Prices for the Škoda Yeti range from a few quid under £14,000 for the 1.2 TSI 105bhp petrol 2WD model in ‘E’ trim specification, up to £22,635-ish for the range-topping 2.0 TDI CR 170bhp diesel 4×4 in ‘Elegance’ specification. The particular model Škoda provided us with for this week-long test was the 1.8 TSI petrol model which produces 152bhp, has a 6-speed manual gearbox and costs in the region of £20,440 in the tested ‘SE Plus’ trim and ‘basic’ 4×4 guise.
Cute and capable in an Ian Hislop kind of way
The Škoda Yeti’s looks are pretty divisive. Some people hate them, others are ambivalent, while many are very taken with its styling – me included. The Yeti is the Czech manufacturer’s most recent model and marks a bold move for the ever-daring and successful firm. Škoda’s family face with its distinctive chrome-bordered grille is present in the Yeti but incorporated into an altogether more aggressive design, with its ‘can do’ stance, large, high-up headlights, inset circular lights just beneath and a body-coloured chin. To me, Jozef Kaban and his team have done a really good job of styling the Yeti’s front end, as it somehow manages to blend ruggedness and ability with exquisitely detailed, happy-go-lucky cuteness. The Yeti’s face won’t appeal to everyone and in many ways you could call it a unobvious choice which is more of a thinking person’s car, but it certainly stands out from the crowd and its serious yet cuddly styling is sure to win increasing numbers of fans as time goes on.
Perhaps odd in theory, but great in practice
Moving around the exterior, the attention to detail is continually highlighted. For a start, the headlight covers have ‘Yeti’ embossed into them and the lamp unit has been styled with design in mind, hinted at by the ‘gills’. The cavernous wheel arches well emphasise the car’s off-road intentions, as do the silver plastic under-floor protectors at the front and rear and the chunky black plastic bumpers all round. Twin exhausts and a 4×4 badge finish off the discrete references to the car’s sporty manner and off-road ability.
Surprisingly, the Yeti isn’t actually all that long at 4.2m and will leave an unexpected amount of space at the front or rear of a parking space. Its side profile somewhat resembles the Škoda Roomster, with a totally vertical, boxy rear, the back pillars blended into the tinted windows. Width-wise the 1.8m Yeti isn’t that far off the Superb. The dimensions might sound a bit odd on paper but in reality they work well. Owing to its boxy shape, large windows and the whole bonnet being visible from the driver’s seat, the Yeti proved easy to manoeuvre, making it a doddle in car parks, nimble to pilot around busy town streets and straightforward to park. Parking is made even easier by the excellent parking sensors and the Park Assist function which measures gaps between two cars and then steers you in, banishing most of those parallel parking blues!
That’s the outside, so what about the in?
Obviously to actually get into any car, the first thing you come into contact with is a door handle. First impressions count and fortunately for the Škoda Yeti, it does very well in this regard, as its door handles operate with a reassuringly solid ‘clunk’ – reminiscent of the ‘it’s like a Golf’ TV adverts promoting its VAG relative.
Once comfortably seated, the solid, well-built theme continues, with a very sturdy and fairly high quality dashboard and switchgear. The buttons are nice to the touch and don’t feel cheap, most of the plastics used on the dashboard itself are of the usual VAG quality and the Škoda Yeti SE Plus’ dashboard impresses even further with its very elegant-looking Amundsen colour, touchscreen satellite navigation system sitting proudly in the centre. The classy feeling was further reinforced by the presence of the “small leather pack” upgrade, which gives you a leather (4-spoke, multifunction) steering wheel, gearshift lever, hand brake grip and a few other splashes of leather trim here and there.
The SE Plus specification’s other features include such niceties as an air conditioned glovebox, parking sensors, a 6-disc CD changer, dual zone air con, folding tables in the rear, excellent Halogen projector headlights, headlight washers, Bluetooth telephone connectivity (which worked effortlessly), privacy glass, the very useful Maxi-dot trip computer, 17” alloy wheels and loads and loads of superbly practical features such as shopping bag hooks in the boot (more on this a little later…). Despite the ‘Kristal’ cloth upholstery being undeniably durable in its feel, I didn’t personally like the pattern and thought the cabin did look a bit gloomy as a result, so I would personally choose a lighter colour or go for the leather option. One way of brightening up the dark interior was to let more light in courtesy of the brilliant panoramic roof, which is basically an almost-full-length glass roof with a central strengthening support, with an electrically-operated blind to block out the sun and increase security when parked. Nice for star-gazing or for parking in the countryside, reclining the seats and looking up at the few wispy clouds in the blue sky!
