Skoda Yeti

There's nothing abominable about Skoda's new SUV. It's rugged without being aggressive and tough, yet sensitive

Here's a comment entered in my notebook during the presentation of Skoda's new Yeti. It suggests it is not abominable at all. "An SUV I really warm towards," I wrote, "friendly, fun – I'm won over."

This newspaper is no fan of the conventional SUV, but I can see the appeal of smaller, gentler, nimbler and greener incarnations. The Yeti is one of those, and sufficiently MPV-like to be considered a "crossover" albeit further towards the mud'n'rocks end of the scale than rivals such as the Nissan Qashqai and the new Peugeot 3008.

What converted me to Yetiphilia, then? The design, for a start. It gives the required impression of ruggedness without looking aggressive or overbearing, thanks to a short nose, a happy face and the bulk-reducing trick of blacked-in pillars for the windscreen and rear corners while the centre pillar, slightly backward-raked, ties roof and body together.

First impressions on climbing aboard are of a quality once unimaginable in a Skoda. It's almost Audi-like in the surface textures and in the fit and finish, and luxurious leather trim is available towards the top (around £22,000) of the price list. There's plenty of room, and the "Varioflex" rear seats can be slided forwards or back, reclined, folded flat, tipped forward in that folded state or removed. Just like you used to able to do in most MPVs, in fact.

You can also remove the middle seat and reposition the outer seats nearer to each other, so creating more shoulder and elbow room. The boot is deep and capacious, with optional bars on each side incorporating sliding hooks to which you can attach load-restraining nets, and there's a clip-on, semi-circular "wall" which can corral smaller items against the right-hand wheel hump.

The engine range shows welcome downsizing, starting at a mere 1.2 litres. A turbocharger gives this little motor a big heart and 105bhp, just as it does in the new Volkswagen Polo, recently praised in these pages. It has a harder job hauling the heavier Yeti but it's lively enough and likely to be frugal.

This could be the optimum Yeti for many. The fact that it has front-wheel drive only probably won't matter to most buyers; the fact that it's the only Yeti available with a seven-speed DSG two-pedal transmission probably will. Otherwise all Yetis have a six-speed manual apart from the lowest-powered (110bhp) 2.0 turbodiesel which gets five gears when matched to front-wheel drive.

Four-wheel drive Yetis can have three different outputs of 2.0 turbodiesel (110, 140 or 170bhp), or the turbocharged 1.8-litre, 160bhp petrol engine that works so well in every Volkswagen group car in which it has so far appeared. The most powerful diesel certainly flings the Yeti along the road with vigour, helped by its considerable torque, but it's perceptibly gruffer than the milder versions of which the 140bhp one is the best compromise. All are quieter than diesels have previously been in Skodas because they now, at last, use common-rail injection.

But the engines aren't what make the Yeti the surprising machine that it is. That feat is performed by the suspension, whose springing and damping characteristics have been calibrated by a magician. The Yeti is supple enough to handle rough tracks or disintegrating British backroads, yet it feels crisp and keen to respond, making it good fun to drive.

And the 4x4 versions are remarkably capable off-road. Press the "off road" button and electronics recalibrate the traction control and the differential lock to suit loose surfaces, and there's a "downhill assistant" which automatically brakes as required to maintain the desired (slow) speed. If you want to go a little faster, just press the accelerator; bizarrely, this works even if you're in neutral and relying on the brakes to keep speed in check. The accelerator simply works as a variable electronic control.

I like the Yeti a lot. It's all the SUV most people could ever need, and a very fine MPV too. In some ways Skoda is the cleverest Volkswagen brand of all.

SUVs: the competition

Kia Soul Burner 1.6 CRDi: £14,995. Looks a bit like a 4x4 but isn't, and has a much smaller engine and lower price. But it looks the part, and does most of the job for most people.

Nissan Qashqai 2.0 dCi All-Mode: from £20,550. This four-wheel-drive version of hatchback-cum-SUV is more than most buyers need but Qashqai is capable and deservedly popular.

Peugeot 3008 2.0 HDI: from approx £20,000. Due here in October. Front-drive only, but clever traction systems maximise off-road ability. No beauty, but good on-road dynamics.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
tech
News
The 67P/CG comet as seen from the Philae lander
scienceThe most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
film
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Koenig, creator of popular podcast Serial, which is to be broadcast by the BBC
tvReview: The secret to the programme's success is that it allows its audience to play detective
News
Ruby Wax has previously written about her mental health problems in her book Sane New World
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £60,000

    £25000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

    Recruitment Genius: Care Workers Required - The London Borough of Bromley

    £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This homecare agency is based in Beckenh...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

    £25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

    £25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas