Auto Tech

Cutting through the bull: Vauxhall Mokka

Marketing can be a horrible, horrible thing. Luckily, we've got Dave Ross to guide us through the minefield.

Vauxhall
Vauxhall

There was a time when cars had sensible names. Names like Marina and Capri. Or Princess. They were reassuring; they were names that conjured up the exotic so that middle-aged men in Kidderminster could imagine that if they drove one that they, too, would be the dashing man about town who woman would want to touch inappropriately.

It was a time when marketing really sold cars. In fact I don't think I've ever seen an advert for a Ford Capri that didn't include a rather attractive woman in a short skirt. And if there is one, I don't want to know about it. The message was simple: buy this car and this could be you.

Now names mean a lot less. No one gets excited about "3 Series" or thinks that the name "Scenic" really reflects their laissez-faire attitude to life. Somewhere along the line we stopped believing in the marketing.

But fear not because Vauxhall has come to the rescue with a host of new models with monumentally odd names. No more with the plain old Astra; now we have the Adam (who knows why) and then there's the Cascada (which sounds even funnier if you say it in a Dutch accent). But for me the pinnacle is the Mokka.

The Mokka is Vauxhall's small SUV, kind of like a Nissan Juke but not as good. But forget the actual car for the moment, because in Vauxhall's world the Mokka is where it's at. It's down with the kids listening to Alt-J and wearing a beanie. It's sooooo twenty-twelve.

Now I know what you're thinking: where did the name come from? Because it's like a coffee, but spelled wrongly. I did ask some Vauxhall people, but that drew a blank. Although one marketing person claimed that the Mokka was "more like a shot of espresso than a latte" without any hint of irony. I was waiting for him to end the sentence with "LOL" or at the very least some form of hash tag.

I'm sure that a lot of men in suits sat around coming up with name before the Mokka was called the Mokka. There's no doubting it's "on trend" -- as I'm sure the suits wanted -- but therein lies the problem. It may be on trend now but so was the Rover Streetwise in 2003, and look what happened there.

On the launch of the Mokka, Vauxhall was keen to laud up this "lifestyle" image it'd created for the Mokka. In a similar way to the Capri and the short-skirted woman, no photo was complete without someone kite surfing or doing something that involved a wetsuit in the background. The message seems to be, the Mokka is the perfect car to fit into your busy lifestyle. Even if that lifestyle actually involves going to Sainsbury's on a Sunday in a onesie because you've run out of milk, rather than hanging out at the beach with your bessie mates and your Twitters.

Next up: the Vauxhall hash tag.