Thrills but no frills
Skoda’s no-fuss compact commuter is more car for less money
THE face of the original Skoda Yeti was truly an abomination. Too many people just couldn’t look past the front end to see how versatile this compact SUV can be. Fortunately the 2014 Yeti ditches the Neanderthal nose for a contemporary, rugged visage that’s a much better match for its interior utility.
The mid-range Ambition costs a competitive $28,290 and is powered by the same 1.4-litre turbo that is found in the VW Golf, though here it does without auto stop-start trickery. That doesn’t detract an iota from a stonkingly responsive engine that spools up such torque reserves at low revs that owners could mistake it for a turbo diesel.
Standard gear includes auto headlamps and wipers, reversing camera, eight-- speaker sound system, foglights and dual-zone aircon.
Each iteration of VW Group’s
DSG continues to iron out the takeoff-from-idle tardiness that is a hallmark of dual-clutch autos. It still isn’t perfect, with the occasional hesitation away from the lights, but its willingness to work once it’s under way more than compensates for this.
Ditching the bulbous round fog lights has done wonders for the Yeti’s appearance. The revised front end now looks much better integrated, with the fog light now reshaped as a horizontal strip on the edges of the bumper.
The boxy style stays — it’s a necessary evil that helps with the interior load and people-carrying capacity. The plastics are harder than in an equivalent VW but there are still soft-touch surfaces on the key contact points.
A five-star rating puts the Yeti to the fore of the small SUV pack. Its overall result of 34.67/37 reflects a minor risk of serious injury to the driver and passenger’s legs and to the driver’s chest in the offset frontal crash test. Seven airbags are standard fare and the Yeti’s brakes are up to the job of stopping it in a hurry.
The realigned prices for the new model mean customers are getting more car for less money as VW repositions its Czech brand down the scale.
There’s not a lot else out there for $28,290 that will drive as efficiently as the Yeti, once you forgive its initial firmness. It jiggles over small irregularities but deals with bigger hits far more tactfully.
It is a no-fuss commuter that’s easy to see out of and therefore easy to park. The steering is light and direct, the brakes are progressive and it doesn’t take much to learn the tricks of the VarioFold seating or the operation of the infotainment touchscreen.
For busy families who want well-built but unpretentious transport, the Yeti fits the bill in terms of space, ease of access and ease of operation.
The only downside is, despite the baby 4WD looks, the petrol-powered Yeti is frontwheel drive only.
Official fuel consumption is 6.7L/100km. Carsguide used in the low 9.0 realm with no focus on frugality.
More palatable features backed by better pricing make the Yeti something to look out for. It’s a big SUV with a small footprint.