Thrills but no frills

Skoda’s no-fuss com­pact com­muter is more car for less money

Herald Sun - Motoring - - ROAD TEST - CRAIG DUFF craig.duff@news.com.au

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.

VALUE

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.

TECH­NOL­OGY

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.

DE­SIGN

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.

SAFETY

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.

DRIV­ING

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.

VER­DICT

More palat­able fea­tures backed by bet­ter pric­ing make the Yeti some­thing to look out for. It’s a big SUV with a small foot­print.

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