The Mokka is G.M.’s, new small SUV, competing with the Škoda Yeti and Nissan Juke. While many other segments of the car market are showing very limited growth, the compact SUV market grew by seven per cent in the first half 2012 versus the first half 2011. G.M. has not previously offered a model in this segment.
Research has shown that the typical Mokka customer wil lead a very active lifestyle in which leisure activities play a major role. That is why G.M. will be offering the Mokka with a lot of optional extras — like the Flex Fix bicycle carrier, for example.
Just over half of all Mokka customers are expected to opt for the front-wheel drive variant, while the most popular engine will be the 1.7CDTi, accounting for 42 per cent. of sales. The 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine and 1.6-litre are expected to account for 20 per cent. and 38 per cent. of sales respectively.
Potential customers are also predicted to be technology-savvy people who rate safety and comfort features high on their shopping list. The Mokka provides many technologies that are unique in the segment such as optional ‘ergonomic premium’ seats, several front camera system functions and Adaptive Forward Lighting.
The Vauxhall Mokka will, the Company hopes, attract customers who are new to the brand. Typically the majority of compact SUV customers (75 per cent.) are private buyers. There is a specific trim aimed at company car drivers, called Tech Line. Mokka Tech Line offers company car drivers a high level of standard specification, combined with low P11D prices and attractive benefit-in-kind charges. Not surprisingly, Tech Line models can also already be found in the Astra and Insignia model ranges.
Vauxhall is not new to the SUV market. In 1991, the Company launched the all-wheel drive Isuzu Amigo as the Vauxhall Frontera; it was British-built at Vauxhall’s Luton plant. A year later, Vauxhall began selling the Isuzu Trooper as the Vauxhall Monterey. After a brief absence from the SUV market, Vauxhall returned in 2006 with the Antara crossover.
Chassis and engines
The Vauxhall Mokka is available with either front-wheel drive or adaptive four-wheel drive. The cheapest model, which uses G.M.’s 1.6-litre petrol engine, has a five-speed manual transmission; the other engines come with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard. Additionaly, the diesel is available with a six-speed automatic.
Gerry Baker, Vauxhall’s manager of vehicle dynamics based at the Millbrook test facility in Bedfordshire, was involved with Mokka chassis development from an early stage. ‘Early prototype cars were tested in the U.K. during 2011, to establish if bespoke damper settings were required for cars sold in Britain,’ said Gerry. ‘However, there was so little difference between the final U.K. and European settings that we opted for a common set-up for all cars. The same strategy was applied after steering tests in the U.K. Finally, a large part of the Mokka’s durability testing was carried out at Millbrook.’
McPerson struts are used for front wheel location. Side load springs were added to compensate for lateral forces. Dual path strut mounts, strong anti-roll bars and double bonded handling bushings are used. Eighteen-inch alloy wheels complete with 215/55 R 18 tyres are standard on the Exclusiv, Tech Line and SE trim levels.
On the rear suspension, a U-section tubular torsion beam is mounted ahead of the wheels. This compound crank arrangement was developed in two different forms for the AWD and front-wheel drive variants. The dampers are mounted behind the rear wheels. Mini-block spring coils are deployed on the AWD variants.
The main components of the AWD system are the front axle differential, the prop. shaft, the 4x4 rear axle drive and the control module as well as the electro-magnetic multi-plate clutch. Sensors constantly supply the control modules with data such as the yaw rate, lateral and longitudinal acceleration, steering angle, wheel speed, accelerator pedal position, engine revs and torque. Under normal conditions, when the road surface is dry, the front wheels drive the vehicle forwards, keeping fuel consumption low. Depending on the road conditions, the range varies from 100 per cent. front-wheel drive to 50/50 front/rear. The latter will be invoked when, for example, there is surface water or snow on the road. When traction requires it, the electronic torque transfer device (TTD) automatically sends torque to the rear wheels.
The AWD system is activated within a fraction of a second as soon as there is wheel slip. The AWD system with all its components weighs 65kg.
Ventilated brake discs are used, measuring 300mm at the front and 268mm at the rear. Anti-lock braking is fitted, complete with cornering brake control, brake-assist and Electronic Brake-force Distribution. The Electronic Stability Program (ESP) that is standard in the Mokka includes traction control, Hill Start Assist (HSA) and Hill Descent Control (HDC); the latter ensures that speed is controlled when descending demanding hills with low friction, gravel or other difficult surfaces. It allows the driver to choose a suitable vehicle speed range from 3mph to 12mph.
Electric Power Steering (EPS) is standard across the range. The EPS system features a precise wear adjustment system that reduces friction. The Mokka EPS system provides speed sensitive steering assistance. The steering column can be adjusted for reach and rake.
All manual transmission cars are equipped with start-stop.
The turbocharged 1.4-litre petrol engine features AWD as standard. This engine has an alloy cylinder head and maintenance-free valve operation and is offered with a six-speed manual transmission. Later, it will be available with a six-speed automatic transmission.
Dual overhead camshafts with variable valve timing drive the four valves per cylinder. A variable-flow oil pump is used, as is an electronically controlled thermostat.
The 1.7CDTi turbodiesel is available with a six-speed manual box — with either front-wheel drive or AWD — or as a six-speed automatic with front-wheel drive.
The diesel uses ‘Clean Tech’ technology with pressure sensors integrated in to the cylinders, contributing to combustion control. The third generation common rail system operates with injection pressures of up to 160MPa. Electro-magnetic injectors are used.
The Mokka’s six-speed automatic transmission boasts superior efficiency compared with its predecessor, as well as a reduction in shift times and NVH. A small torque converter is used, reducing system inertia. A coil spring inside the torque converter is used to damp vibrations.
Manual gear-changes are possible on the six-speed automatic using the Active Select function, activated by a button on the selector lever. The adaptive electronic transmission control comprises a range of intelligent functions. The automatic idling helps to save fuel; this function maintains the oil pressure at an optimum level during the first forward drive clutch movement. This is made possible by sensors and regulating devices that are variable depending on the engine speed and other data. Lower loads for the axle shafts and engine supports help to reduce the noise level. The hill program varies the electronic gear shifting parameters depending on the gradient of ascent or descent.
The latest generation of Vauxhall transmissions enables more precise and smoother gear shifting. G.M. has shortened shift paths whilst at the same time reducing shift forces. To achieve this, the six-speed manual transmission was reworked with new gearwheels and modified components including the input shaft and shift fork. Friction forces on the gear lever were also reduced. A red arrow also flashes in the instrument display to help the driver use the engine more efficiently by changing up (or down).