It’s no snowjob

Never mind the daft name, this is the com­pact diesel SUV to own

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Road Test - STU­ART MARTIN stu­art.martin@cars­guide.com.au

SKODA’S Yeti com­pact SUV may not be the pret­ti­est thing on the road, but still makes a state­ment: ‘‘ Look at me— not the Tiguan or the Audi Q3.’’

VALUE

The range kicks off with a front-wheel drive ver­sion at just over $26,000. This up­per­spec 103TDI with six-speed DSG auto (a $2300 op­tion) starts from $37,990.

Stan­dard fare in­cludes Blue­tooth, cruise, stor­age un­der pas­sen­ger seat, cli­mate con­trol air­con, eight-speaker au­dio (but no USB in­put), auto head­lights, fully ad­justable four-spoke leather-wrapped steer­ing wheel (with all the au­dio and phone but­tons) and 17-inch al­loy wheels. Our test car had $2890 worth of sat­nav.

TECH­NOL­OGY

The turbo diesel en­gine is, of course, from VW. Fit­ted with a par­ti­cle fil­ter, it uses

high-pres­sure di­rect-in­jec­tion fuel in­jec­tion to help pro­duce 103kW and a use­ful 320Nm from 1750rpm.

The driv­e­train is a Haldex clutch sys­tem that runs pre­dom­i­nantly front-wheel drive in nor­mal driv­ing con­di­tions.

On de­tect­ing a change in road speeds be­tween the front and rear wheels, it sends up to 90 per cent of the drive aft where a lim­ited-slip dif­fer­en­tial keeps things tidy.

DE­SIGN

If you want a pretty com­pact SUV, stump up the ex­tra cash for Ford’s Kuga or go to a Ger­man show­room. The Yeti’s boxy big-win­dowed de­sign is not overly easy on the eye yet it works with­out bring­ing gales of wind noise.

In­side is not cav­ernous but there’s an airy feel to the cabin thanks to the high roofline and de­cent room front and rear. The rear bench has re­clin­ing back­rests (great for snooz­ing ru­grats) and can also be slid fore and aft as loads dic­tate— boot space ranges from 310 to 415 litres.

The rear seats can be cen­tralised a lit­tle as well (af­ter the cen­tre arm­rest piece is re­moved) or the whole lot folded for­ward, tilted up or re­moved as re­quired, which at its most use­ful gives load space of 1665L. This is ex­cel­lent ver­sa­til­ity— the myr­iad seat­ing po­si­tions and use­ful hooks and nooks in the boot mean cart­ing kids and chat­tels is, well, child’s play.

SAFETY

Five stars from NCAP adorn a safety features list that in­cludes seven airbags, front fog­lights, ac­tive head re­straints, pre­ten­sion­ers on the front seat belts and lap-sash belts for the three rear seats.

DRIV­ING

Hav­ing just switched from some­thing far more sporty, I was ex­pect­ing to re­cal­i­brate my driv­ing style big time. Not so.

De­spite the tall-box de­sign theme, the Yeti feels any­thing but un­wieldy. The turbo diesel’s use­ful spread of torque teams well with the slick­shift­ing twin-clutch au­to­mated man­ual, slip­ping through traf­fic on part-throt­tle in a re­laxed and easy man­ner.

The easy de­mands on the throt­tle trans­late to good fuel econ­omy— the claim for the com­bined cy­cle is 6.7L/100km and af­ter our stint the trip com­puter showed 7.3L/100km (at an av­er­age of 32km/h).

The cabin is rea­son­ably quiet and the pow­er­plant doesn’t in­trude greatly ei­ther; ne­go­ti­at­ing sec­ond-rate met­ro­pol­i­tan roads is also done with rea­son­able aplomb.

The view is good through the tall glasshouse and the slightly higher than nor­mal driv­ing po­si­tion gives a lit­tle ex­tra for­ward vi­sion in the traf­fic. But the loftier ride doesn’t greatly harm the Yeti’s ap­peal when the roads be­come twisty and de­serted, with the sus­pen­sion keep­ing the body un­der rea­son­able con­trol.

Un­sealed sur­faces bring the Skoda back to a po­si­tion of author­ity, as it ac­quits it­self well on dirt roads. De­spite the front bias, the Haldex4WD set-up feels bet­ter than most, re­spond­ing in a timely man­ner to changes in trac­tion.

There’s only 180mm of ground clear­ance yet it is less likely to belly than some larger off-road­ers when clam­ber­ing over lumps and bumps. And there’s lit­tle in the way of com­plaint from the elec­tron­ics work­ing to main­tain trac­tion.

That said, it’s no rock­hop­per and you’d want mo­men­tum on your side in the sand. Its prow­ess in the dirt is bet­ter than some ri­vals.

VER­DICT

The Czech has a bit of charisma and plenty of flex­i­bil­ity, liv­ing up to the brand’s ‘‘ Sim­ply Clever’’ mantra. I really like this Yeti, looks and all.

Tallish story: The boxy styling sets the Yeti apart but gives plenty of space and flex­i­bil­ity

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