Opel Mokka X 1.6 diesel AWD review
Updated Opel Mokka, now an ‘X’ model, looks good, but faces a crowded crossover marketplace.
Neil Briscoe
Neil Briscoe
Pics by Dave Humphreys

Published on July 4, 2017

Good: good looking, not bad to drive, good quality, excellent infotainment, sweet diesel engine.

Not so good: pricey for its size in this spec, not roomy enough, in-house competition from Crossland X.

Opel has clearly not been studying the classic texts of inter-sibling rivalry. Cane and Abel. Elizabeth and Mary. Cleopatra and Ptolemy. Liam and Noel Gallagher. Wow, that last one in particular is a doozy...

We who ignore history are fated to repeat its mistakes, and that apparently is the path that Opel is treading, as it has not long reworked and updated its Mokka X compact crossover and yet has just launched the new Crossland X. Which is, err, a compact crossover. That costs around €20,000. Much like the Mokka X.

Of course, what's happening here is not as simple as Opel's product planners getting their dates wrong. The Mokka X we can, in a way, consider as Old Opel - a product designed exclusively in its HQ in Russelsheim, and designed to be exactly what it looks like, a compact 4x4.

The Crossland X is a product of 'New Opel.' At first partnered with, and then eventually subsumed into the PSA Group that owns Peugeot and Citroen. So, the Crossland X actually rides on the same chassis as the Peugeot 2008 and really, it's not an SUV at all. Have a look at is commodious back seats and its big boot - it's really a replacement for the Opel Meriva MPV, but MPVs aren't as fashionable as SUVs, and so the Crossland X has had to muscle in a little on the Mokka X's territory. In sibling terms, this is rather like getting Liam and Noel to share a bunk-bed.

Opel is trying to paper over these cracks by saying that the Mokka X is now more of a proper, rugged, off-roading 4x4, while the front-drive only Crossland X is more of a city car with some visual attitude.

I'm not sure about that. Yes, the Mokka X has some decent ground clearance, and our test car was specced up with four-wheel drive, but I seriously doubt that it's going to get especially far off-road. Those front and rear overhangs just look too chunky to stride over anything more challenging than a lofty kerb stone. 

Still, you can't deny that it's rather good looking. I always liked the styling of the older Mokka (which lacked an X) and the porting across of the grille and lights from the new Insignia Grand Sport has only helped the Mokka X's case. To these eyes, it looks at least as handsome as the Renault Captur, which is generally considered to be the best looking car in this class.

Inside the Opel, quality levels are good, but you can tell from some of the cabin architecture that this is an older design, done before the current Astra, for instance. Opel has updated the centre stack, though, so you get a new touchscreen, which, on our pricey Elite model, came with the latest version of IntelliLink (Opel's OS for its infotainment system), OnStar concierge service, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Those last two items mean you're more likely to be using your phone's software when driving than Opel's proprietary stuff, but the Russelsheim software is slick and nice to use, even if one or two menu items are a touch baffling. 

I'm still in two minds about OnStar, Opel's phone-based concierge service that can remotely re-program your satnav, or help you find parking, or a table for dinner. In some ways, it seems like a gimmick too far, but I can see times when it would be very handy indeed. Worth paying the annual subscription for? Not sure, but it probably depends how much time you spend behind the wheel. The other tech benefits, including emergency services calling in the event of an accident and a Wifi hotspot, are at least more clear-cut.

Other high points in the cabin are great front seats (as with so many Opel seats, they're approved of by the German bad back association, the Aktion Gesunder Rucken) and the main dials, which look pleasingly expensive.

They'd want to though, as with a price tag of €31k for the 1.6 CDTi diesel Elite model, we're well outside the Mokka's comfort zone. A basic version, at €21,995, is fine, but up here, priced against the likes of the SEAT Ateca and Skoda Kodiaq, the Mokka's lack of cabin space is starkly obvious. The rear seats just aren't roomy enough to compete at this level and the boot, at 356 litres with the seats up, is just too small for a growing family.

The Mokka X is nice to drive, though. The 1.6-litre diesel engine is a touch gruff on a cold start, but soon warms up and shuts up, and with 136hp and 320Nm of torque, it's a lively performer, although it still has that annoying Opel diesel trait of being too easy to stall at low rpm. Economy is good, though, and things like the steering and the balance of the chassis, are quite well judged, although that steering can be oddly heavy just off the straight-ahead, which can make long motorway runs rather tiring. The ride quality is also a little too firm for my taste around town, which is (despite Opel's assertions that this is a rugged, outdoorsy car) the Mokka X's natural habitat.

So, while the updates to turn the Mokka into the Mokka X are well-judged and welcome, it is a model that seems to be quietly fading into the background a touch. With the Crossland X here any day now, the larger Grandland X coming soon and a bigger seven-seat SUV in the offing, Opel is at long last staking out its seats at the SUV party. While I can see what it's trying to do, in juggling the competing brand images of the Mokka X and the Crossland X, most families will, I reckon, simply look at the Crossland's more spacious cabin and vote with their PCP deals...


Tech Specs

Model testedOpel Mokka X 1.6 CDTi AWD Elite
Pricing€31,790 as tested; range starts at €21,495
Engine1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel
Transmissionsix-speed manual, all-wheel drive
Body stylefive-door, five-seat SUV
CO2 emissions124g/km (Band B1, €270 per annum)
Combined economy60.1mpg (4.7 litres/100km)
Top speed187km/h
0-100km/h10.3 seconds
Power136hp at 3,500- to 4,000rpm
Torque320Nm at 2,000- to 2,250rpm
Boot space356 litres (seats up); 1,372 (seats down)
Euro NCAP ratingfive-star; 96% adult; 90% child; 67% pedestrian; 100% safety assist
Rivals to the Opel Mokka