You can truly believe in this rugged new Yeti’s talents
- Credit: Justin Leighton
The facelifted Skoda Yeti range now offers double the appeal, says motoring editor Andy Russell.
The abominable snowman is still a myth, having never been caught, but Skoda's Yeti has certainly captured people's imagination.
As compact sport utility vehicles and crossovers go, the Yeti may not be the most stylish but it's certainly fun to drive and functional and those qualities have made it a popular choice, both new and used.
More new SUVs and crossovers are coming on to the market while those marques which have already made their mark are also growing their appeal with fresh versions.
One such model is Skoda's Yeti which has been given a facelift to bring its family face and styling into line with newer Skoda models, as well as gaining new technology and equipment and improving emissions.
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The other big news is that Skoda has doubled the Yeti's appeal with two distinct versions with different design features so owners can choose the one suiting their needs.
Yeti, with its body-colour bumpers, sills and side strips and front-wheel drive, is aimed at buyers who will spend all their time in the urban jungle and on the Tarmac but like a driving position that is higher than in a conventional car.
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More adventurous new Yeti Outdoor has more rugged looks with bumpers, complete with some unpainted black trim, geared more for off-road use. The Yeti Outdoor's styling is more character-building than outlandishly over-the-top. Bigger-engined versions of Yeti Outdoor are also offered with a new fifth-generation four-wheel drive system which makes the Yeti pretty effective getting to grips with getting off the beaten track. An off-road button – optional on S and SE and standard on Elegance and Laurin & Klement versions – helps maintain control in tough driving conditions. It includes downhill and uphill start assist and improved traction.
A good range of turbo charged engines includes 105PS 1.2 TSI petrol and 1.6 TDI diesel, as well as a 160PS 1.8 TSI petrol in the top Outdoor trim, but many owners will go for the 2.0 TDI offered in 110, 140 and 170PS guises.
I tried the 140PS version which is more about useful low-down pull than top-end poke. Keep the revs down and it's refined, returning 44-46mpg, but wind it up and things get rather raucous.
It drives nicely with tidy handling, plenty of grip on the 4x4 version and taut body control through corners but the ride was over-sensitive on poor surfaces, not helped by my test car still having winter tyres fitted.
The well-finished cabin feels built to last with the upright driving position having plenty of adjustment, good all-round visibility from the large expanse of glass and sensible, well-sited controls.
Four adults have more than enough head and legroom with the outer VarioFlex rear seats sliding back and forth but anyone in the narrow middle one has to contend with a large hump in the floor and intrusion from the centre console. Rear seat backs fold flat and all three seats can be tumbled upright or removed – you can even leave the middle seat out and move the side ones inwards to create a four-seater with more shoulder room.
The 416-litre boot is well shaped and well protected, expanding to 1,580 litre with the seats upright and 1,760 litres with them removed.
The elusive yeti mountain man is going to have to be seen to be believed but this Skoda Yeti's many talents are abundantly clear.