Yeti an impressive beast - SKODA YETI Car Review

Review

Added: 14 Sep 2009
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SKODA'S first real off-roader was in search of Nessie when it headed for the Highlands to do a little monster spotting - while flexing its 4x4 muscles.

The all-new Yeti mud-plugger cramponed its way into Loch Ness, keeping within a safe distance of the shore (well, you never know what's lurking in the depths, do you?) and waded along confidently - unlike the occupants half expecting the 'water beast' to raise its head.

It didn't, and the Yeti crossover, submerged to its waist, turned and lumbered up the steeply-sided bank as calmly and sure-footedly as any living - or extinct - amphibian.

This was just a taste of the Yeti's impressive off-road/on-water capabilities. Earlier, it had demonstrated agility, romping up and down Highland glens, cork-screwing around lumberjack tracks with acute right and left exit routes you didn't know about until the 'navigator' yelled them out a second or so earlier.

This 'driving blind' tactic made for interesting experiences, with a minor encounter over a two-foot high root of an ancient oak tree where the 4x4 momentarily became a 4x3 Yeti.

Impressive, or what. The Yeti - certainly in its 4x4 form - demonstrated that this was no soft-roader.

It seems a shame that the off-road credentials will only be experienced by relatively few people as Skoda reckon only about 15-20% will go for the 4x4 models, with the remainder Yetis being in two-wheel-drive only.

First glance at its profile registered approval. Nothing abominable about the Czech Yeti. There are distinct looks of Land Rover's Freelander 2 model - but it is more squat - and there's nothing as curvaceous as its main rival, the highly successful Nissan Qashqai, apart from the V-shaped bonnet and grille.

The Yeti is a compact crossover, merging hatchback practicalities with 4x4 ruggedness - and it works very well.

It has clean looks, accentuated by black body pillars, large wheelarches, side protection strips and roof rails.

Skoda's first 4x4 concept car made its debut at the 2005 Geneva Motor Show and it makes a pleasant change to be able to recognise the Yeti from those early design days.

Often, concept cars bear no resemblance to what is eventually produced, but the use of Modular Technology has allowed designers to safeguard the integrity of the concept model.

Five engines are available - two petrol and three diesel, with outputs ranging from 105 to 170bhp, driven through a five-speed, six-speed manual transmission or an optional seven-speed DSG box.

Only 4x4 Yetis were available in the Highlands, but the 2.0-litre TDI CR 140bhp Elegance proved a smooth, lively and quiet operator on a 130-mile trip, driving on mainly narrow roads.

Costing £21,400, including £2,000 of extras, that seemed fairly pricey - but you do get a genuine sense of wall-to-wall quality associated with that of its Audi and VW cousins.

The 140bhp diesel achieves 0-62mph in a respectable 9.9 seconds, while its combined fuel return is a frugal 46.3mpg. The 4x4 system has auto torque distribution and fourth generation Haldex clutch, driven through a straightforward six-speed gearbox.

A 5.30am start the next day for a 10-mile trip back to Inverness Airport was barely sufficient to familiarise myself with the 1.8, 160bhp petrol Yeti, but it proved sweet and alert - not an adjective you could use to describe the driver and passengers at that time of day!

The 1.8 reaches 62mph in 8.4 seconds, but on this occasion, it was not tested out. The 124mph Yeti returns a combined fuel figure of just over 35mpg.

The previous day saw 4x4 experts demonstrating the Yeti's balancing on three wheels on a narrow, makeshift bridge and its impressive hill descent system. It looked balletic. Journalists were allowed a much wider test-bed on the estate of Aldourie Castle.

Prices start at £13,725 and standard equipment includes air con, six air bags, electric front windows, electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors and the amazing Varioflex seating system - providing 20 different seating configurations.

Words: Val Jessop

Keywords: skoda, yeti