Skoda’s mean green Yeti
A 'green' version of Skoda's Yeti makes this crossover even more appealing, says Andy Russell.
It was an inverted kind of badge snobbery – there I was in the smart heart of London amid a plethora of Porsches, a fistful of Ferraris and a mass of Maseratis… in a Skoda.
Amid all these supercars, not to mention more BMWs, Mercedes and Audis than you could shake a stick at, at least the Skoda stood out from the crowd… and with all this exotica around it was unlikely any dubious characters would be interested in it when parked!
Maybe that's why Skoda called its crossover, a mix of soft-roader and hatchback, the Yeti – because like the abominable snowman you don't see many of them. And that's a great shame because the Yeti, which has just passed the 100,000 made milestone, is a talented all-rounder.
It's not difficult to see the growing appeal of this new breed of crossovers – cars that combine practical family transport, rugged 4x4 styling, extra ground clearance and a choice of front and all-wheel drive. A sort of one size fits all.
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Skoda has boosted the Yeti's appeal with an 'eco' model joining the wide-ranging line-up of 1.2, 1.4 and 1.8 turbo petrol and three 2.0-litre turbo diesel engines.
Badged GreenLine II along with other eco models across the Skoda range, like the equivalent Octavia and Superb the new Yeti version sees the new common-rail 105PS 1.6-litre turbo diesel join the line-up, available only with front-wheel drive. With the ability to return more than 61mpg – nine more than the lowest-powered 110PS 2.0 TDI – it also sees CO2 emissions of 119g/km, so no road tax for the first 12 months, compared to 140g/km.
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It also has a range of fuel-saving, emission-cutting measures including automatic engine stop/start, energy recuperation – converting kinetic energy created by movement into electricity and storing it in the battery so the alternator is needed less which reduces load on the engine, better aerodynamics thanks to suspension lowered 20mm and low-profile, higher-pressure tyres, which means less road friction, along with lighter alloy wheels. To further keep weight down there is a reduced list of options although Skoda points out that safety and comfort have not been compromised.
So, if you are one of the growing band of greener motorists, it all sounds very commendable but what's it like to drive?
With peak low-down pulling power on tap from 1,500-2,500rpm it's flexible enough so you don't have to keep stirring it into life with the five-speed gearbox. It's responsive in the mid-range for safe overtaking and cruises comfortably and quietly at the legal limit. Even with a lot of snarled-up city driving and a fast motorway run it achieved a commendable 55mpg
Given the Yeti is taller than your average hatchback or estate, it doesn't disappoint in the way it drives, cornering competently with good steering feel and the lowered suspension keeping body roll in check. The downside is that the ride is a little more sensitive to bumps and lumps at low speeds but cruising on the open road it is comfortable.
The Yeti is square and boxy, but in my book that means practical and spacious, and with more than 20 different rear seating positions there won't be a lot it can't cope with.
The outer rear seats slide back and forth, so there's plenty of legroom when needed, and have adjustable backrests while the three rear seat backs fold flat and the seats can be tumbled upright or removed. You can even just take out the smaller middle seat and move the outer ones inwards to create a four-seater car with more shoulder room in the back – all very clever. And you still get a shapely 416-litre boot, bigger than a mid-range hatchback and enough for a decent load of luggage. Tumble the rear seats upright and it grows to an estate car-rivalling 1,580 litres, remove them altogether and you've got 1,760 litres.
The interior is nicely trimmed with durable materials, big traditional gauges and simple, sensible controls and a wealth of storage opportunities. The driving position has all the adjustment you need to find the ideal set-up and large glass areas mean excellent all-round visibility.
The Yeti GreenLine II comes in S, SE and Elegance trim levels. All get air-conditioning, seven airbags including one for the driver's knees, a host of electronic aids to keep you on the road, alloy wheels, front fog lights and four electric windows. SE gains rear parking sensors, cruise control, dual-zone air-con and upgraded audio system with six-CD changer. Elegance adds leather seats, hill-hold control, multi-function steering wheel, Bluetooth, brighter Bi-xenon headlamps which give extra light into corners, heated front seats and automatic lights and wipers.
The more I drive the Yeti the more I like it – it's not exotic but in its own way it's something of a super car!
SKODA YETI 1.6 TDI GREENLINE II ELEGANCE
Price: �20,185 (GreenLine II range from �16,865)
Engine: 1,598cc, 105PS, four-cylinder turbo diesel
Performance: 0-62mph 12.1 seconds; top speed 109mph
MPG: Urban 54.3; extra urban 67.3; combined 61.4
Benefit-in-kind tax rate: 13pc
Insurance group: 9 (out of 50)
Warranty: Three years/60,000 miles
Will it fit in the garage? Length 4,223mm; width (including door mirrors) 1,956mm; height 1,691mm