Opel Mokka 1.2 Turbo GS Review: Its French Genes Have Made It Vivacious

Text by James Wong; Photos by Horizon Drivers' Club
7 Jun 2022
 

On the move, the jewel of the car has to be its engine.

Opel may be German, but its latest Mokka is really rather French inside. 

Built on the Common Modular Platform (CMP) of the PSA Group of Peugeot and Citroën fame (which later merged with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles), it also uses a 1.2-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol from PSA, more commonly known as PureTech.
 

Because the prior Mokka was actually a GM product (so is it still German?), the new Mokka is really a sea change. I recall the GM-built Opels to be rather decent, but were always trapped in a ‘7-8/10ths of a Golf’ kind of situation, as an old friend opined.
 

The new Mokka suffers none of that comparison. While past Opel designs were neat but ultimately forgettable, the new car has gained striking looks that hardly anyone would not call handsome. Bless the French to understand style and sophistication! One suddenly wonders why Opels didn’t look this good before, as the distinctive Opel elements still remain but are now artfully pieced together. The design really is a home-run. 
 

The interior also feels cutting-edge and modern, yet doesn’t feel overwhelming to use like in a new Volkswagen. Climate controls have been sensibly kept as physical buttons, while all essential controls are logically placed in the centre console (although one flaw is how small the button is to select Park). The infotainment system is not snappy, but it is at least reasonably easy to use and aesthetically pleasing. There is a 180° rear view camera which is a nice option for this segment. I had issues connecting to Apple CarPlay though. 

Some tactile touchpoints are also lovely, like the sturdy indicator stalk & wiper controls, as well as the reassuringly hefty doors and boot. However, the interior does feel small, especially for rear passengers, and the boot seems to struggle a little with my child’s pram and other items. 
 

On the move, the jewel of the car has to be its engine. Peppy, eager and even tuneful, the little engine bangs through the gears almost like a mini hot-hatch engine; the snappy 8-speed auto helps too. It loves to rev like other 3-pots, and it is well-worth bringing it to the redline. It truly feels way more powerful than one would expect, with 130 hp and 230 Nm on paper and a 0-100 km/h time of 9.2 seconds. It’s not fast, but you’d be compelled to wring every horsepower out of it.  

However, a caveat is that all this fun is when the engine is on boost. Off-boost, it can feel a little laggy. When this happens, it becomes a slightly jerky experience as the gearbox attempts to make up for the lag with a downshift. It is exacerbated when there is no auto brake hold function, so jams can be a nodding affair. But all in all, the engine is astonishing for what it can mete out for its size. That said, fuel consumption is rather high as well. I averaged 9.4 L/100km for a distance of some 250 km. 

The Mokka has the potential to make good use of this stellar drivetrain, with agility and chukability all within reach. However, the steering is quite light and thus erases some confidence to drive fast, while its suspension can throw the car off its flow with its sport-inclined setup, sometimes feeling knobbly. Usually the French have really comfort-biased suspension for their equivalent cars, so this seems to be one area that was intentionally adapted to Opel’s tuning. At least the car is super refined, with ambient and road noise struggling to intrude into the cabin. 
 

The Mokka seems to be the most appealing Opel on the market today by virtue of the product alone. I think many will be genuinely impressed with how the car drives, and vindicates PSA’s inputs into Opel. It’s not merely an alternative, but a serious contender against the mainstream offerings. 

In Summary

We Like

A well-optioned little crossover that has really given everyone a pleasant surprise. Looks good, drives fairly well and competitively priced.

We Don't

Suspension could feel harsh and upset the ride. Interior and boot space is sufficient for a small family but not much more.

Verdict

An excellent effort from the 'new' Opel, we can't wait to see what else is in store!

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