After dipping its toe in the off-road-capable market with Scout variants a few years back, Skoda introduced the quirkily named Yeti 4x4 model to the UK, to notch up a plethora of awards and experience some considerable sales success.
Designed and engineered by SkodaAuto at the Design and Technical Centre in its very own historical town of Mlada Boleslav, Czech Republic, the Yeti is boxy and rather solid in its appearance – arguably an acquired taste or on the other hand, a display of lacking innovative design flair and playing it safe. You could say its missing a certain youthfulness, trendiness and the ruggedly appealing good looks of some of its competitors, a factor which has possibly been deterring some of the younger buyers it was being aimed at. Despite this the Yeti has proved to have serious appeal to active 40 pluses, who are more than happy with their choice, and sales are sales at the end of the day, which means Skoda must be doing something right.
As usual the Skoda S, SE and Elegance trims are all available throughout the Yeti range, all well equipped and representing the good value for money that the Czech manufacturer are well known for. Features as standard include Park Assist, easy to see and use touch screen displays and an off-road button featuring useful hill hold control.
True to typical 4x4 expectations, a commanding high driving position, giving excellent visibility, general space and airiness in the cabin. I appreciated the durable feeling inside, sensible if not overly stylish but rather a what-you-see-is-what-you-get ethos has been taken, to keep everything more utilitarian.
What Skoda has achieved very well though is the use of Varioflex seating, as first seen in the Roomster. This allows the seats to be moved backwards, forwards, be individually reclined, rolled up or completely removed from the car – perfect for accommodating a wide variety of loads.
Based on the same structure underpinning the Octavia Scout, the Yeti is shorter than most of its rivals, but benefits for being broader and taller. The Varioflex seating gives plenty of legroom and the good-sized boot (416 litres, somewhat less than other Skoda models), is generous enough for cases, small bikes and buggies. Take the rear seats out however, and there’s a whopping 1,760 litres to play with. Compared to its competitors, the Yeti has the 2nd greatest boot volume to the much larger Kia Sportage.
Engine wise, there’s a choice of smooth, capable petrol and diesels including a 2.0 TDI CR 110bhp diesel in both two and four-wheel drive, plus a 2.0 TDI CR 140bhp and 2.0 TDI CR 170bhp both in four-wheel drive only. Transmissions next and there’s an optional seven-speed DSG transmission or advanced four-wheel drive system incorporating a fourth generation Haldex clutch. For those of you who aren’t experts – the Haldex clutch diverts torque from the front (where 90% of it is usually delivered) to the rear when needed due to surface challenges, and thanks to a limited slip diff on the rear axel, power is distributed evenly to each side to give maximum grip and stability at all times. Skoda really have hit the nail on the head marketing the Yeti as being “equally at home in the urban jungle as in the wilderness’, with a varied choice in engine and drivetrain to suit your needs, all of which are competent both on and off-road.
The ride is particularly good, firm and comfortable and there’s little discernable side roll unless cornered hard. It simply does what’s asked, and does it well.
Standard on Elegance 4x4, is the dash located off-road button used to engage off-road assistance. Making the more challenging courses idiot proof, when pressed it switches the ABS, TCS and EDL systems to an off-road setting – changing operating parameters for features such as hill start assist are widened and the accelerator responds more sensitively to aid pulling away on loose surfaces. Finally the hill start assistant also helps out when descending steep slopes. The ground clearance of 180mm hardly takes the Yeti into Land Rover territory, yet proved adequate on a variety of tough terrains – more than the typical buyer would need.
Back on tarmac, and little touches like Park Assist aid the Yeti’s split personality as a city car that enjoys getting dirty at the weekend – giving drivers an added appeal of versatility in day to day driving.
A thoroughly competent, capable, practical all-rounder. Its competition may arguably beat it in the trendy looks department, but Skoda’s Yeti is hard to match in build quality, durability, equal on and off road drivability, and practicality – which are what most buyers really need after all.
It may not look the prettiest against the competition, but the Skoda Yeti is hard to match when it comes to build quality, durability and all round drivability both on and off-road. A practical, capable and a competent all-rounder from Skoda, I’m just not sure I’d like to be seen in one.