1 July 2009
Skoda Yeti

Skoda Yeti

So it really does exist!

Review | Caution! The Yeti is on the loose! The Yeti has first been observed in the forests of Ljubljana (Slovenia). The Yeti combines the DNA of an off-roader with the quirky character of a Skoda. The compact SUV has its territory on and off-road, and has also been seen in the city. Autozine went on an expedition and caught an actual Yeti for scientific research.
 

Look the Yeti right in the eyes. Do you see that smirk? Do you want a smile like that on your face as well? Then step in to the Yeti for a test drive.

Space

Many people choose an SUV for the space and the Yeti offers a surprising amount of that. Although the Yeti may look compact, the car is in fact based on the Octavia and therefore offers just as much cabin space. The big difference is that the Yeti is a tall car, which means easy entry and a good view over other traffic. Because the driver sits relatively deep in the car, the Yeti doesn't give that mighty "king of the road" feeling that characterises other SUV's.

Skoda Yeti

The dashboard of the Yeti seems to be copied verbatim from Volkswagen, who own Skoda. A car that looks this original from the outside, demands an interior that is at least as inspiring and this is where the Yeti really disappoints.

Even with a tall driver behind the wheel, there's still enough space on the backseat for adults. The rear bench consists of three separate seats that individually slide (Skoda calls this "VarioFlex"). Depending on the situation this makes it possible to create more leg room on the back seat or more space for luggage in the boot.

There's a large threshold making it less easy to load and unload heavy objects. But the pain is compensated by the fact that the boot is huge. Also, the luggage space has been fitted with several handy aids with which the space can be used flexibly.

Skoda Yeti

Engines

While other SUVs impress with their huge size and accompanying huge engines, Skoda chooses a different path. The Yeti isn't meant to impress others, but is to be enjoyed by the driver. This is especially the case when fitted with the "1.2 TSI" engine. This is the smallest engine on the list, and also the best. Thanks to smart thinking the unusually modest engine is still very strong (105 bhp / 175 Nm), while fuel consumption is low.

To add to the fun, the test car is fitted with a so called "DSG" gearbox. This is an automatic gearbox which also allows the driver to shift manually. Most important: with this automatic transmission the Yeti is quicker and yet more economic than the manual version!

This latest generation of the DSG gearbox has seven gears, which means there's an optimal ratio available in any situation, so the available engine power can be utilised perfectly. In city traffic this "Yeti 1.2 TSI DSG" is therefore eager and lively, while on the highway it is quiet and economic. Only at speeds over 80 mph is it clear that this is just the base engine, as acceleration power diminishes significantly.

Skoda Yeti

Road holding

Thanks to the compact build, the Yeti offers an exceptionally dynamic drive for an SUV. With the light weight 1.2 engine under the bonnet, this feeling is even stronger. Because of its height the Yeti does tilt while cornering, but thanks to it's refined underpinning the driver knows exactly where the limits are. On top of that the Yeti has a somewhat provocative character, which makes this one of the most enjoyable SUV's around. This Yeti is not an abominable brute, but a well built and well behaved athlete!

Skoda Yeti

Four wheel drive

When the Yeti is fitted with a stronger engine, it makes the car clearly faster in a straight line. Because these engines perform with more ease, they give the Yeti a more mature yet less playful character. Only the strongest engines can be combined with four-wheel drive.

Although the Yeti isn't meant as a rugged off-roader to cross deserts and conquer the jungle, this Skoda does offer more than just a pretty face. The "Yeti 4x4" is fitted with permanent four-wheel drive and several electronic gadgets that make off-road driving easier.

Skoda Yeti

Off-road

This is activated by pressing the "Off road" button. The car now responds less directly to the throttle so that the power can be applied more precisely.

"Down hill descent" makes it possible to safely descend steep hills without the need for a special (read: expensive) gearbox with "low ratio", like most traditional off-roaders use. The electronic descent help isn't unique, but Skoda's interpretation is smarter than usual. The Yeti descends in neutral gear, but when the throttle is pressed the Yeti does accelerate (by braking less).

To make climbing easier, the Yeti keeps the brakes on for two seconds so the car won't roll backwards. Also, the computer limits the engine to 2,500 revolutions per minute to prevent the clutch plates from ever being burned.

Skoda Yeti

As it should be with an off-road vehicle, the wheels have been placed on the extreme corners, so overhang in the front and back is minimal. Also, the Yeti has fair ground clearance (18 cm). The suspension is, just like it was on public roads, well adjusted and makes it easy for the driver to know what the car is capable of. And that is a lot. In fact when going off-road this Yeti out-performs many expensive SUVs! There's no doubt about it: you now have the same smirk on your face as the car does!

Conclusion

The Yeti really does exist and Autozine caught one in the forests of Slovenia. Research shows that the Yeti, despite its notorious reputation, is not an uncivilised brute. In a world of oversized and gas guzzling SUVs, which are mainly meant to impress others, the Yeti is a delight.

In tradition with its brand image, this Skoda is smarter than the rest in many aspects. Especially the "1.2 TSI" engine gives the Yeti good performance while fuel consumption is exceptionally low. Thanks to the compact size this is a dynamic, lively car that offers a lot of driving pleasure. In the city this car is more practical than most competitors, while it also defeats them going off-road!

The Yeti is alive! But it is not the abominable snowman; instead it is an awfully good car!

plus
  • Original design
  • Very capable off-road
  • Quick and efficient on-road
min
  • Boring interior
  • Boot has large threshold
  • Test car does have some rattling noises