Skoda's Yeti has always been one of our favourites but how does the latest 1.2-litre TSI version shape up? Jonathan Crouch reports.
Ten Second Review
The Skoda Yeti is back. You probably didn't notice it had changed but then the improvements are small. To be fair, not a lot needed doing to it and if you're on a tight budget, the Yeti 1.2-litre TSI is a bit of an easy selection. It might just be the coolest family car that £17,000 can buy.
Okay, so having Jeremy Clarkson raving about the Skoda Yeti might have taken a bit of its cachet away as the thinking person's crossover vehicle but even if you don't watch Top Gear, the word is probably well and truly out on this one by now. Numerous magazine and national newspaper awards will see to that. The Yeti has carved a niche as a crossover vehicle that doesn't look just like the rest of the fake 4x4s. It's unapologetically boxy yet rather handsome and feels as if it could survive a head-on with a freight train. Don't put this last one to the test though. Once you've settled on a Yeti, the next decision is which engine to choose. If your budget is tight, that decision more or less makes itself. The 1.2-litre TSI petrol engine is the entry-level powerplant in the Yeti range and might well become the most popular - but does a tiny engine really work in this sort of car?
A total of 105PS isn't a lot to move a vehicle this big and whether it works for you will depend on how you plan to use the Yeti. If you're thinking of covering longer distances, regularly using the car fully-laden or just live in a really hilly piece of the country, we'd probably recommend saving the extra for the 1.4-litre TSI or the 1.6 TDI diesel powerplants. They've just got that bit more torque at their disposal. If you plan on using the Yeti for lighter duties, the 1.2-litre engine barely puts a foot wrong. Horses for courses and all that. Wrung out against the clock, it sprints to 62mph in 11.4 seconds and runs on to 110mph. When the turbocharger gets going beyond 2,000rpm, there's actually a pleasant sensation of torque, although 175Nm of torque still isn't a whole lot. The Yeti features a front-wheel drive chassis and ride quality is best described as firm. The steering isn't the most feelsome but the manual gearbox offers a positive action and well-chosen ratios. Body control on typically poor UK roads is excellent and certainly a lot better resolved than the somewhat wallowy rides of many rival crossovers.
Design and Build
The Yeti's styling has always been a good deal cleaner than its broken-backed Roomster sibling. The latest car features front and rear elements, such as bumpers, under-ride guard, side mouldings and door sills either in the body colour or, as with the Yeti Outdoor version, remain in black plastic. The fronts of both vehicles are horizontally more accentuated and feature a distinctive grille and redesigned headlights, available as an option for the first time with Bi-Xenon headlights with integrated LED daytime running lights. The front headlights are now rectangular and are now located further under the front bumpers. 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 and 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
When it comes to this 1.2 TSI variant, prices open at around £16,500 for the S trim level and climb to nearly £20,000 for the range-topping Elegance, which stacks up reasonably well against the likes of the Hyundai ix35 and the Kia Sportage. Yes, the Korean cars do feature bigger engines but neither are quite as much fun to drive. Specify the DSG twin-clutch gearshift and you tack on another £1,100, although if you are buying the Yeti for short distance city duties, that may be an allowable indulgence. This latest version gets a host of new equipment, perhaps the most interesting being the Optical Parking Assistant, an optional 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. The Yeti boasts up to nine airbags and Isofix points securely fasten child seats. Three-point seat belts in the front with belt tensioners and height adjustment and height-adjustable headrests complete the safety package.
Cost of Ownership
Skoda quote a combined fuel consumption figure of 46.3mpg which will dip quite markedly if you're pushing on. Emissions of 142g/km aren't the best around either, with the DSG gearbox upping that to 147g/km. By contrast, an Audi Q3 1.4 TFSI can get 47.9mpg and 137g/km, despite being heavier and packing another 43PS. Therefore, we can file this Skoda's efficiency measures as adequate but by no means exceptional. Despite the so-so economy and emissions figures, the Yeti 1.2 is going to be extremely cost-effective to run as an overall package. Experience has shown that the car appeals to both 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 about to significantly damage the resale values of existing Yeti models.
If you were to mark the Skoda Yeti's report card, it would be almost entirely favourable. The Skoda Yeti 1.2 TSI's report would probably score a solid B grade. There's a lot to like and the engine punches above its weight but it's just let down a little by economy and emissions that could and should be a good deal better. Pulling power when the car is fully loaded may also be an issue that will have some buyers deciding that budgeting another £1,400 for a diesel model might well be a smart move. The factor that probably redeems this model is the fact that it's the one to choose if you're just going to use it on typically short suburban journeys. In that case, the economy isn't a massive priority and you'd never recoup the additional cost of a diesel model in fuel bills. If that sounds like you, the Yeti 1.2 TSI represents a smart investment for the crossover customer who doesn't like conventional crossovers.