2014 SKODA YETI 103TDI REVIEW
Vehicle style: Compact SUV
Price: $33,590 (plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 103kW/350Nm 2.0litre 103TDI | 6spd dual-clutch DSG
Fuel economy claimed: 6.7 l/100km | tested: 7.1 l/100km.
At its launch, we put the last model Skoda Yeti through a torture test along the bed of the Finke River in the Northern Territory. We took it in, and then out again, camping at a spectacular remote spot known creatively as Boggy Hole.
It was really tough going. But the way the Yeti handled that offroad challenge - not to mention a high-speed dash back to the Alice Springs Airport - meant the little Czech greatly endeared itself to us at The Motor Report.
We’ve found the spacious and well-packaged Yeti surprisingly capable since, both on made roads and some way off them.
So why hasn’t it sold better? Especially to family buyers? Perhaps the diesel AWD model’s original price tag - a hefty $37,990 - wasn’t as endearing as the car.
But now, that’s fixed: the new model 103TDI comes in at a pin-sharp $33,590.
With room for a family, flexible seating and a lusty diesel under the bonnet, there is a lot of car packed into that price.
While still a boxy affair, the new Yeti comes with some front-and-rear styling tweaks, more standard equipment and updated technology.
Quality: While not in the same class as the interiors of its Audi and Volkswagen cousins, the Yeti’s cabin is a pleasant place to be.
There is a nice soft plastic dash, leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel and brushed-metal trim highlights. Chrome rings for the instrument cluster add a quality-feel to the ambience.
Surface textures generally are pleasant-looking and appealing.
The handbrake and gear levers also get the leather treatment and there are chrome interior door handles.
What does stand out interior-wise is the Yeti’s Varioflex rear-seat system. It makes the little Czech one of the most user-friendly and versatile small SUVs on the planet.
Comfort: While the front seats are comfortable enough in most situations, we’d like a tad more bolstering - especially for the seat base.
The front seats do, however, have height adjustment and lumbar support and there are four roof-mounted grab handles.
Importantly for the driver, the steering wheel is height and reach-adjustable and this combined with plenty of seat adjustment means it’s easy to dial up the preferred driving position.
Equipment: There is a five-inch touch-screen, eight-speaker AM/FM/CD audio system with an MP3, Bluetooth audio streaming, USB and AUX connectivity, an SD card slot and GSM II with Bluetooth connectivity.
Adding to the Yeti’s safety credentials is a rear-vision camera and front-and-rear parking sensors and creature comforts include dual-zone climate-control air-con.
Also on the 103TDI’s standard-kit menu are powered front-and-rear windows, cruise control and tinted windows.
Storage: With the rear seats in place, the Yeti offers 321 litres of cargo space. But remove them using the Varioflex seating system, and this rises to a cavernous 1665 litres.
The vertical tailgate lifts easily and with 1.87 metres of width and a low lip (only 712mm from the ground), loading and unloading is a piece of cake.
The rear cargo area’s shelf can be removed and there are handy under-floor bins and plenty of hooks and nets to secure your load.
Other storage cubby holes include a sunglasses holder, a hidey hole beneath the front-passenger’s seat, two front cup-holders and two in the rear that are housed in the drop-down centre armrest.
There is also a good-sized illuminated and air-conditioned glove box, map pockets behind the front-seat backs, front-and-rear door pockets that can accommodate a one-litre bottle in the front and a 500ml bottle in the rear.
Other handy storage cubby holes include a lidded dash-top tray, an open bin at the base of the centre stack and another bin beneath the centre arm rest.
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: The Yeti is a fun and easy-to-drive little SUV with excellent on-road stability and control, irrespective of the road conditions.
Gravel roads are handled with all the poise and surefootedness you’d expect from a 4X4 SUV, all-round visibility is excellent and driver ergonomics are well thought-out.
Thanks to its stability and grip, we found you can drive the Yeti with rather more enthusiasm than you would usually try with other vehicles in its segment.
