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Vauxhall Mokka-e review: Stirring up the EV mid range

(Pocket-lint) – While the number of electric cars on the road is steadily increasing, they are also dividing into a number of segments, broadly reflecting the price you’re asked to pay and the battery size, ergo the range, you’ll get for your money.

There are a few compact models with a slightly limited range, but with a price comfortably under £30,000, then there are longer range models that go from closer to £40,000 up to, well, the price of a Porsche Taycan.

Emerging between these points is a mid range of sorts; offering practical range while being slightly more accommodating, the Mokka-e joins a number of familiar models.

Design

We don’t use the word “familiar” by mistake: there’s a strong sense of family in these models, all coming from Stellantis, the super group born out of Fiat Chrysler’s merging with Groupe PSA.

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That means Vauxhall sits alongside Peugeot, Citroën and DS Automobiles so it’s no surprise to see electric models from the company that share a lot with those stablemates. The Mokka-e sits on the CMP (Common Modular Platform) like the Peugeot e-280, the Citroën ëC4, the DS 3 Crossback E-Tense, and indeed Vauxhall’s smaller model, the Corsa-e.

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From the exterior, however, the Mokka-e is about as individualistic as you might want it to. Refreshingly so too, adopting crossover stylings, high-riding and confident – and a world away from the previous Mokka model. Indeed, we’re surprised these models share the same name, given how different they are visually.

The new Mokka is easily the better looking car, better proportioned from the exterior and we love the spine down the bonnet. That’s an element of exterior design you notice from the interior, a centreline to aim at the horizon and race towards in blissful silence.

There are a number of different trim levels for the Mokka-e and these different from the combustion versions slightly. There is the SE Nav Premium, SRi Nav Premium and Elite Nav Premium, as well as Launch Edition.

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That brings some external design changes. The black roof comes with the SRi Nav Premium along with other black body details; the Elite Nav Premium gets some chrome highlights, while the Launch Edition will get leather seats. Many of the changes are in the interior tech and other smart features.

There’s no escaping that is a compact model and it feels a little smaller than the Citroën ëC4, which is longer with its sweeping coupe design. The Mokka-e suffers slightly, in the rear, where there’s not a lot of legroom, while the boot space comes in at 350 litres – pretty much the same as the other models sitting on this platform.

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But there’s plenty of space in the front of this car, with good visibility and that crossover ride height that makes for more presence on the road. Importantly the new Mokka has personality and we especially like the bold and vibrant green: it’s a refreshing statement from a company that’s not always been so overt with design.

An interior that fits

We’ve mentioned the proportions of the interior which favour the front passengers and we can see this suiting young families or those who aren’t going to expect long journeys in the rear of the car, but it’s all comfortable enough. The Citroën ëC4 feels a little larger in the rear, so might suit those with older children slightly better.

The cloth finished seats do offer support and we think the finish fits with the positioning of this car. There’s some use of premium materials on touch points, in the front doors and centre armrest, while the steering wheel is nicely finished too.

It’s not quite the same story in the rear, where the back doors are lined with hard plastics, but that’s so much easier to clean sticky fingers off than other materials, so we can’t see many complaints there.

The cabin is oriented slightly towards the driver, with Vauxhall combining the centre and driver display into one curved design. It’s still two separate displays, but it feels pretty sophisticated. It’s let down slightly by the glossy black plastics which will always need a wipe to keep them clean, but overall, it’s a good layout.

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Key to this is the inclusion of buttons for the main areas of the infotainment system, better than the implementation that Citroën used – and slightly more regular than the huge buttons in the DS 3 E-Tense, so this is a great result.

So let’s look at the tech this car offers.

Technology to keep you informed

It’s no surprise to find that, again, the interior tech offering is basically the same as the other PSA models. Vauxhall is offering a range of trims and these dictate the tech that will come in the car.

Importantly, the entry-level SE Nav Premium gets a 7-inch centre display and 7-inch digital instrument cluster, while the SRi Nav Premium gets a 10-inch centre display and 12-inch digital cluster.

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The good news is that all models have satnav, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay so you can connect your phone, all get Bluetooth, keyless starting and a whole lot more, so there’s a good level of specification.

