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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 23 June 2018

Road test: 2018 Mokka X

Perky packaging and generous kit may make the small SUV appeal to some, writes Gautam Sharma

Opel is a household name in Europe, excluding the United Kingdom, where the same vehicles wear Vauxhall badges, but any mention of the brand tends to elicit blank stares in our region. The historic German marque hasn’t managed to carve a sizeable foothold in the UAE, while its GM stablemate Chevrolet outsells it here by many multiples.

The Mokka X is a diminutive crossover SUV that shares its base building blocks with the more ubiquitous Chevrolet Trax. That German cred – the Mokka is, ahem, built in South Korea – entails a hefty price tag. The Mokka X Enjoy tester with which I have been entrusted costs Dh84,000, compared to a starting price of less than Dh70,000 for the Trax. That said, the Mokka does come loaded with features, including four airbags, dual-zone air conditioning, a touchscreen stereo with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, LED headlamps, front and rear fog lamps, rear-view camera, front and rear-park sensors, rain-sensing wipers and 18-inch alloys. You also get a five-year warranty, complimentary servicing for three years/60,000 kilometres and free insurance for one year.

Apart from the Trax, the Mokka X also faces opposition from the Renault Captur, Ford EcoSport and Nissan Kicks, so it has its work cut out. Unlike its rivals, the Mokka X is propelled by a turbo motor – a 1.4-litre unit with 140hp and 200Nm of torque. These outputs sound healthy on paper, but out in the real world, the engine feels wheezy at low to middling revs. It isn’t too bad once you have got the thing percolating, but your patience could be tested as Toyota Camry taxis blast away from you at the traffic lights. The six-speed auto isn’t the most quick-witted unit, either – you need to stomp on the throttle vigorously to prompt it to downshift.

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The Mokka X does most things acceptably well. It rides with an OK level of compliance and it isn’t an excessively noisy cruiser on the highway. The lofty Opel doesn’t particularly enjoy being flung at corners, though, with a fair bit of body roll and squealing understeer, but this isn’t likely to deter its target audience, who are likely to pedal it more sedately.

It is unexceptional in the driving department, but where the Mokka X might find favour with buyers is via its perky packaging and generous kit levels. It looks decent enough for what it is – an on-tiptoes SUV that occupies only a bit more road space than a Toyota Yaris. Measuring less than 4.3-metres long, it is easy to slot into confined shopping mall car parks, and the rear-view camera takes the guesswork out of reversing parking.

The rear seats offer adequate leg- and headroom, but the seat back is so upright that you might hear a few complaints from back-pew dwellers. Luggage space is tight, too – its 356-litre capacity is eclipsed by even the smaller Captur. On the plus side, the boot floor is level with the rear bumper, so you don’t have to heave heavy items over a large lip. There are also handy bag hooks and a small storage compartment on the side.

The Mokka X offers the allure of a Euro badge and some funky styling elements, but the fact is there are more capable alternatives out there – and at lower prices. It may sell well in Europe, but it is too costly here

The specs: 2018 Opel Mokka X

Price, as tested: Dh84,000

Engine: 1.4L, four-cylinder turbo

Transmission: Six-speed auto

Power: 142hp at 4,900rpm

Torque: 200Nm at 1,850rpm

Fuel economy, combined: 6.5L / 100km