Opel’s relaunch into New Zealand is all about electrification. A few choice quotes from the company marketing machine: “100% Electric”, “detox”, “more electric”, “Bold & Pure”, “Live Elektrisch”. And that’s all just from two scrolls on the website home page.
However, part of the Opel mission is also to sell as many cars as possible to Kiwis, which means offering a broad range at a broad price range; and battery electric vehicles (BEVs) do still carry a pretty high capital cost.
The Mokka compact-SUV is the undoubted star of the brand’s new lineup: the first of a new design language for the brand and the most high-tech of the family.
You could be forgiven for thinking Mokka is BEV-only, especially with all the advertising and press around the $69,990 Mokka-e SRi. But there is an internal combustion engine (ICE) alternative, the $44,990 SRi. Yes, same name and in fact identical specification; you cannot tell the two apart, save a couple of exhaust pipes poking out the right-hand side of the Mokka ICE’s rear apron.
Kudos to Opel for keeping things simple, but that does also highlight the price premium for pure-electric power. The BEV is $25,000 more expensive than the otherwise-identical ICE model. Yes, you get the maximum $8625 Clean Car Discount with the BEV, but even though the ICE is sans any form of electrification, it’s a very clean petrol engine (Euro 6d compliant) and you still get $1923 Discount. So the real-world difference is still just over $18k.
The Mokka is part of a much larger family from parent company Stellantis, which is going all-out on platform and technology sharing among its brands. So the Mokka is based on the same underpinnings and powertrain packages as models like the Peugeot 2008 and Citroen C4.
You wouldn’t choose one over the other based on the driving experience, because they are all very similar. Not in bad way, mind: the 1.2-litre three-pot engine is smooth and delightfully thrummy, at least once you’re under way. The engine and eight-speed gearbox combo can be hesitant at low speed, meaning you have to drive a bit more like a European. Foot-flat, in other words.
Perfomance is line-ball with the Mokka-e, by the way: 0-100km/h in 9.2 seconds is just 0.2sec behind the electric version.
The steering is nice and consistent, the chassis safe and predictable – albeit a little fussy in town on the SRi’s 18-inch wheels (the lesser Mokka Edition rides on 17in rims, might be worth a try).
So far, so good. But why choose the Opel over the Peugeot or Citroen? Stellantis has been careful to maintain clear design identities for each brand, so you’ve got familiar heritage cues from the French brands, but the German one has really gone bold with the Mokka. It’s the first of a whole new styling direction for Opel, with a boxy, flush EV-looking front (it’s called the “Opel Visor”) and some interesting detail around the car.
Same goes for the interior, which is unique to the Mokka (save some shared Stellantis switchgear) and dominated by a twin-screen digital display called “Pure Panel”. All pretty impressive, albeit slightly undermined by a weird little shade fitted to the top of the main display – it looks like an afterthought, as if it got all the way to production and somebody discovered sunlight or reflection was an issue.
But the interior as a whole is pretty impressive in look and feel, in the context of Mokka being a mainstream-price compact SUV – which it is in ICE SRi form, despite Opel NZ’s constant implication that it’s a premium German brand. There are some hard plastics for sure, but presented with interesting visual textures.
Mokka is also really spacious for a vehicle in this segment. The elevated ride height will appeal to the SUV generation (which seems to be every generation now), but in fact the driving position is relatively reclined and car-like – which is another thing we really like about the Mokka.
The SRi is bang on the price of a mid-spec 2008 or the C4, and loaded with high-tech features like adaptive LED matrix headlights and a smooth stop-and-go adaptive cruise system. You can go cheaper still with the Mokka Edition (a spec not offered for Mokka-e, by the way) at $38,990, but you miss out on the aforementioned tech as well as stuff like the fully featured AEB system (including night and pedestrian functions), black detailing/badges and the flashes of red around the windowline and wheels.
Speaking of which, local importer ADNZ is dialing back on the contrast-colour detailing from the next shipment of Mokkas, apparently in response to customer feedback. Which we reckon is a shame, because those look-at-me liveries are such a key part of what sets the Mokka apart. If you agree, and prefer the idea of a German/French fashion SUV over a French/German one, now’s probably the time to get in.
OPEL MOKKA SRi
ENGINE: 1.2-litre turbo-petrol three-cylinder
GEARBOX: 8-speed automatic, FWD
0-100KM/H: 9.0 seconds
CONSUMPTION: 5.7l/100km, CO2 130g/km (3P-WLTP)
PRICE: $44,990 (less $1923 Clean Car Discount)