There’s not much customisation on offer however. You can’t change the driver display and the infotainment is aimed at covering the basics rather than doing anything fancy. It’s exactly the same as you’ll find on the other PSA models.

Fortunately, as we mentioned above, there are buttons for all the major functions – audio, navigation, calling, car stats, apps and vehicle controls, with a nice central volume controller – as well as buttons on the steering wheel.

This makes for a system that’s a lot more practical than we found from Citroën, which only has a home button. Here you can easily skip from one section to the next with minimal hassle.

The stats you get on pressing the “e” buttons are rather sparse, including a bar graph showing your performance over time, which isn’t hugely useful, as well as your current average performance. It could do with a little more information, we feel, as EV drivers often what to know what is using the power.

It would also be great to have direct access to charger navigation to make it easy to find a charger when running low, but so far it only seems to be Tesla that has really nailed this.

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Overall, the important thing is that Vauxhall has covered what actually matters – with those opting for higher trims finding additional goodies, like rear USB connections on SRi Nav and up – and wireless phone charging on the Launch Edition.

Driving, battery and range

Regardless of the model you choose, the battery capacity and motors are the same across the board and the range and electricity consumption will also be pretty much the same across all models.

There’s a 50kWh battery in the Mokka-e, paired with a 100kW motor, producing 136PS and 260Nm torque. Familiar specs, yes, because as we’ve said, this is basically the same as other models on this platform.

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The given figure for range is 201 miles WLTP and we found 199 miles range listed when we got into a fully charged model. Of course this value changes based on driving averages and it’s worth saying that the car we were in had only done about 150 miles, hence the reason the averages hadn’t had the chance to skew this figure far from the baseline.

Moving on, the efficiency is again very close to models like the DS 3 E-Tense and the Citroën ëC4 that we’ve driven and we were able to average 4.6 miles per kWh in considered driving, but without making any great sacrifices. This would equate to about 230 miles.

The range of any electric car depends an awful lot on how you drive it and the Mokka-e comes with three driving modes – eco, normal and sport. It’s likely that most drivers will stick to the default normal, or move to eco to get the most from the car.

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Eco mode dulls the throttle response slightly to reduce the energy cost from acceleration, while things like climate control are also reduced to save energy – but it’s still perfectly drivable.

In addition you have the regular D (drive) as well as B (battery) options on the drive selector. Pressing the B button increases the regeneration you’ll get on lift off, taking you closer to one-pedal driving, although you will still need to use the brake to come to a complete halt in the Mokka-e.

Electric cars are great fun to drive: they are quiet, smooth and very easy, without the complication of turbos, gearboxes or clutches to deal with. As with other electric cars, you get a smooth delivery of the power, for a spritely drive.

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It’s a comfortable drive too, handling broken roads and speed bumps to keep things smooth, while avoiding excessive noise at faster speeds too. It’s a perfectly relaxing experience and while the steering is a little light at slow speeds, it does weight up as you get going.

The Mokka-e support charging at up to 100kW, which will see you back to around 80 per cent charge in 30 minutes, useful for longer drives. A Type 2 cable is supplied for charging from a wallbox, ideal for those looking at installing a home charger.

Verdict

The Vauxhall Mokka-e offers something different from Vauxhall; while the underpinnings are essentially the same as many other electric cars on the road, this is a model that looks great, while also offering a considered approach to the onboard tech.

The Mokka-e sits in the middle of the range brackets for electric cars, just above the likes of the Mini Electric and below the long range versions of the Kia e-Niro or Hyundai Kona Electric.

We can’t help feeling that there will be wide appeal with the crossover stylings and keen design, the practical approach that Vauxhall has taken on the interior and the pricing that sees it competitive with other electric rivals.

Alternatives to consider

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Citroën ëC4

Citroën’s ëC4 offers keen design, with coupe looks that ape the sylings of expensive German rivals. The performance, however, is essentially the same as the Mokka-e and the lack of buttons on the interior a little tiresome.

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Renault Zoe

The Renault Zoe offers surprising range for a small car, combined with a great interior display. It’s a little on the small side, however, so slightly less practical.

Writing by Chris Hall.

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