Even for you technophobes out there, I would recommend opting for the Amundsen (or even the HDD-powered Columbus if you can spare a few quid more) touchscreen GPS system and Bluetooth phone preparation, as they are very easy to use. Postcodes can be used with ease to program destinations and the screen itself is very classy and simple to operate, and when it comes to the phone system it detected my Samsung immediately and both the quality of calls and the ease of use proved excellent.
Sounds great for a businessperson, but what about as a family car?
The front seats aren’t what I would call comfortable, falling more into the ‘adequate category’, shaped fairly flatly with not a great deal of noticeable support. But they did surprisingly prove to be effective when pitching the Yeti around sharp bends, so they’re not all bad by any means. The car we had for the week had manually-adjustable seats, but this is typical for many VAG cars of this size. In the rear, legroom is quite spacious for average-sized people and Škoda have cleverly elevated the rear seats so as to give the rear occupants a better view and an increased feeling of space.
The rear seats can be configured in a multitude of different ways, courtesy of the Škoda Yeti’s coveted Varioflex system, which truly is remarkable. Individual seats can be reclined, removed, moved backwards and forwards, you name it! With over 20 different Varioflex seat combinations on tap, this is one highly practical car! The boot contains all kinds of lashings, hooks for shopping bags, a plastic semi-circle for your drinks bottles, and nets in the boot and parcel shelf. Sitting between the Fabia and the Roomster, boot space in the Yeti isn’t enormous, surprisingly (I can get many more bags in my Vel Satis, for example) but it’s tall, which is a great attribute. The lip may prohibit loading some items in, but in fairness not many other cars have entirely flat boots.
The highly practical and generally very solid overall package is slightly let down by some rather cheap plastics around the centre console, which itself is quite small compared to some other similar cars’. The plastic tables in the rear feel pretty cheap, the seats could be a bit more supportive and I found it easy to change the trip computer display accidentally whilst steering round a sharpish corner – but all in all, the interior of the Škoda Yeti is very good, with the dashboard being especially impressive and high quality.
And how did the 1.8 TSI petrol engine fare?
If I could sum it up in two words, they would be “very well” – the 1.8 TSI petrol engine is a feisty little thing, which provides nippy acceleration and decent levels of motorway poke, both delivered in a smooth fashion. It’s not the quietest engine during the few seconds of starting-up, but otherwise it performs nice and smoothly. Packing just under 160bhp, the 1.8 TSI will be more than adequate for the needs of the majority of people and while it’s unlikely that someone would actually buy a Yeti specifically to drive fast, it would be a very nice surprise bonus for them to discover that it goes rather like a GTI car. In fact, this sensation isn’t as far-fetched as it sounds, what with the Yeti’s family link to the Volkswagen Golf. The Yeti 1.8 TSI gets from zero to 62mph in 8.4 seconds under ideal conditions and shifting.
Škoda’s official figures quote 35mpg for the 1.8 TSI Yeti’s combined fuel economy and to its credit it came really close under real world conditions over the 10 days I had the car. The poor thing had to endure a lot of stop-start motorway commuting, many short trips, one long motorway journey at normal speeds, and a fair bit of exploring up and down country lanes. Over the 10 days, it averaged just over 30mpg, which is very impressive considering the amount of traffic it was often stuck in, along with the absence of any stop-start technology on this particular model. Although the 1.8 petrol engine is very likeable and has a zeal for being pushed, buyers who need a versatile car which will be used for lots of commuting should definitely consider the diesel Yeti options instead. There’s a choice of an apparently excellent 2.0 TDI which gives you either 110bhp, 140bhp or 170bhp depending on which variant you go for, or a 1.6 TDI Greenline II at 105bhp. The best for economy is meant to be the 110bhp 2.0 choice, with a quoted combined figure of 52mpg.
