Opel Mokka-e first drive: origin story

Opel Mokka-e SRi




Clean Car Rebate






  • Standout design
  • Proven powertrain technology
  • Attractive price point


  • Not exactly BEV-quick
  • Brand might carry some Holden baggage
  • ICE models might muddy the eco-message

Auto Distributors New Zealand (ADNZ) would like you to know that its new Opel brand is German. The cars are designed in Germany. Opel is the fastest-growing German brand in Europe (up 21 per cent overall and 110 per cent in pure-electric vehicles).

ADNZ proudly claims Opel is now the lowest-emission German brand on sale in NZ. It’s German, you know.

auto, autos, car, cars, opel mokka-e first drive: origin story

You could argue the company doth protest too much about Opel’s origins. German cars are still considered quite aspirational here, so there’s that. But the overwhelming emphasis on Opel’s Germanic character also reflects a desire to leave the past behind: the brand’s history with General Motors and Holden, for example.

That is very much the past, because in 2017 Opel became part of Peugeot-Citroen, and then the whole lot became part of Fiat-Chrysler under the newly formed Stellantis group. It’s now the world’s fourth-largest carmaker. So it’s the German arm of a motoring mega-concern.

The German thing is also a convenient way of distancing the new Opel models from sister (French) Peugeot-Citroen products; all share platforms and powertrains and all are part of ADNZ in this country.

“We don’t see Peugeot and Citroen necessarily as competitors,” says Opel NZ commercial manager Noah Robertson. “We see our competitors more in terms of the German manufacturers… we’ve based our pricing really aggressively against Volkswagen.”

auto, autos, car, cars, opel mokka-e first drive: origin story

The hero product for Opel in NZ is the Mokka, a compact SUV that relaunched the brand in Europe with a new look and new technology. The big news for Kiwi buyers is the Mokka-e, a battery electric vehicle (BEV) with a 50kWh power pack – same basic underpinnings as the more expensive Peugeot e-2008 – that gives 363km range and costs $69,990, meaning you can also scoop up a $8625 Clean Car Discount.

To be fair, ADNZ has a number of non-German models in its sights with this car: the BYD Atto 3, Hyundai Kona Electric, MG ZS EV and Kia Niro EV. Some even-more-expensive BEVs that still duck under the $80k Clean Car Discount cap, like the Hyundai Ioniq 5, are also in the frame.

The Mokka-e only comes in fancy SRi trim and is specced to the brim, with a full suite of driver-assistance tech, matrix headlights and “tailored ergonomic” seats. You can also order it with a distinctive black bonnet/roof and brightly coloured garnish where chrome would otherwise be; which you must, obviously.

auto, autos, car, cars, opel mokka-e first drive: origin story

We’ve had a very brief spin around the block – enough to turn heads in the more fashionable suburbs (it did) and enough to at least get a feel for the new car, although we’ll serve up a proper review soon. The Mokka-e is BEV-smooth, calibrated for linear rather than silly acceleration (0-100km/h 9.2 seconds). It has the high ground clearance of an SUV, but the seating position is actually quite reclined and car-like. Which we like.

Some elements of the basic infotainment OS are familiar from Peugeot-Citroen, but the interior architecture is all Opel’s own and the Mokka features Pure Panel, a digital display that wraps two screens (one 12in, the other 10in) around the driver, cockpit style. It’s crisp, clean and pretty impressive.

Opel is not all about BEVs. There’s also an internal combustion engine (ICE) version of the Mokka, with a 1.2-litre three-cylinder powertrain – again, borrowed from Peugeot, although the German brand has the latest eight-speed automatic, while the French equivalent is still soldering on with a six-speed for now.

auto, autos, car, cars, opel mokka-e first drive: origin story

Opel is a new-to-NZ brand that has committed to be BEV-only in Europe by 2028. So why bother with ICE here at all?

“We want to provide a full range at more accessible price points and those price points come from ICE,” says Robertson. “Because the majority of the market is still not EV, we want this brand to represent low emissions, but with a full range at different prices.”

The Mokka Edition 1.2 illustrates the point: at $38,990 it’s a handy $31k cheaper than the BEV version, although you need to step up to the $44,990 Mokka SRi (ICE) to match the electric model’s specification. Both petrol cars still get a $1923 Clean Car Discount.

The Mokka ICE is where Opel is targeting VW most obviously, with its sights set on the fellow German’s T-Cross and T-Roc SUV models.

auto, autos, car, cars, opel mokka-e first drive: origin story

While Mokka is the Opel of the moment, it’s not the only Opel for NZ. We’ve also had a quick look at the Corsa-e (same BEV powertrain as Mokka-e but with 383km range): a close relation to Peugeot e-208 and priced at $59,990 – so again, cheaper than the French car. The Corsa will also come in ICE format ($36,990).

A blend of powertrains continues with the Astra hatch (larger sibling to Corsa) and Grandland SUV (bigger than Mokka, based on the Peugeot 3008); both come with the choice of ICE or plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) power, with pricing still to be announced.

The first shipment of Opels arrived just last week. Around a quarter are for dealers, others are pre-ordered (over half of those are BEVs) and there are a “handful” still available for customers, says Robertson, without talking specific numbers.

auto, autos, car, cars, opel mokka-e first drive: origin story

There will be a full range of Mokka, Corsa, Astra and Grandland on stream in the first quarter of 2023, across nine dealers. Order a particular specification of Mokka (rather than one that’s already built and on a boat) and the wait time is around four months. Which is not too bad in these times when you can’t get some mainstream Toyotas for months – or years in some cases.

Even with those ICE models in the mix, ADNZ claims Opel is NZ’s cleanest “generalised” brand and number three overall, behind Tesla and BYD (both BEV-only).

OPEL MOKKAENGINE: 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbo-petrol (ICE) or 50kWh lithium-ion battery with single electric motor (BEV)POWER: 96kW/230Nm (ICE) or 100kW/260Nm (BEV)GEARBOX: 8-speed automatic (ICE) or single-speed (BEV), RWD0-100KM/H: 9.2sec (BEV)CONSUMPTION: 6.0l/100km (ICE) or 15.8kWh/100km (BEV), Mokka-e range 363km (WLTP)
PRICE RANGE: $38,990-$69,990 (less Clean Car Discount)

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