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The Euro-bred Opel Mokka X is a thinly-veiled preview of the 2017 Buick Encore

General Motors’ Germany-based Opel division has given the pocket-sized Mokka crossover a facelift, a new range-topping engine, and a less cluttered cabin with a state-of-the-art infotainment system. Now called Mokka X, the crossover won’t be sold on our side of the pond with an Opel emblem on the grille but it gives us an accurate preview of what we can expect from the upcoming 2017 Buick Encore.

All new, the Mokka X’s front end is characterized by sharper-looking headlights, a bold, shield-shaped grille with a wing-like insert, and a hood with three ripples. Around back, the updates are more minor and largely limited to new-look LED tail lamps and a redesigned bumper. Overall, the X falls in line with Opel’s latest design language while looking markedly more grown up than the rather cutesy four-year-old Mokka it replaces.

The upgrades continue in the cabin, where the Mokka X receives a more streamlined dashboard whose design is inspired by the one found in the new Astra hatchback. Opel has thankfully tossed out dozens of buttons on the center console and replaced them with a seven-inch touchscreen that runs a new version of its IntelliLink infotainment system — compatible with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The list of options includes GM’s OnStar service — which is fairly new in Europe — an eight-inch touchscreen, navigation, and a lane-departure warning system.

Mechanically, the big news is that Mokka X buyers can select a turbocharged, direct-injected 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine that develops 153 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque. Already found under the hood of the Encore Sport Touring, the four-banger ships exclusively with a six-speed automatic transmission and adaptive all-wheel drive. A start/stop system promises to keep gas mileage and CO2 emissions in check.

The 2016 Opel Mokka X will be presented to the public next month at the Geneva Auto Show, where it will share the spotlight with Opel’s head-turning GT concept. The hot-selling Buick Encore is expected to receive many of the same interior and exterior updates in time for the 2017 model year. Official information hasn’t been published yet, but Buick has confirmed the 2017 Encore will debut at the New York Auto Show that will open its doors late next month.

Updated 2/05/2016 by Ronan Glon: Amended the article to reflect that the New York Show opens in late March.

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