Vehicle Style: Small SUV
Price: $28,290 (plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 90kW/200Nm 1.4 turbo petrol 4cyl | 7sp twin-clutch automatic
Fuel Economy claimed: 6.8 l/100km | tested: 8.1 l/100km
It’s well-built, drives great and can carry a great load despite its tiny footprint. But sadly for Skoda, such attributes have not translated into sales here.
In fact, with just 524 cars sold year-to-date, the Skoda Yeti acconts for a meagre 1 percent of the small SUV segment.
And that’s a great injustice, for the Yeti is a decent car that deserves consideration.
We drove the mid-grade 90TSI (a new addition for the 2014 model year) to remind ourselves why.
- Cruise control, climate control, power windows, cloth upholstery, keyless entry and ignition, reverse-parking sensors, reversing camera, 5-inch touchscreen infotainment display, trip computer, 17-inch alloys, USB, Bluetooth audio/telephony, front and rear parking sensors, dusk-sensing headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, foglamps.
- Infotainment: AM/FM/CD stereo with Bluetooth audio/phone integration and USB input. Optional GPS and premium audio fitted to test car as part of Tech Pack ($2900).
- Boot space: 310 litres at minimum, 1665 litres at maximum.
Compared to the pre-facelift Yeti, little has changed on the inside. There’s a new steering and some changes to materials here and there, but on the whole this is familiar furniture and it’s starting to look dated.
It’s practical though, and doesn’t feel hemmed-in despite the Yeti belonging in the Small SUV category.
There are plenty of neat storage options too, like the under-seat drawers up front and a configurable cargo rail in the boot, along with 40/20/40 split rear seats and a generous 1665 maximum boot capacity.
Backseaters also enjoy their own face-level air-vents, and if only two are sharing the rear bench then the centre section folds down to offer armrests and cupholders.
The rear seats slide fore and aft individually, and can also tumble forward or be removed completely for maximum cargo space.
And that gives the Yeti remarkable flexibility for a small SUV. If there is a niggle, it's that having the backrest release handles mounted in the centre of the car is mildly inconvenient.
Its seats-up capacity of 310 litres is also below average, but there’s still enough room for a large pram.
The spec sheet is healthy though, even when subtracting the optional GPS, bi-xenon headlamps, auto parking assist and premium audio system that was fitted to our tester.
The full list of equipment is above, but having things like front and rear parking sensors, a reversing camera, keyless entry and ignition, cruise control and dual-zone climate control makes the $28,290 Yeti 90 TSI good value indeed.
ON THE ROAD
- 90kW/200Nm 1.4 litre turbo petrol inline four
- 7 speed twin-clutch automatic gearbox, front-wheel drive
- MacPherson Strut front, multi-link rear suspension.
- Disc brakes front and rear
With the departure of the AWD 112TSI from the range, the Yeti 90TSI is not only new for 2014, it’s now the most powerful petrol-engined model you can get.
It’s also only available in front-wheel drive and with an automatic twin-clutch transmission, but that’s not exactly a handicap.
In fact, 2WD SUVs are increasing greatly in popularity, particularly at the small end of the SUV scale.
And though it’s got only 90kW of power and 200Nm of torque, the Yeti 90TSI feels peppy enough for urban driving.
The 1.4 litre turbo engine provides good low-down pulling power, and the seven-speed DSG gearbox has closely-stacked ratios that keeps the engine on the boil.
At low speeds though, that gearbox (as we've reported before) can be a tad annoying. It’s jerky when trying to slowly move away from a standstill, and it’s especially cantankerous in stop-start traffic.
A conventional automatic would surely be a better choice, but in "VW world" (which Skoda is a part of), DSGs are almost universally the only auto option.
Ride comfort is much more impressive. The Yeti rides smoothly (without being marshmallowy) and there’s good compliance from the 17-inch alloys and their Dunlop SP Sport tyres.
The Yeti also handles much better than the average small SUV, with wet weather traction being the only dynamic issue.
ANCAP rating: 5-Stars: the Skoda Yeti scored 34.67 out of 37 possible points in ANCAP testing.
Safety features: Seven airbags (front, front side, full-length curtain, driver’s knee), three-point seatbelts, anti-whiplash front headrests, ABS, EBD, brake assist, stability control and traction control.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
The small SUV segment is a crowded one, and there are many rivals for the Yeti to contend with.
Some trade heavily on price while others boast more space, but it’s the $28,490 Volkswagen Tiguan 118TSI that’s the greatest rival for the Yeti in terms of driveability and size.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
It’s value-packed and spacious, and a comfortable and appealing drive.
There’s still some room for improvement - particularly when it comes to transmission refinement at low speed. While VW has effectively solved that issue in DSG-equipped Tiguans, that refinement has yet to trickle down to cousin Skoda.
But the Yeti 90TSI has much to recommend it. Its pricing is especially sharp, and with a sub-$30k retail sticker there’s good value in the Yeti.
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