2012 SKODA YETI REVIEW
Vehicle style: Compact 4x4 SUV
Fuel economy (claimed): 6.2 l/100km
Fuel economy (tested): not recorded
Skoda’s new Yeti is a little SUV with a big job. On its shoulders is the challenge of moving the Czech brand up the Australian pop charts.
All of this is not lost on Skoda Australia boss Matthew Wiesner. The Yeti, he says, is the most-important model for Skoda here since the Czech brand’s local resurrection in 2007.
“It’s a robust little thing and we see it as the most distinctive model in the Skoda range.”
He’s not wrong about the Yeti’s robustness.
The Motor Report joined Skoda in the magnificent Finke River gorge outside Alice Springs for the national media launch. We can confirm that it’s not frightened by the rough stuff. But there is more to Yeti than that.
Quality: The front seats are well shaped and bolstered, there’s a soft-topped central storage bin/arm rest, the dials are nice and clear and easy to read, and the dash is topped by quality soft-touch plastic. There are also plenty of front-and-rear storage cubby holes.
Comfort: A height- and reach-adjustable steering wheel combined with the seat’s adjustability meant dialing up the perfect driving position was a breeze.
The six-speed gearbox’s stubby sports-car-like shifter is positioned just right and the steering is nicely weighted, irrespective of the car’s speed.
There’s a surprising amount of interior room for both front- and rear-occupants, there are four roof-mounted grab handles and the rear cargo area has clever adjustable luggage-management bars and a 12-volt socket.
Equipment: The Yeti 4X4 is well-specified; standard goodies include front foglights, plenty of underbody protection, dual-zone climate-control, eight-speaker audio system with a six-CD stacker and MP3 compatibility, 17-inch alloy wheels, Bluetooth, a leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel and multi-function trip computer.
Also on the menu are automatic rain-sensing wipers, silver roof rails, automatic multi-function headlights, remote central locking, cruise control, front-and-rear power windows and power exterior mirrors.
There is also a range of options including a $3200 navigation system that sports a 30Gb hard drive, a combination of leather and make-believe leather trim for $2830 and a panoramic roof that tips the price-tag scales at $1990.
Storage: Cargo capacity ranges from 310 to 415 litres, growing to 1665 litres with the rear seats removed.
It’s the best thing about the Yeti’s interior - its seriously clever variable seat system. It allows eight seating configurations; its three rear-seats can be folded flat, removed individually (easily) or combinations of, or all three, removed.
There is also a braked towing capacity of 2.0 tonne (700kg unbraked).
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: The Yeti’s two-litre TDI turbo-diesel delivers 103kW of peak power at 4200rpm and a handy 320Nm of torque, on tap between a relaxed 1750 and 2500rpm.
Skoda claims a top speed of 190km/h and while we were limited to 130km/h on Northern Territory roads, we can confirm there was plenty left and the claimed top speed would clearly be attainable.
It’s worth noting that at 130km/h, the little ‘oiler’ was ticking over at just 2250rpm.
Refinement: Whether pounding over rocks, fighting its way through clawing Finke River sand or dashing down the black-top, the Yeti’s driveability, stability and overall refinement was impressive.
Suspension: The Yeti’s MacPherson-strut front set-up and its multi-element rear-axle arrangement both have torsion stabiliser bars; our exhaustive off-road and highway sprint drive program confirmed it’s pretty well sorted by the Czech engineers.
The car sits flat with minimal body-roll during tight cornering and it absorbs nasty bumps with equal aplomb.
The speed-dependent electro-hydraulic rack-and-pinion steering system is light when parking but firms up as speed rises.
Braking: The Yeti has discs all round and the system works just fine with the 225/50 R17 rubber to slow or stop the little SUV.
SAFETY | RATING: 5/5
ANCAP rating: (untested in Australia; Euro NCAP 5-Star)
Safety features: The Yeti’s safety kit is right up there with the best of its class. Included are seven airbags (including a driver’s knee bag), whiplash-optimised front head restraints, electronic stability control, ABS brakes with electronic brake-force distribution, anti-slip regulation and hill-hold control.
For an additional $290, buyers of the 103TDI can also specify an ‘off-road technology package’ that adds hill-start assist, hill-descent assist plus off-road modes for the ABS, ASR and electronic diff lock.
Three-year/unlimited kilometres; two-year warranty on Škoda genuine parts and accessories; three-year warranty for paint defects; and a 12-year anti-corrosion warranty.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
Kia Sportage 2.0 CRDI ($35,720 auto only): We like the Sportage; it’s value buying, very nicely styled and performs very well. It’s a tough choice but the Yeti has the better on-road feel and ‘personality’. (see Sportage reviews)
Hyundai ix35 CRDI Elite ($35,490 auto only): Another good car in a segment of good buys, the ix35 looks and feels a lot bigger than the Yeti but is not as responsive at the wheel, nor perhaps as versatile. But it’s another close one, and will depend on your needs. (see ix35 reviews)
Nissan X-Trail TS Wagon 4X4 2.0 DT ($35,990 manual): Bigger but lacking the charisma and fun-factor of the Yeti. It’s good off-road though and will suit buyers who need the extra space the X-Trail offers. (see X-Trail reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
The 2012 Skoda Yeti is a surprise packet. Skoda’s tough media-launch drive program – one that combined fast highway cruising with a seriously challenging Finke river-bed drive – proved it.
In fact, the launch was perhaps the most challenging and courageous by an Australian car company for 2011.
But the Yeti is not just a versatile and capable compact SUV, it’s also generously specified and very well-built. And, of course, its access to the best of Volkswagen drivetrains and technology is a major plus.
In summary, the Yeti has loads of appeal and will certainly catch the eyes of the younger audience Skoda Australia is working to attract. It will, equally certainly, do much to lift the brand’s profile in this market.