Why don’t we have Yetis in New Zealand? That’s a question seldom asked here. I mean we have enough crazy people to see them and it was Sir Ed Hillary that first climbed the highest peak in their native Himalayan region, surely he could have organised safe passage for at least one. But we still don’t have any Yetis¦ until now.
Skoda has come to the rescue and made its new Yeti crossover vehicle available to all curious kiwis. So is this latest product from the world’s most underrated automaker really a dynamically competent, uniquely styled and keenly priced specimen? Or is that just fantasy? Car and SUV tracked down one of NZ’s very first Yetis to find out more.
At first glance the Yeti is distinctive and modern but probably won’t scare anyone. Its nose is the Skoda corporate grille that sits between uniquely designed headlight clusters. Character lines crease the bonnet and a colour-coded B-pillar breaks up the wraparound glass house. It’s neutral in stance and is fairly restrained but still displays soft roader styling cues like enlarged wheel arches, black plastic protective skirting, integrated roof rails and nudge plates front and rear. The rugged yet refined look is finished off with 5-spoke, 17-inch alloy wheels. Overall, it’s a well-defined vehicle, while it won’t suit all tastes, it’s square back, chunky bumpers and four-eyed face have an unorthodox charm.
Climb inside the Yeti and you’re greeted with a very spacious, airy cabin. The boxy exterior allows for generous headroom and leg and shoulder room isn’t heavily compromised in any seating position either. Our test vehicle was fitted with the optional panoramic sunroof ($2,500) and it let buckets of light in. The leather seating ($3,300 option) was comfortable and felt quality, the rear seat is slightly raised to allow better visibility and has a variety of adjustments. It divides into three sections and each can be slid, folded or completely removed. The middle section of the rear seat will also lean forward to create a table and a 2+2 seating arrangement. The hatch compartment comes equipped with a false floor, extra side compartments, nets and even sliding shopping bag hooks. Luggage capacity varies from 322 litres to a capacious 1,665 litres with the rear seats fully removed.
With access to the VW-group parts bin the Yeti dashboard is well laid out and makes use of high quality materials. While more conservative than the exterior styling the cabin makes use of silver and chrome trim to break up the dark plastics and leather. Functionality is excellent with large instruments, multi-function display screen, and steering wheel audio and Bluetooth controls. The standard equipment list is impressive with 6-Disc touch screen stereo, auto dimming rear view mirror, chilled cool box in armrest, cruise control, dual-zone air conditioning, and multi-function trip computer all included.
Turn the key and the Yeti’s diesel heart beats into life. Under the bonnet lays a 2.0-litre turbo diesel engine that pumps out 103kW of power and a useful 320Nm of torque. It’s a strong unit that offers smooth, solid acceleration and has a reassuring level of torque on demand. It’s a comfortable motorway cruiser and shows a genuine willingness to be pushed on the open road. It’s also fairly refined with very little in the way of rattles and noise entering the cabin.
On our test vehicle the diesel engine was mated to a 6-speed manual transmission rather than the 6-speed DSG box. It’s an easy set up to get used to with a light clutch pedal and nicely spaced gear gate. Like many 2-litre diesels the Yeti can get slightly bogged down at low rpm, but if you keep the revs a little higher before changing gear or setting off it’s not an issue. Fuel economy is excellent for a 4×4 at a quoted 6.0l/100km combined; during testing we managed 6.2l/100km with a mix of suburban and motorway driving.
In terms of handling dynamics the Yeti is comfortable and sure-footed. A wide stance and four-wheel-drive system means the car feels squat and flat even with its increased ride height. The steering is communicative without being twitchy and the suspension set-up uses a torsion stabiliser to assist in gobbling up road dips and bumps.
The Yeti behaves very well on road but isn’t easily startled by rougher terrain either. Under normal driving conditions 90% of the torque is sent to the front wheels for optimum fuel economy. If a loss in traction is detected a Haldex multi-disc clutch can send up to 90% of the torque to the rear axle and even 85% of torque to any single wheel as a last resort. It’s an advanced system and combined with a limited slip diff and a 180mm ground clearance the Yeti is very capable of light off-road duties.
Safety is a strength for Skoda and the Yeti comes loaded with features. There are front, side, curtain and even a driver’s knee airbag as standard. For the kids there are ISOFIX seat points, and passenger seat airbag deactivation. Electronic safety aids include ABS brakes with an electronic braking distribution system and a full electronic stability programme.
It’s interesting that Skoda went with a Yeti nameplate because as a company it understands what it’s like to be misunderstood. Some potential buyers still turn their noses up at owning a Skoda but they are really only hurting themselves. Despite the hairy, semi-fictitious nature of the Yeti’s namesake, as a car it’s a class act with good refinement, a strong diesel engine, impressive dynamics and a spacious interior. Priced from $45,500 you wouldn’t call it a steal but for the equipment level and VW-group quality, that’s a fair price. If you’re stuck in the wilderness searching for a crossover vehicle that’s family-orientated, innovative and a little bit different then look a little harder and uncover the Skoda Yeti.
Price: from $45,500
What we like:
- High quality interior
- Driving dynamics
- Flexible and economical diesel engine
What we don’t like:
- Looks won’t suit all tastes
- Low rpm torque
Words and Photos: Adam Mamo
Other reviews of interest:
Skoda Yeti (2010) – Specifications
Engine Type Turbo Diesel
Displacement (cm3) 1,968
Power Output – kW @ rpm 103 @ 4,200
Torque – Nm @ rpm 320 @ 1,750 – 2,500
Drive train Four Wheel Drive
Transmission – manual 6 speed Manual
Fuel Economy – EU, In Town (Litres/100km) 7.1
Fuel Economy – EU, Out of Town (Litres/100km) 5.3
Fuel Economy – EU, Combined (Litres/100km) 6.0
CO2 Emissions (g/km) 157 (169)
Diesel Particulate Filter std
Emissions Standard EU5
0-100 km/ h in seconds 9.9
Maximum speed in km/h 190
Drag Coefficient 0.37
Length (mm) 4,223
Width (mm) 1,793
Height (mm) 1,691
Luggage Capacity (litres) 322 to 1,665
Fuel Capacity (litres) 60