SKODA YETI 112TSI REVIEW
Vehicle Style: Compact SUV
Price: $32,990 (six-speed manual) | $35,290 (seven-speed DSG)
Power and torque: 118kW/250Nm (man) | 112kW/250Nm (DSG)
Acceleration 0-100km/h: 8.4 seconds (man) | 9.0 seconds (DSG)
Fuel consumption (claimed): 8.4 l/100km (man) | 8.2 l/100km (DSG)
This Yeti, the 112TSI, is 'the missing link' for Skoda Australia.
Skoda's boxy, perky little SUV is better than you might think - we like the Yeti a lot - but sales here have been hampered by a too-large gap in the range.
Previously, if the $26,290 (manual) 2WD 77TSI didn't do it for you, there was a nearly $10k gap to the $35,690 (manual) diesel 103TDI.
But now, at $32,990 for the six-speed manual 112TSI, Skoda has its middle model. And, with a zesty petrol 4WD drivetrain, it gives Skoda access to the largest and strongest selling segment in the compact 4WD sector.
The result, Skoda hopes, is that you will be seeing a lot more Yetis in a lot more garages in the 'hood.
We drove both the six-speed manual and six-speed DSG - the latter tickles the bank at $35,290 (there's a $2300 premium for the DSG).
But neither of those three, even the competent Sportage, can match the personality and on-road verve of the Skoda.
The Yeti has another surprising ace up its sleeve: because it sits on the basic platform of the medium-sized Octavia (but with a wider wheel-base), it is surprisingly roomy inside.
There's ample space for long teenage legs in the back seat plus room for all their clobber in the boot.
It's certainly worth a close look by family buyers. But don't take our word for it - give it a run, we think you'll be pleasantly surprised.
Fit and finish to the interior is, typically for Skoda, of a very high standard. From the wheel, things look good and feel good.
It won't win any design awards for flair and emotion, but there is a restrained no-nonsense style to its layout with nothing out of place nor jarring.
Tactile surfaces along the dash and doors feel good, the instrument binnacle is clear and easily read, a neat full-width metal garnish anchors the lines of the dash and centre-stack, the Bolero radio/CD has a clear display and there's a quality feel to the switchgear.
The overwhelming impression is one of brick-like robustness - that this interior will take a lot of punishment in daily use without dissolving into a sea of rattles of squeaks.
The fabric-trimmed seats are comfortable, with ample adjustment, and the multi-function wheel adjusts for rake and reach. (I'd prefer to be able to set the wheel lower, but I'd suspect I'm in the minority.)
Shoulder-room feels a little tight - the Yeti doesn't have the airy spaciousness of the Mazda CX-5 for instance - but it does have loads of leg and headroom.
With a six-footer at the wheel, there was still ample leg and kneeroom in the seat behind for another six-footer.
Neither is the mid-spec 112TSI short on features.
It comes with dual-zone climate control, six-CD stacker, MP3, aux-in, eight-speaker stereo, Bluetooth, multi-function trip-computer, auto lights (with a 'coming home' function), rain-sensing wipers, silver roof rails, Skoda's versatile 'VarioFlex' seating system with up to 20 seating configurations, adjustable hooks and eyes in the boot for tying cargo down, front foglights and underbody protection.
For safety, you can count on seven airbags (including a driver's knee airbag), plus stability control, traction control, ABS brakes and hill-hold assist.
Should you find yourself a little uncomfortably off the beaten track, its offroad tech includes hill-start and hill-descent assist, plus off road modes for the traction and stability control.
On The Road
Whether at the wheel of the DSG or six-speed manual, each is pretty brisk.
The manual in particular, with an extra 6kW (it is actually a 118TSI) is very lively through the gears and the brattish little 1.8 litre DOHC under the bonnet will happily stretch beyond 7000rpm when asked.
Skoda claims 8.4 seconds for the 0-100km/h dash for the manual, and a none-too-sluggish 9.0 seconds for the DSG. For this segment, those numbers are better than good.
The DSG can be caught napping - it sometimes takes a hefty shove to get it to kick down (and we don't much like the dog-legged gate from Sport to manual operation) - and it's certainly not as quick around a mountain road nor does it have the fire of the manual when overtaking.
But that's not to say it's slow, it's not, it's just not as quick as the slick-shifting and sporty manual.
Whichever model you choose however, DSG or manual, each is a very satisfying and enjoyable performer on road. The 112TSI's willing urge is matched by an elastic 'long-travel' feel to the suspension that makes it particularly well-suited to Australian roads and road surfaces.
The result is that it is free from the kind of jarring that bedevils some other European cars on our ratty secondary roads. (Like, it's better than a number of its cousins sporting a VW badge.)
But while there is 'give' to the initial compliance, and a bit of extra body roll as a result, it doesn't produce excessive understeer or cornering instability.
In fact the opposite. For a boxy little SUV, the Yeti sticks to the road very nicely - even at speed (and we gave it a right old flogging).
On the bitumen, it is also quiet and exceptionally refined for a dual-purpose little wagon.
Take it off into the gravel, and the story is the same. Despite giving it a bit of a thumping over some long sections of rocky gravel road around Bathurst, we rarely found the bump-stop.
In fact, it can really be thrown around on roads like this. You can slide it into a corner with a dab on the brakes and a trailing throttle, line it up then fire it through the apex.
It's a bit of fun: the traction control allows just enough slide to position it into the corner, but will intervene if it looks like getting awfully messy. The DSG is a bit slower to recover power and not as quick as the manual in this kind of driving.
But, at the wheel, the Yeti's sporting nature is irrepressible: you do really have to keep reminding yourself you're in a family SUV.
First Drive Verdict
Mazda's very classy new CX-5 is arguably now the segment leader, but, for on-road verve, the 2.0 litre SkyActive petrol would struggle to see where the Yeti went.
Because it looks different; because it seems to be more little wagon than SUV, and because it's a car for the driver, the Yeti kind-of sits in a space of its own.
It's not the cheapest around (but neither is it dearest), but it's certainly one of the best and equally worth a very close look if you're shopping in this segment - even if you've got teens with legs like tree trunks.
Of the Yeti range, the missing link, the 112TSI, is the one we'd recommend.
- Yeti 77TSI six-speed manual - $26,290
- Yeti 77TSI seven-speed DSG - $28,590
- Yeti 112TSI six-speed manual - $32,990
- Yeti 112TSI six-speed DSG - $35,290
- Yeti 103TDI six-speed manual - $35,690
- Yeti 103TDI six-speed DSG - $37,990
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
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