Škoda Yeti Review, with Enduring Affection

In Car Reviews, Skoda by Neil Lyndon

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“That’s a nice little Yeti standing outside,” said my wife, looking out of our bedroom windows at the new Skoda Yeti that had come to our house for a week’s loan. “Can we keep it?”

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Enduring affection for the Yeti is shared by all members of our family.

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Shortly after this compact SUV first appeared in 2009, I was lent one for a year’s test. During those 12 months, the car won every heart in the house, as well as every motoring award in Europe (including a unique accolade of approval from that rabid SUV-hater, Jeremy Clarkson).

 

In the Scottish hills where we live, 2009-10 was the hardest winter since 1963. More than a metre of snow was standing round the house at Christmas. Our long drive, down a rough track from a minor road at hundreds of feet above sea-level, turned into a stretch of sheet ice like the Cresta Run. Having started to fall before the end of November, the snow was still on the ground at the end of February.

Our four-wheel drive Yeti overcame all these trials without turning a hair. When I drove it up the drive after a particularly heavy blizzard, it butted through the drifts like a mole. After two months in which it was as impossible to clean as it would have been pointless, it looked like a command car from the battle of Stalingrad. A tidemark of filth ran around its waist while its roofline was hung with grubby icicles. Even so, it was never less than 100% reliable, 100% secure and 100% a pleasure to use.

Fittingly, given this battlefield history, our new Yeti came in a shade of olive called Jungle Green that was quite close to US Army fatigues. That paintjob is a new option and one of the few indications that the Yeti has now undergone its first full revision. Others are more aggressive bumpers (with low-level spots at the front) and deep side skirts). In recognition of the fact that most purchasers will never use their car on any surface but paved roads, Skoda has split the range between a two-wheel drive City version and a four-wheel drive Outdoor option, with raised wheel arches, armoured body kit, and reinforced undersides front and back. Perhaps remembering the cruel and unusual treatment the car took at our hands five years ago, Skoda prudently sent me the Outdoor version this time.

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It was a true delight to be reacquainted. It’s easy to forget how impressive Skoda’s build quality feels in this car. I once sat next to VW’s group director for manufacturing for dinner and he told me that he’d have many fewer headaches if all the factories in the group could match the quality of Skoda’s factory at Mlada Boleslav near Prague. They Yeti is built at a number of plants flung all across eastern Europe and Asia but the point survives: Skodas are still exceptionally well-built.

Nobody would ever call it a looker. The uncompromising, adamantly square and boxy Yeti was always far from a picture of elegance but there is, consequently, no danger its looks will ever fade with age. Accessibility is excellent through the broad doors, all-round visibility is irreproachable and rear head and leg room are as good as any. By comparison with Nissan’s Qashqai and Kia’s Sportage, the load space under the Yeti’s rear hatch is limited at 416 litres but the entire second row of seats can be removed to create a load space like a van’s at 1760 litres. Nifty fastening devices in the rear keep stuff from rolling around.

The days when Skodas were cheap are long gone. The revised Yeti starts at a little under £17000. The 2.0 litre diesel TDI SE version I borrowed tops out at £25355 – a good £10k more than the top spec Dacia Duster we recently bought.

That diesel is a clonker at idling and low speeds but it smooths out as speeds pick up. The six-speed gearbox on this unit is as sweet as a nut and the driving dynamics are in a class apart from the common run of lardy SUVs. It may be very far from being a quick car but you can chuck its composed body and chassis into corners with near GTI levels of confidence.

I am with my wife: I’d be happy to keep this car for life.

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Review Škoda Yeti Outdoor SE


Price £21,915 with extra options fitted, price as tested: £25,355

Engine: 2.0 TDi Diesel
Power: 140PS

Transmission: Manual, 4×4
0-62mph: 9.9 seconds
Top speed: 118 mph
Fuel economy: combined 48.7 mpg
CO2 emissions: 152 g/km

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About the Author
Neil Lyndon

Neil Lyndon

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Neil Lyndon has been a journalist, broadcaster and writer on the UK's national stage for 40 years, writing for every "quality" newspaper on Fleet Street. He started writing about cars and motorbikes for The Sunday Times in the 1980s and was Motoring Correspondent of the Sunday Telegraph for 20 years, having previously written a column on motorbikes for Esquire. He is also recognised as a leading commentator on gender politics, having published No More Sex War in 1992 - the first ever critique of feminism from a radical, egalitarian point of view.

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