Skoda's Yeti range has been split in two. If you prefer your Yeti a bit rougher and tougher, you need one with an Outdoor badge on its back door. Jonathan Crouch reports.
Ten Second Review
The Skoda Yeti has long been one of the best buys for families looking for a ruggedised vehicle that's not an SUV and the latest Outdoor model is the best yet. All Outdoor versions feature four-wheel drive and there's a huge choice of engines. Best of all, the prices have remained very reasonable.
To split Skoda's Yeti range in two and call one model the Outdoor does beg the question of where you'd drive the other one. Inch it back and forwards in your garage? Stretch its legs once in a while by trailering it to a multi-storey? The Yeti was built for a certain element of adventure, so if there's one that's badged an Outdoor, that would be the one for me. This latest Yeti has been given a subtle working over to keep things fresh but it doesn't diverge too far from the original formula that made it such a hit. It's still a good-looking, keenly-priced vehicle with all-wheel drive but is most certainly not an SUV. It's hard to even lump it in with the growing array of crossover vehicles that it probably competes most closely with. It always has been and always will be just a Yeti; something that ploughs its own groove and that's why it'll always be something quite special.
One of the benefits of being a manufacturer owned by Volkswagen is that you have a massive array of engines to plumb into your vehicles. That was always a big draw of the old Yeti and the Outdoor continues that theme, offering no fewer than six powerplants from which to select. All models feature four-wheel drive and there's a choice of manual or automatic dual clutch transmissions. Obviously, some combinations live up to the Outdoor remit a bit more convincingly than others but you're not going to be starved of choice. The standout engines are the 1.2-litre TSI petrol unit and the 1.6 TDI GreenLine diesel. The TSI engine sounds as if it doesn't have the grunt to move the Yeti but it packs 105PS and as long as you're not lugging the vehicle fully loaded, it won't feel too underpowered. The diesel's better for longer distances, generating 105PS but offering 250Nm of torque. Many buy a Yeti to take advantage of its all-wheel drive traction and this Outdoor features an off-road function with a softened throttle response for better control on the loose, as well as a hill descent function which maintains a constant speed on descents. With electronically controlled fifth generation Haldex all-wheel drive and a ground clearance of 180 mm, the Outdoor versions are terrain-ready. The electronic differential lock also promises a smooth and comfortable start and grip on various road surfaces.
Design and Build
The Yeti Outdoor features a noticeably more rugged look than the two-wheel-drive Yeti, with styling details designed to allow owners to get the most out of their car. The bumpers incorporate steeper approach and departure angles to facilitate off-road use, while the use of black trim along the sides and lower elements of the bumper means that the Outdoor can take rough surfaces in its stride. The front of the latest Yeti is more horizontally accentuated and features a distinctive grille and redesigned headlights. Available as an option for the first time is a set of Bi-Xenon headlights with integrated LED daytime running lights. The headlights are now rectangular. Moving back, you'll now get a choice of four alloy wheel designs, a wider colour palette and a rear end that gets a completely redesigned tailgate assembly with C-design LED rear lights. The cabin's come in for a bit of the budget too, with revised 3-spoke steering wheels in seven variations, better fabrics and bolder patterns for the seat trims, as well as decorative inlays on the dashboard. The driving position is reasonably high and gives a good view of the road ahead, with a smart colour touch-screen dominating the central dash. The broad windows and tall windscreen aid visibility and quality dashboard materials with sensible ergonomics top off a very accomplished cabin. Out back, there's a 405-litre boot which can be extended to as much as 1,760-litres if you remove the rear seats. In no other compact utility vehicle do the rear passengers have as much headroom as in the Yeti - some 1027 millimetres.
Market and Model
The Outdoor's trim levels will be familiar to most Skoda owners, starting with S and then stepping through SE and Elegance before topping out with the Laurin & Klement. With prices starting at under £17,000 on the road and with a number of diesel 4x4 models available for less than £20,000, the Yeti Outdoor represents extremely strong value for money. In fact, if anything it looks a little underpriced such has been the adulation that press and public have poured upon it. You might have excused Skoda for trying to see what the market would bear here. Even the S gets alloy wheels, roof rails, electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors, electric windows all round, Bluetooth, air conditioning, twin front, side, curtain and driver's knee airbags and even a spritz of leather on the handbrake and gear lever. There's a whole host of clever optional equipment introduced as well, perhaps the most interesting being the Optical Parking Assistant, a rear-view camera. Active safety is increased through ESC (Electronic Stability Control) and ABS (Anti-lock Braking System) with Brake Assist. The front fog lights can also be optionally equipped with Corner Function.
Cost of Ownership
The usual image of utility vehicles being somewhat profligate when it comes to fuel economy don't really apply to the Skoda Yeti. The GreenLine diesel model is the poster child here, with getting around 60mpg and emissions of just 119g/km. This features a Start-Stop System, brake energy recovery (recuperation) and low rolling resistance tyres. The DSG twin-clutch gearbox knocks a few grammes per kilometre from the emissions of some cars in the Volkswagen empire, but here it's worth noting that it adds 5g/km to the emissions of a 1.2-litre Yeti Outdoor. All of this means that the Outdoor is going to appeal to private and business buyers in equal measure. Residual values for the Yeti have proven excellent and the evolutionary styling of the facelift car isn't going to significantly damage the resale values of existing owners.
The Skoda Yeti Outdoor does exactly what's asked of it. Need a car that can shrug off the worst excesses of winter? It'll do that. Fancy something that's well built, offers all-wheel drive traction, can seat five and offer a modern diesel engine but don't want to pay north of twenty grand? It can do that too. There's a certain cool to the Yeti which means that it doesn't come across as a cheapskate's car in the slightest. In fact, a Yeti driver seems informed and vaguely immune to simple badge snobbery. As mid life facelifts go, this one isn't the most radical but Skoda knew what to do if the formula was still working with no really credible rivals rearing their heads. In fact, it's been a very canny move to visually diversify the front and four-wheel drive cars in the range. The Yeti always did represent a class act in a market full of try-hard rivals. Now it offers extra choice and that can only be good news.