By Mike Torpey on 2017-03-25 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
Vauxhall Mokka X 1.6
IF there's a car out there that's really in tune with the X Factor it's the latest Mokka compact SUV from Vauxhall.
When the original Mokka hit UK streets back in 2012 it slipped quietly under the radar into an already intensely competitive area of the new car market.
Lined up against proven big sellers like the Nissan Qashqai, Ford Kuga and Skoda Yeti, it had its work cut out from day one.
But the impact it had surprised many, underlining why a simple but very practical design can win more than its share of buyers.
Now the Mokka has become the first model to introduce the X badge to be worn by future Vauxhall SUV and crossover vehicles.
While still sporting the core features that saw more than 120,000 cars sold here, the new Mokka X features a fresh interior and exterior style, a new powertrain and techno must-haves like Apple CarPlay.
A new dashboard comes from the Vauxhall Astra, the instrument panel is more straightforward and the centre stack has been designed around the seven- and eight-inch touchscreens and has fewer buttons.
The car is up for grabs with a choice of three petrol and two diesel engines and in Active, Design Nav, Elite and Elite Nav trim grades.
After heralding Vauxhall's 1.6-litre ‘whisper' diesel engine last year, the Mokka range has been extended further to include the 1.4-litre direct injection turbo petrol unit which first appeared in the Astra.
But beneath the bonnet of the tested version was the higher powered 136ps variant of the 1.6-litre CDTi diesel.
This engine needs a bit of revving to extract its full potential but there's plenty of pulling power in third and fourth gear and it is extremely economical too - my own average return was 53 miles per gallon, not far off the official 60.1 figure.
You get a good forward view from the raised driving position, though rear visibility isn't the best, and the six-speed manual gearbox is slick to use.
While there's plenty of space up front and for two across the back, the centre rear position is tight, if fine for a child.
And with kids, and the paraphernalia they bring into a car, in mind - there are no less than 19 stowage spaces in a cabin that's smart, modern and classy - and in Elite models you get soft leather seating too.
The back seats split/fold 60-40 and the boot is a fair size, with extra underfloor space if you don't have a spare wheel.
Prices are from £17,640 for a 1.6-litre 115ps petrol variant with front-wheel drive in Design Nav trim rising to £26,815 for a 1.6 CDTi Elite Nav 4x4.
Standard kit even on the most basic versions includes 18-inch alloy wheels (excluding ecoFLEX models), LED daytime running lights, front fog lights and silver roof rails.
: 3yrs/60,000 miles
Vauxhall Mokka X 1.6 CDTi Elite
Mechanical: 136ps, 1,598cc 4-cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via six-speed manual transmission
Max Speed: 119mph
0-62mph: 9.9 seconds
Combined MPG: 68.9
Insurance Group: 106g/km
C02 emissions: 21%
THE last company car I ran was a 2.0-litre diesel Vauxhall Insignia hatchback...
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