We drove the Opel Mokka 1.2 Turbo 130 HP: the unique panache of a four wheeled lightning …

Opel cars carry proudly the iconic lightning or “Blitz” badge, and this since the Opel-RAK 1 or rocket record car made an unforgettable impression in March 1928, when it achieved 75 km/h and more than 100 km/h in April of the same year.

The Opel group was also working on liquid-fuel rockets in those days: In a cabled exclusive to The New York Times on 30 September 1929, Duke von Opel is quoted as saying: “Sander and I now want to transfer the liquid rocket from the laboratory to practical use. With the liquid rocket I hope to be the first man to thus fly across the English Channel.” It announced the dawning of a new age: that of rocket propulsion.

But we will stay with both feet on the ground, and enjoy the four wheeled products of the brand. And I must admit, I did already enjoy them massively in my early automotive life. My first Opel I tested as a car journalist was in 1968, actually replacing my father Theo ten Bensel, then Editor of weekly illustrated “De Post”. It was the beautiful Opel GT 1900, driven in the surroundings of Port Grimaux.

In the summer of 1971 we made a high speed trip to the Austrian Grand Prix in Zeltweg, with a Manta 1900, having the same 102 HP engine as the sleek GT two seater, coupled to three-speed TH-180 automatic. The Manta proved to be not only fast, it excelled with a stable, wonderful handling, making it a true Gran Turismo. Since then, my admiration for Opel cars was born.

When I slid behind the wheel of a Mokka, superb looking in its black livery, I immediately was again seduced by the no-nonsense Opel efficiency, build quality and style. Opel adopts in-car connectivity and instrumentation with the philosophy of “less is more”, and indeed the dashboard is an example of user friendliness and simplicity.

But it is stylish too. The new Mokka was the first model with the Opel Vizor as the future brand face, and indeed it symbolizes very well what Opel this decade wants to look like: pure, precise – reduced to the essentials. Like a full-face helmet, the Opel Vizor organically integrates the grille, the headlights and the brand logo in one single module that covers the new Opel face.  

The Mokka is also well proportioned: its bold looks are characterized by short overhangs and a well-planted, wide stance. It’s also is 12.5 centimetres shorter than the predecessor – despite the 2.0cm-longer wheelbase.

We told you about the first generation “A” Opel Manta. It inspired the initial concept of this elegant feature: for the new Mokka, the designers literally reinvented the Manta’s grille with twin headlight-modules on a black surface, framed by a thin chrome bar.

The legendary “Blitz” brand logo we also told you about has been redrawn and will adorn all upcoming models from the German carmaker. The surrounding ring is now slimmer, more elegant, more precise. This emphasizes the “Blitz” even more. All details are super sharp with a very small radius. The ‘Opel’ lettering is integrated in the lower part of the ring.

At the rear, The Mokka nameplate, executed in sharply crafted lettering, stretches in a wide landscape format to emphasize the width of the vehicle, “pure”, without irritating additives such as equipment lines or displacement abbreviations. It sits centrally on the tailgate below the legendary Blitz. Nice!

Under the hood: a variety of drivetrains…

The multi-energy platform CMP (Common Modular Platform) allows a variety of powertrains. Opel offers the Mokka-e with 100kW (136hp) electric drive, which we drove in beautiful Flemish Pajottenland at the end of last year. (See https://autoprova.be/2022/12/07/opel-mokka-and-the-best-barista-in-the-world/)

But it there are of course the well proven 1,2 litre three cylinder petrol engines with power outputs ranging from 74kW (100hp) to 96kW (130hp).

This engine family takes centre stage in the Stellantis Group and is found in virtually all brands and models. We tested here the 130 HP version coupled to the equally well proven 8 speed auto box, which we also find in many Stellantis models. Compared with the Citroen C5 X we tested with the identical drivetrain, it made a more sophisticated impression, with less vibrations and generally smoother pickup. Performance leaves also here nothing to be desired, with a top speed of a solid 200 km/h and an acceleration time from 0 to 100 km/h in 9,2 seconds. You guessed it: this is by and large the performance of the original Porsche 911. Not bad…

Of course, very Porsche untypical is the consumption: this is where enormous progress is made over the years: where the 60’s Porsche would consume well over 13 liters/100 km in town, the 1,2 litre Mokka will consume about half, and even less, with an average of 6-5,9 litres. On the open road, the differences are just as large. Cautiously driven, the vintage Porsche would consume 9-9,5 liters on the open road, the Mokka will chalk up merely 4,3 liters… These WLTP figures require a very sensitive foot, and indeed also ask for rather sensitive cruising speeds, but let’s face it, what has been reached over the years is just enormous. This, lets’ not forget, will make our modern petrol engines future proof for many years to come…

We just loved the three cylinder throb of the engine, which was overall quiet anyway, and this made driving this Mokka a genuine pleasure.

