Skoda's improved crossover is a well-liked choice in its segment. June Neary discovers why.
Will It Suit Me?
I quite like the idea of owning a car named after a mythical beast. Surely it can only improve your standing with casual acquaintances when dropped into conversation. It has to be the right mythical beast of course. You'd look like a right idiot calming to have a Mitsubishi Loch Ness Monster in the car park or offering people lifts in your MINI Wolfman. Yeti has the right degree of gravitas and cuddliness about it in my opinion, though I doubt a little cuddle would be the first thing on your agenda if one loomed up out of the mist on a Tibetan mountain side. Just, one imagines, like its abominable snowman namesake, the Skoda Yeti is bigger than you imagine on first acquaintance. This car was the Czech brand's first entry in the growing small SUV / Crossover segment and now it's been thoroughly revised.
It's on the large side by compact 4x4 standards but is still a manageable size for getting about town in. The latest car features stylised front and rear elements such as beefy bumpers, an under-ride guard, side mouldings and door sills that are either in the body colour or, as with the Yeti Outdoor version, remain in black plastic. The fronts of both variants 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 interior is still roomy with Skoda having done a lot of thinking about how to make the most of the space. A trio of tall adults can be accommodated in the rear and there's a 405-litre boot as well. The seats are of Skoda's VarioFlex persuasion and can be folded or removed completely to open up further load carrying options. They also slide fore and aft to adjust the amount of legroom and boot space on offer. It's not the easiest system to use and the seats are heavy to lift in and out but it does add versatility to the cabin. Lift them all out and as compensation for your new hernia, there's 1,760 litres of capacity in the Yeti, which might be enough to persuade buyers against going for a full size 4x4. Quality dashboard materials and neat design top off a very accomplished cabin.
Behind the Wheel
The Yeti is predominantly designed for use on the road and even with the 4x4 system fitted, it will operate in front-wheel drive mode until it detects wheel slip. Lots of the elements that drivers have come to appreciate in 4x4 vehicles are evident in the Yeti, such as the elevated seating position with its enhanced visibility and easy access. The wide body takes a little bit of getting used to when squeezing through gaps in traffic but the turning circle is tight enough and the car is generally easy to drive. A good range of engine options is available with the Yeti. The standout units are the 1.4-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 122PS and is the best choice of you're looking for an urban scoot. The diesel's better for longer distances, generating 105PS but offering 250Nm of torque rather than the petrol engine's 200. Many buy a Yeti to take advantage of it's all wheel drive traction and the latest model changes tack a little, offering a different look and feel for all-wheel drive models (dubbed 'Outdoor' variants) versus the front-wheel drive cars.
Value For Money
Pricing starts at around £17,000 but you can pay as much as £27,000 for a flagship model. This latest Yeti 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. 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. The usual image of utility vehicles being somewhat profligate when it comes to fuel economy doesn't really apply to the Skoda Yeti. The GreenLine diesel model is the poster child here, with a 61mpg combined economy figure and emissions of just 119g/km. Skoda has green-tinged a few more Yeti variants with a Green tec package that includes a Start-Stop System, brake energy recovery (recuperation) and low rolling resistance tyres. The 1.4 TSI, the 2.0 TDI with manual six-speed gearbox and the 1.6 TDI with seven-speed DSG all get the Green tec gear.
Could I Live With One?
There are so many 4x4s to choose from these days, it's hard to keep track but this improved Skoda Yeti is worthy of a place near the centre of the scrum. It's spacious, has a good and varied engine range, looks the part and is comfortable on the road. Getting noticed by buyers will be half the battle but at least with a name like Yeti, it'll be hard to forget.