes Mokka X, the first of these for a spin around town

Friday - - CONTENTS - PHO­TOS BY STE­FAN LINDEQUE

Mercs, Audis and BMWs be warned. There’s an­other Ger­man mak­ing waves in town. It goes by the name Opel and its new Mokka X is quite a looker.

Opel is big in Europe. The brand, which has been around for more than 150 years, has been in the au­to­mo­bile busi­ness for over a cen­tury. It’s con­sis­tently been one of the best-sell­ing au­to­mo­tive brands in the con­ti­nent for decades. How­ever, Opel’s dal­liance with the Mid­dle East has not been any­where near as steady. Af­ter a rocky re­la­tion­ship in the early noughties, the Ger­man brand (now owned by France’s PSA Group) came back to the UAE in early 2013, with a strong line-up of cars in­clud­ing hatch­backs, sa­loons, coupes and MPVs sold through Lib­erty Au­to­mo­biles. But de­spite bring­ing a range of de­cent cars, Opel has yet to make a sig­nif­i­cant dent in the mar­ket. Chang­ing this is what the new Mokka X cross­over is tasked with.

Since its launch in 2012 as the Mokka, this com­pact util­ity ve­hi­cle has found more than 600,000 homes world­wide. The Mokka X that has now been launched in the UAE is in fact a mid-life facelift of the orig­i­nal Mokka. And ‘X’ is Opel’s new iden­ti­fier for all its SUVs and CUVs. Al­though it’s a facelift, it’s quite a sig­nif­i­cant one. Ev­ery­thing from the grille to the head­lights and bumpers have been changed. The head­lights are nar­rower and sleeker than be­fore and get a sig­na­ture LED strip at the top. Bumpers at the front and back have been sculpted to look more ag­gres­sive than the plain old ones, and the tweaked tail­lights round out the cos­metic changes. The cabin has also been spruced up with a new dash­board that’s taken cues from the new As­tra hatch­back. The touch­screen is now in­ter­grated into the cen­tre stack, and acts as an in­ter­face for the In­tellilink in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem.

In the UAE, the Mokka X comes equipped with a 1.4-litre tur­bocharged four-cylin­der en­gine, which, mated to a six-speed au­to­matic

This turbo four-banger is fairly perky and does the job that’s ex­pected of it in this seg­ment pretty well.

trans­mis­sion, is good for 140bhp and 200Nm of torque. This turbo four-banger is fairly perky and does the job that’s ex­pected of it in this seg­ment pretty well. It feels a bit flat at low revs but that’s mo­men­tary and over­all power de­liv­ery is smooth across the rev band. This makes the Mokka X a de­cent op­tion for high­way cruises, and the sus­pen­sion has been set up with a view of of­fer­ing a sup­ple, com­fort­able ride. How­ever, don’t ex­pect it to pro­vide much by way of driv­ing thrills, as the han­dling is rather unin­spir­ing. The steer­ing is light and quick to re­spond but al­ways leaves you feel­ing dis­con­nected from the road. But for a vast ma­jor­ity of buy­ers in this seg­ment, be­ing en­ter­tained be­hind the wheel is way down the pri­or­ity list.

The Mokka X is up against some stiff com­pe­ti­tion from the likes of Nis­san’s Juke and Ford’s Ecos­port, which are quite com­pet­i­tively priced. But it does make a case for it­self with a de­cent amount of kit packed into its top-spec vari­ant. Our tester, with its rather daft ‘En­joy Plus’ trim des­ig­na­tion, comes with many con­ve­nience and safety fea­tures in­clud­ing auto head­lights, rear-view cam­era, park­ing sen­sors front and back, high-beam as­sist, tyre pres­sure in­di­ca­tor, and even front cor­ner­ing lamps, which are all great for a car with a Dh78,000 price tag. You can also buy the base model for Dh71,000. It’s not the best cross­over on the mar­ket, but def­i­nitely one worth con­sid­er­ing if you want a dif­fer­ent brand than the ubiq­ui­tous Ja­panese, Korean and Amer­i­can com­pacts.

The bumpers have had a de­sign tweak which makes them more ag­gres­sive-look­ing than be­fore

The cabin styling is mod­ern, seam­less and clut­ter free

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