Add to all this the impeccable handling, then you understand this Mokka is indeed a driver’s car. It does not have the absolute eagerness of a pure sports car, but is stability and steering precision is certainly inviting you to drive it with spirit. It feels at home in town, as it is smooth at slow speeds, and on the Autobahnen it is a true master. This is a machine built for (very) high cruising speeds, for hours on end. On country roads, its positive handling and stability lets you also tackle the route with verve.

Efficient aerodynamics

Of course, to make this Mokka a smooth Autobahn high speed master, some detailed work had to be done. So the carmaker’s engineers optimised the new Mokka’s aerodynamics in the wind tunnel of Stuttgart University (at the Research Institute of Automotive Engineering and Vehicle Engines).

Depending on the model variant, they cut the drag factor to an excellent 0.32 cD. The basis for the aerodynamic efficiency is the new Mokka’s frontal area of only 2.27 m2.

With the aid of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and attention to detail in the wind tunnel, Opel’s aero experts then chiseled down to the excellent drag coefficient by fine-tuning every detail that helps improve the aerodynamics. The engineers optimized the design of the new Mokka’s characteristic Opel Vizor, as well as the shapes of the A-pillars and the exterior mirrors. In addition, cladding covering the bottom of the engine compartment and the underside of the body improves the airflow beneath the car.

Other major sources of drag are the wheels, tyres and wheelhouses. The new Mokka therefore features innovative air curtains that increase aerodynamic efficiency in this area. An air curtain is an integrated duct on each side of the front fascia that creates a tall, thin jet of air across the face of the front wheel and tyre. The air curtain directs the flow smoothly across the wheel openings, decreasing the amount of wake and separation from these areas.

Need we say more? Yes actually. The Mokka also has…active aerodynamic shutters!

The new Mokka also benefits from an active shutter that further reduces drag and improves fuel efficiency by automatically closing the frontal opening when cooling air is least needed. Until recently, this innovation has been more common on more expensive cars from higher segments.

When closed, the shutter system enhances aero performance by redirecting airflow around the front of the vehicle and down the sides, rather than through the less aero efficient engine compartment.

The shutter is open or closed depending on engine coolant temperature and speed. For example, the shutter opens when the car is traveling up a hill or in hot city driving. The shutter closes when less engine cooling is required, for example at urban-road speeds.

The results of these efforts are impressive: compared with the previous model, which had a drag coefficient of 0.35, CO2 emissions in the WLTP2 cycle are up to 9.0 g/km lower, while drag at motorway speeds has been reduced by 16 per cent.

High tech LED headlamps and more…

But not only clever physics have been put in the Mokka. It has also a (very) fair share of high tech electronics. All models are equipped with latest generation LED lamps – from daytime running lights in typical Opel graphics to headlamps and front fog lights. The Mokka has adaptive IntelliLux LED® matrix light with a total of 14 elements. Cruise control, a smoothly operating lane assist and forward collision alert with automatic city emergency braking and pedestrian detection operates at speeds above 5.0km/h. Below 30km/h, the system can bring the vehicle to a complete stop. If the speed exceeds 30km/h however, speed is reduced and the driver must actively brake…

Inside: Opel’s “Pure Panel”

As we said, the good design continues. The structure of the Pure Panel, along two widely stretched screens, strikes a balance between digitalization and purely intuitive operation, without needing to navigate into sub-menus. We simply loved it.

The connectivity is also well served:  The top of-the-line Multimedia Navi Pro offers a high-resolution 10-inch colour touchscreen; in this configuration, the driver information display covers more than 12 inches. The Apple CarPlay as well as Android Auto compatible multimedia systems have integrated voice control.

The new Mokka also offers the OpelConnect service with a direct link to breakdown assistance and eCall. If the airbags or seatbelt tensioners deploy in an accident, eCall contacts the local Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) automatically.

Comfort and style…

Thorough seating engineering is typical of Opel. Various six-way ergonomic seats are available, which are individually adjustable. You can choose between alcantara or classic leather. What seduced us also was the GS trim of our test car. Alloy wheels in TriColor black, a black roof, black exterior mirrors and skid plates front and rear in SUV design. The Opel Blitz, the Mokka nameplate and the Opel Vizor frame are in high-gloss black. There is a characteristic red signature line across the car. The interior features a black ceiling, aluminium pedals and red décor. The black seats with side cushions in premium leather-look have red stitching and design accents…


This Mokka will wet your appetite. It’s good looking, lively, frugal, a pleasure to drive, well built and finished. It is equally at home on fast Autobahnen for fast cross country Gran Turismo driving as well as urban errands. It’s tough, built for a long life. To sum it up, it’s Opel…

Hans Knol ten Bensel  

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