After all the recent snowy weather, and predictions of a chilly February to come, off-roaders and all-wheel-drive cars have enjoyed the limelight. But what does that mean for soft-roaders like the Yeti?
This is the entry-level 1.2-litre TSI model, which has done away with the firm’s clever 4x4 system. Skoda predicts that 70 per cent of Yetis sold will be front-wheel-drive versions, such as this. And from behind the wheel it’s easy to see why. The 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol engine is smooth and lively, and the six-speed manual transmission is slick and refined.
Video: watch CarBuyer's video review of the Skoda Yeti
While the official 0-60mph sprint time of 11.8 seconds sounds sluggish, in practice the unit has plenty of go around town. The only time it feels underpowered is at motorway speeds, when the 105bhp engine struggles a little. The small-capacity powerplant is economical, though. Skoda claims 44.8mpg, plus 149g/km CO2 emissions.
On the outside, the Yeti manages to look rugged, but avoids the aggressive, muscular appearance of an SUV, thanks to its short bonnet and cheeky nose. And while the boxy shape won’t appeal to everyone, the optional 17-inch Spitzberg alloy wheels and jacked-up suspension add some style.
The elevated ride height also gives the driver a commanding position, and a good view of the road. But it can let the Yeti down in corners, where there is some body roll. The pay-off is a beautifully smooth ride, with even the biggest potholes translating into only the slightest of jolts in the cabin.
Our luxurious Elegance model is priced at £17,995 – that sounds expensive, but it does come packed full of kit. The seats, steering wheel and gearstick are clad in leather, while there are electric windows all-round and a dual-zone climate control system. The huge panoramic sunroof fitted to our Yeti gives the interior a light and airy feel but, at £850, it’s an expensive option.
Fit and finish inside are impressive, with a solidly built dashboard and a range of soft-touch materials lending a luxury feel to the interior.
The most impressive thing about the cabin is its practicality. The seats are roomy enough for five adults and there’s a 417-litre capacity boot. But that’s with the rear seats up. The Skoda’s party trick is its Varioflex seating, which allows the rears to be slid back and forth, folded over, reclined or removed completely. Go for the latter, and the Yeti’s boot space rockets to 1,760 litres – that’s more than a Range Rover with its seats folded flat.
In basic E trim, this 1.2-litre model starts at a hugely competitive £13,990. And even an entry-level variant gets all the features that make the Yeti such an impressive package: the Varioflex seating, solid build, agile handling and a high-revving engine. As a practical, fun and reliable family car, then this base variant is hard to beat. Admittedly, our model was expensive – but even if you do away with many of the luxuries, you’re still left with an excellent bargain all-rounder.
Rival: Nissan Qashqai
The Japanese firm’s popular crossover is at the top of the class, so the Yeti faces a tough battle. The Qashqai is the more handsome of the two, but the Skoda has the edge on price and sheer usability.
* Price: £17,995
* Engine: 1.2-litre 4cyl turbo
* Power/torque: 105bhp/175Nm
* Transmission: Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
* 0-62/top spd: 11.8 secs/109mph
* Econ/CO2: 44.1mpg/149g/km
* Equipment: Air-con, panoramic roof, multifunction steering wheel, rear parking sensors
* On sale: Now