Opel is often the last name to come to mind when you think of the best German car-makers. Aware of this, the Russelsheim firm has been working away and is ready to reap the rewards. The five-door Mokka starts at €19,995 for the petrol-powered, 1.6-litre VVT, 'S', front-wheel drive only version. So, it's a well-priced alternative to a conventional hatchback like the brilliant VW Golf.

Mokka's exterior is very curvy and even car nerds would be hard pressed to find a straight line or sharp angle anywhere. The body has a very appealing, chunky look that manages to be tough without being aggressive, which broadens its market. Mounting a kerb or traversing speed bumps shouldn't pose a problem, as Mokka's raised ground clearance (relative to a normal hatchback) offers modest off-road ability.

Inside, the five-seat Mokka is really well-put together. The cabin is much larger than the exterior would lead you to believe. The seating is flexible and the cargo area functional. You will still need to know your way around Opel's unique switchgear. Opel has a way of doing things when it comes to switchgear and stereo controls; but once learned, never forgotten. Depending on trim level, there are some very classy colour combinations available to personalise your Mokka and give you a sort-of Range-Rover-Evoque-on-a-budget feel.

On the road our 1.4-litre, four-wheel drive, 'Turbo' petrol-engined Mokka delivered reasonable ride quality. Sadly the 'Turbo' badging, which hints at lively performance potential, never lived up to the name. The engine pushes out 140hp but not in a sporty way. The four-cylinder unit hangs on to any revs you have built up for a painfully long time. It's as if Opel said, 'Let's make the engine that does the opposite to an F1 engine (that drops revs in an instant)'.

The cabin is hushed and refined beyond the car's price tag. This is no surprise and a reflection of the greater emphasis that Opel has placed on attempting to make its interiors class-leading. The engine range features petrol and diesels, from tax band 'C' for the petrol 1.4 (4X4) and 1.6 (FWD) to 'A4' for the 1.7 CDTi, 130hp 'ecoFLEX' front-wheel drive. There is an automatic diesel available, too.

Options available for Mokka include a 'Winter' pack with heated seats and steering wheel, a 'Front Camera System' that provides forward collision alert, road sign recognition and lane departure warning.

Other optional extras include a high-end Sat Nav; bi-xenon, AFL (adaptive headlights) with dynamic beam levelling; rear-view camera and a space-saver spare wheel instead of the standard inflation kit. 'S', 'SC' and 'SE' are the specification levels. Mokka also features a host of safety features under the banner 'Safetec'.

With Mokka, and more importantly the 'Adam' city car, the German firm can hold its head high again. The sector is very competitive with Yeti, Juke and more coming to the market. The higher driving position compared to a conventional car is the main reason many buyers move to a crossover SUV.

Opel Mokka will pleasantly surprise you.

Michael Sheridan