Facelifted Mokka, now called Mokka X, gets a much-improved interior but remains average to drive

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The Mokka X is the facelifted version of the small Vauxhall SUV that sold extremely well despite not being all that inspiring to drive.

Such a story is typical of cars in a segment that is largely shunned by enthusiasts but lapped up by everybody else. It’s one of the more lucrative markets for manufacturers, and many buyers are drawn in by style rather than substance.

Refinement isn't great with plenty of wind and road noise audible at motorway speeds

The Vauxhall Mokka counts the Renault Captur, Peugeot 2008, Ford Ecosport and Skoda Yeti among its rivals, and since its launch in 2012 it has consistently been one of the best sellers in its class.

It’s had a facelift to freshen it up inside and out, and an 'X' has been slapped on to the end of its name to indicate that it’s an SUV. Soon the X will adorn every Vauxhall SUV or crossover.

The front grille and rear end have been reworked, while inside it gets a completely new dashboard, inspired by the Vauxhall Astra's, and all for a price hike of around £800 across the range. It also gets a new, higher-powered 154bhp 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine, available with all-wheel drive and an automatic transmission.

We’re driving the 138bhp 1.4-litre turbocharged engine, paired to a six-speed manual gearbox with front-wheel drive. But the rest of the engine range is made up of an 108bhp 1.6-litre petrol, and two variants of Vauxhall’s turbocharged 1.6-litre diesel engine – producing 108bhp and 134bhp respectively.

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The first-generation Mokka wasn’t very refined and had a poor ride and an old infotainment system. Have these tweaks addressed enough of those issues to make it a more recommendable package?

Is the Vauxhall Mokka X more appealing?

The biggest change is inside the car. The dash has been completely redesigned to rid it of the confusing cluster of buttons the first model had, replacing it with the firm's more recent layout. It’s a much sleeker-looking design and comes generously equipped across the range.

There are four core trims to choose from – Active, Design Nav, Elite and Elite Nav – plus a wealth of options that you can bolt to the new Mokka.

As standard in Active trim it gets Vauxhall’s IntelliLink 7.0in touchscreen infotainment system, OnStar (Vauxhall’s 24/7 emergency assistance and concierge service) and DAB radio, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard. There is also dual-zone climate control, cruise control and parking sensors included too.

Upgrade to Design Nav and the Mokka X gains sat nav and an 8.0in touchscreen display, while the range-topping Elite models include a leather upholstery and heated front sports seats and steering wheel. Elite Nav models gain sat nav as standard.

These changes go some way to bringing up the overall quality of the interior, which Skoda may not match the fit and finish of the Yeti but certainly gives everything else in the class a run for its money.

In terms of practicality, the Mokka X straddles the line between a Renault Captur and Nissan Juke, offering more space than the latter but less than the former. There’s plenty of space in the front seats thanks to the car's tall proportions, but it’s pretty cramped in the back. It’s also got a smaller boot than the Captur, but with the Mokka X the boot has no load lip to negotiate, so it's easier to chuck things into the back.

Can the Mokka X impress on the road?

The Mokka has previously been let down by the way it drives, and with this facelift only addressing cosmetic issues, it remains largely unchanged and still pretty average from behind the wheel. 

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But you're unlikely to be looking at a car in this segment for driving thrills. This 1.4-litre engine is fairly peppy and will be quick enough for most. It’s strong enough to cope with B-road overtakes and motorway journeys, and the power is delivered pretty smoothly across the rev band. 

It does feel a little flat at low revs but it’s quieter than the 1.6-litre diesel. That said, it will still let you know when you’re working it too hard above 3500rpm, which you have to do in order to make quick progress. This engine is available with an automatic transmission, but the six-speed gearbox with which our test car came was accurate and had a positive throw.

It’s not outstandingly efficient, though, this petrol. Claimed fuel economy of 47.1mpg is less than its rivals (although they are slower), and high CO2 emissions of 140g/km will keep fleet buyers away. Still, we’d point private buyers towards this engine for the best blend of performance, economy and value. There will also be some tempting finance deals around for those that like to haggle.

All-wheel drive is available for an additional £1700, so you’re better off keeping with the standard front-wheel drive layout if it’s not a necessity.

The steering is light, quick and accurate but doesn’t offer much feedback. There’s plenty of grip even in front-wheel-drive models and it’s fairly agile, keeping body roll surprisingly well in check through the corners for a car of its build, but the ride is quite crashy over most surfaces. 

Refinement isn't great either, with plenty of wind and road noise audible at motorway speeds, making longer journeys a bit more uncomfortable.

Many have already stumped up for a Mokka, and many more will doubtless do so for the new Mokka X now it has a better interior. Its strong finance deals will almost certainly continue to attract buyers, too. Ultimately, the Mokka X does now offer a more rounded package.

But it is still only average in most departments, and it’s a bit more expensive than before for private buyers. Plus, for similar money you could have a Skoda Yeti or a Renault Captur, which are both better cars in terms of space and dynamics.

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