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Vauxhall's drive to deal with criticism over its unrefined engines continues with the new 1.6, so-called 'Whisper Diesel', unit being installed into the Mokka small crossover.
The 136hp unit is already in the Astra, Zafira Tourer and Meriva, and this fourth installation sees an improvement in emissions and performance, on top of the massive lift in refinement that takes what was a clattery diesel and turns it into a grown-up and refined engine.
The new unit replaces the 130hp 1.7-litre engine, and the six additional horsepower comes despite a 6g/km drop in emissions that brings the Mokka down to 114g/km and into the 20% BIK band for 2015/16 - two below the old unit. That's around £6 a month for a lower-rate taxpayer, and equates to a 2.9mpg improvement.
But the bad news is that, while Vauxhall has addressed the refinement, that 114g/km figure compares with 96g/km for Peugeot's 2008, 98g/km for Renault's Captur and 104g/km for the Nissan Juke, although it is better than the 120g/km Ford Ecosport and the 119g Skoda Yeti. Though it's worth pointing out that all of the rivals have engines of 90-120hp, and none within 15 horsepower of the Vauxhall.
The new engine is £80 more expensive than the 1.7 in the same fleet-friendly Tech Line trim that includes Bluetooth, dual-zone climate control, 19-inch alloys and DAB digital radio, although the residual value is 1.5 percentage points better. That means the 41.7p per mile figure is 0.4p better than the old engine, but that's not helped by the two insurance group increase.
On the road, the new engine is a huge leap forward over the outdated 1.7, providing a well-rounded delivery without major flaws. The same criticisms of the Mokka remain overall, with most rivals offering a more user-friendly dashboard, although Vauxhall is getting on top of this. Boot space is in the middle of a class where there's not much to choose between the main players, and the Mokka handles surefootedly enough without being exciting.
Unfortunately, the cost per mile equation struggles stem from the Mokka being reasonable in the areas of price, emissions and residual value, without leading in any of them. In a basket of six competitors, it is the most powerful, but comes fourth for P11D price, fourth for efficiency and fifth for RV, leaving it fifth overall.