Skoda Yeti alive and well in great outdoors
- Credit: Skoda
Skoda's Yeti is very much alive and well after a comprehensive refresh, says Matt Joy of the Press Association.
How on earth do you take a success story and make it better? That's the difficult task facing Skoda with its all-conquering Yeti. First introduced in 2009 it tore up the rulebook with its novel approach to practical motoring, combining the best elements of a family hatchback with those of an sport utility vehicle to create the ideal crossover.
The public clearly thought so – more than 250,000 have been sold, many in the UK. But the competition never lets up so the Yeti has been enhanced with a facelifted version.
On the outside, the Yeti has been brought more into line with the family look, so there's a squared-off grille, smarter body-coloured elements all round and new bi-xenon headlights with LEDs. The round fog lights are gone and replaced by more discreet rectangular items too.
Even with a more mature and discreet look there's no mistaking the Yeti for anything else. It still has that tough, planted look and, with new choices of alloy wheel and paint colour, there's even more opportunity to stand out from the crowd. If you don't like the Yeti then these details probably won't change your mind, but the Yeti is distinctive and worthy of praise for that.
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As well as the standard Yeti there is now an Outdoor model which is better prepared for tough treatment. Outdoor models have black trim down the sides and on the lower edges of the bumpers, so bumps and scrapes won't break your heart. The bumpers are of a different design to allow better approach and departure angles if you venture off-road.
There are updates inside too with a new three-spoke steering wheel, new seat trims and fabrics plus the option of decorative inserts on the dashboard. It helps to lift the already good-quality feeling of the cabin, without sacrificing any of its utility.
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Interior flexibility is one of the Yeti's strongest assets. The load area is still 510 litres up to a maximum of 1,760 with all the seats removed – impressive for a car of this size. There's still the flexibility to slide, fold and remove the three individual rear seats too which few rivals offer.
Add to that new technology, such as a reversing camera and keyless start for the first time, plus clever features such as a rechargeable torch mounted in the boot and a high-vis vest holder under the front seat and you get the feeling the Yeti could cope with just about anything. Especially if you go for the four-wheel drive version, now equipped with the latest Haldex system that automatically diverts power to all four wheels only when needed which saves fuel and gives traction when needed which means all 4x4 versions now have lower CO2 emissions.
Getting comfortable as the driver is easy with plenty of adjustment for steering wheel and seat, and that raised driving position is a boon. It's also delightfully easy to drive – the manual gearbox is slick, pedal weights nice and light and the steering well weighted and accurate.
Despite its modest size, the 1.2 TSI turbo petrol version gets along very well indeed, behaving like a much larger naturally-aspirated engine and pulling the Yeti along more than quick enough to keep up with the traffic flow.
However the best all-rounder has to be the 140PS 2.0 TDI turbo diesel, which comes in four-wheel drive Outdoor form. With more torque than you really need you can get up to speed with complete ease, and cruising never needs any effort even on hills.
The security of four-wheel drive traction also means you can hustle the Yeti along if you want to and – despite its height – it feels secure, comfortable and even good fun.
That the revised Yeti has gained improvements and additions rather than wholesale changes tells you everything you need to know – this was an excellent car to start with, and the changes have merely added to its appeal. It's a family car you need not make excuses for.