Emissions are the hot topic these days, so how does the 1.8 TSI Yeti fare in this regard? It produces 189g/km CO2, whilst the 110bhp 2 litre diesel engine produces 140g/km CO2. Škoda are pitching the Yeti against the Nissan Qashqai crossover, so how do they compare in terms of CO2? The closest Qashqai equivalent to the Yeti test car spec we were given is perhaps the New Qashqai 2.0 petrol 16v 4WD, which in fairness uses a CVT gearbox as opposed to this particular Yeti’s manual ‘box, but the CO is the same at 189g/km. The 1.6 litre petrol Qashqai with a manual gearbox and 2WD produces 144g/km.
Talking of gearboxes, I found the Yeti’s 6-speed manual gearbox very agreeable. First gear is easy to engage and isn’t at all notchy and the rest of the gear range is easy to get to grips with too, once you get accustomed to the Yeti’s thirst for being in as high a gear as possible. Seriously, when pootling through the increasingly-present 20mph zones in the local area, the Yeti’s information display begged me for 4th gear. Driving at 30mph it always asked for 5th gear and anything above 40mph always warranted for 6th gear without any struggle at all.
So what’s the score?
We can’t comment on the Yeti’s off-road abilities too much as our test car wasn’t an Elegance model fitted with the Off-Road button controlling hill descent and other off-road functions, and we stuck to pitted farm tracks and odd bits of grass in the main, but it coped with these very well.
What we can say is that the Yeti is an extremely versatile crossover vehicle, which appeals to a huge range of prospective buyers, owing to its immense practicality, high-up seating position, rugged ability, solid build quality, impressive equipment levels and mod’ con’s and a good choice of engines. I became quite fond of this 1.8 petrol Yeti’s drive quality and would recommend it for people who don’t do a lot of stop-start commuting or long journeys, especially if the prospect of saving about £2,000 over the 2.0 diesel models makes more sense for your needs.
The Škoda Yeti – not abominable in the slightest. A ruddy good car, in fact.
© Oliver Hammond
Motoring Writer, Road Test Reviewer & Car Consultant
Specification of Skoda Yeti 1.8 TSI 152bhp 4×4 SE Plus Tested
Length 4,223 mm
Width 1,793 mm
Height 1,691 mm (incl. roof rails), 1,644 mm (excl. roof rails)
Clearance 180 mm
Fuel tank 60 litres
Engine 4-cyclinder in-line, direct injection
Cubic Capacity 1,798cc
Maximum Speed 124mph
0-62mph: 8.4 seconds
Torque: 250Nm at 1,500-4,500RPM
Manufacturer’s combined fuel economy: 35.3mpg
Boot Capacity 416 litres, 1,760 litres (seat removed)
Emissions 189g/km CO2
VED Band J
Insurance Group 18E
On The Road Price £20,440.00
Business In Kind (BIK) 27% (£19,940.00)
4-spoke leather multi-function steering wheel for radio and telephone
ABS incl. EBD+MBA+EBC+ASR
Acoustic rear parking sensors
Air conditioned glove compartment
Alarm system with interior monitoring and back-up horn
‘Amundsen’ satellite navigation
Black protective side mouldings
Black roof rails
Body coloured door mirrors and door handles
CD autochanger (6 CDs)
Driver and passenger front and side airbags
Drivers knee airbag
Dual-zone air conditioning
Electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors
ESP incl. ABS+EBD+EBC+
(4×4 & DSG only)
Folding tables on back of front seats
Front and rear electric windows (with child safety switch)
Front fog lights
Halogen projector headlights with DE-module
Height and reach adjustable steering wheel
Height-adjustable driver and passenger seat
High level third rear brake light
Indicators integrated in door mirrors
Integrated headlight washers
Jumbo box (storage box in front centre console)
Lashing system with adjustable hooks in boot
Maxi-dot trip computer
Net below parcel shelf
Remote central locking (with 2 keys)
Sunset glass from B-pillar back
Telephone preparation including Bluetooth® GSM II
Textile floor mats
Two ISOFIX child seat fittings in rear (outer)
Tyre repair kit (no spare wheel)*