Enough with the tediously inevitable abominable snowman quips about Skoda’s Yeti. The compact SUV is decidedly clever.
IT’S ANoutstanding sales success in Europe; now Skoda’s Yeti SUV is headed for Australia, with family-friendly features and singular styling.
Neat and distinctive enough so you won’t miss it in the street, the yeti has an entirely practical design— and should be in showrooms by October.
Skoda is keeping mum on pricing but expect about $28,000 for the interesting two-wheel drive 77kW petrol manual and about $33,000 for the all-wheel drive 103kW turbodiesel with DSG auto.
That’s in the ballpark with its Japanese and Korean rivals. Skoda Australia boss Matthew Wiesner says other engine
A brilliant VW-sourced family concept carries a strange name . . . and an affordable price including a 118kW turbo petrol with a six-speed manual transmission and all-wheel drive, will follow.
Yeti has been a huge success in Europe. The Czech plant has been working multiple shifts to pump out 50,000 a year and soon there will be a second plant to double volume and ease customer waiting times.
Part of Yeti’s appeal is its flexibility. It has Skoda’s VarioFlex seating arrangement so individual seats can be moved on runners, split and folded, reclined and removed.
The rear seats are 20mm higher than the front and this theatre seating gives children a better view.
Another bonus is Yeti’s reliability. Skoda says Yeti has the highest customersatisfaction rating in its range.
It is based on Volkswagen’s Tiguan but is effectively a Skoda creation. And unlike Tiguan, it will be sold in twowheel drive. It will also be more keenly priced— a result of the Czech Republic’s lower wages and the patriotic nation’s intrinsic ability to work without necessarily demanding additional payment. Skoda plans to unveil the Yeti at the Melbourne motor show along with a new Superb model and the Fabia range. It should be showrooms by October.
At an estimated $28,000 for the front-drive petrol, it is priced to compete with the Nissan Dualis 2WD Ti at $29,690, Toyota RAV4 2.4 CV ($28,990), Kia Sportage Si 2WD ($26,490), Mitsubishi ASX 2WD ($25,990) and Hyundai ix35 Active ($26,990). A lot of value lies in its safety features, durability and functionality. But customers may baulk at the entry-level model’s manual gearbox and singular styling.
Underpinnings are all Tiguan but, like the difference between the Polo GTI and the Skoda Fabia RS, there’s a lot of detail in how the suspension has been tuned and the steering set up.
The base engine is the excellent 1.2-litre 77kW turbo petrol engine also found in the Polo and Fabia. The 103kW turbodiesel has been around a long time and needs no change. It is mated to the all-wheel drive system and DSG box.
The drive system is a Haldex arrangement that, on dry roads, puts 96 per cent of torque through the front wheels. Sensors detect speed variations between front and rear wheels and can divert up to 90 per cent of torque to the rear.
There is also a limited-slip rear differential to ensure that torque goes evenly between the two wheels.
The Yeti is the same length as a Volkswagen Golf but has considerably more cabin room — mainly in height— so can afford to have the rear theatre seating and carry tall cargo.
Subjectively, it’s a Roomster without the quirky bits.
In fact, despite its unusual round driving lights up front, its profile and rear views show it as a neat, functional family wagon. Much thought has gone into the likes of a versatile cargo space, storage for personal items, big windows for visibility and so on. It just feels functional.
It gets a five-star crash rating, all the necessary chassis aids including the full suite of airbags and Volkswagen’s electronic safety gear such as stability and roll control. It also has a full-size spare wheel.
The Yeti’s height makes it look
like a people mover and that may indicate it has similar degrees of bodyroll and vague handling of such a van. But in fact, the Yeti is beautifully taut and controllable. It sits flat on the road and is always composed.
It can be flung into a corner and the steering wheel rolled on without any dramas.
The 103kW tested is a lazy engine and that masks the fact the performance is pretty special. With the DSG it will slip quickly up through the six gears and cruise quietly and frugally at 120km/h. Yet it has plenty in reserve for overtaking.
The dashboard is simple and effective but it may take more than a few attempts to get comfortable behind the wheel.
The high seating position, angle of the steering wheel and location of the pedals create a sit-up-and-beg posture for the driver that takes some time to get used to. In its favour, the high seats make it very easy to get in and out of the vehicle— a bonus for some— and reduces the need to lean into the car to extract babies from capsules and grocery bags from the boot.
VERDICT Change your mind about what you want your car to do and Yeti might fit all parameters. Overall, it’s a surprisingly practical and efficient car.
Snow big deal: The Yeti is at home when the going gets tough but combines enough street cred and creature comfort to make it the real deal as a family car