As little SUVs go, this one has a more sporty and dynamic feel than most of its competitors.
Because of its 350Nm of torque, hills and overtaking are a breeze. It is also not troubled nor slow to react when carrying a load.
The Yeti’s six-speed DSG does what all dual-clutch transmissions are renowned for - lightning-fast gear changes.
Refinement: Small SUVs are not usually thought of as being overly refined but the Yeti, again, is among the better performers in the segment.
There is a little road noise, but not intrusive, wind noise is low and just a nice diesel groan from under the bonnet when travelling at highway speeds.
It feels a little classier than the typical ‘small wagon’.
Ride and handling: We’ve driven quite a few Skoda models in recent months and we continue to be impressed with the marque’s steering and handling, and chassis tuning.
With a MacPherson-strut and stabiliser front suspension and four-link independent rear (with coil springs and an anti-roll bar), the Yeti sits firmly and securely on the road.
Under normal driving conditions, the car’s fifth-generation Haldex all-wheel-drive system keeps the rear axle in free-running mode and only when its electronics detect that all-wheel-drive is required does it kick in and send torque to the rear wheels.
The AWD and handling tune imparts a good sense of control on all road surfaces. It has no trouble dealing with gravel and broken roads.
Braking: Stopping power comes from ventilated front discs and solid discs for the rear. Typical for the Volkswagen Group, braking performance is very good.
ANCAP Rating: 5-Stars. The Yeti scored 34.67 points out of a possible 37.
Safety features: Seven airbags, ABS brakes, engine-braking control, an electronic differential lock, anti-slip regulation, electronic stability control that includes hill-hold control,, electronic brake-force distribution, emergency fuel-supply cut-off, an electronic engine immobiliser, whiplash-optimised head restraints and height-adjustable three-point front seatbelts and three-point rear belts.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years unlimited kilometres. An extended five-year warranty with other benefits is available for $1760.
Service costs: Capped-price servicing is offered from participating Skoda dealers.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
Volkswagen Tiguan Pacific 103TDI AWD ($38,890) - Looking a bit dated now, and, though it costs nearly $5k more, its drivetrain (diesel engine, but seven-speed DSG) is much the same as the Yeti’s.
The Yeti has the more practical interior and is, arguably, more for the younger at heart than the staid Tiguan. (see Tiguan reviews)
Hyundai ix35 AWD Highlander ($40,990) - Not as classy as the Yeti nor as practical, the somewhat expensive ix35 is solid buying but not particularly dynamic nor as enjoyable on-road.
It’s a leader in the segment but doesn’t have the personality nor charm of the Yeti. (see ix35 reviews)
Mitsubishi ASX 2.2 litre turbo-diesel ($36,490) - Another that now looks expensive next to the Yeti. It’s lively but also a bit of a hoary old drive, with a fair bit of both road and mechanical noise when pushed along. (see ASX reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturers’ List Price and do not include dealer-delivery and on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
While retaining its boxy appearance, the front-and-rear styling tweaks and some new interior features maintain the Yeti’s appealing persona.
It’s a car that drives better than most in a somewhat crowded category that has many more petrol than diesel offerings.
True, we have been surprised that more small SUV buyers haven’t put a Yeti in their garage.
With sharp new pricing, more features, very good on-road (and off) performance and clever technologies, maybe this will now change.
Certainly the Yeti’s brilliant interior flexibility sets it apart and adds to the family appeal.
Diesel or petrol, it’s definitely a car that should be on small SUV buyers’ shopping lists. Test one and you just might be surprised.
PRICING (excludes off-road costs)
- Yeti Active 77TSI petrol - Manual - $23,490
- Yeti Active 77TSI petrol - DSG - $25,790
- Yeti Ambition 90TSI petrol - DSG - $28,290
- Yeti 4x4 Outdoor 103TDI diesel - DSG - $33,590
- Tech Pack [Ambition, 4x4 Outdoor] - $2,900
- Off-Road Pack [4x4 Outdoor] - $500