Skoda Yeti 2014 review

Skoda Yeti 2014 front tracking
7 Nov, 2013 5:00pm Paul Bond

We drive the new Skoda Yeti range both on and off-road and give our verdict on the facelifted crossover


Mild cosmetic tweaks are not enough to transform the Yeti into a mild-mannered town car but it remains a very appealing package. The 1.2 TSI is great to drive, and the 4x4 models offer superb grip and off-road talent, but high C02 emissions, a firm ride and lack of refinement on the TDI versions are tell tale signs of its advancing age, and a small price rise might see it struggle when faced with competition from the latest hi-tech crossovers.

Skoda broke the mould with the Yeti and over the last four years this loveable crossover has attracted countless new buyers to the Czech brand. Now though its been given its first major facelift.

The current Yeti won our coveted Car of the Year back in 2010, and is a consistently high performer in our Driver Power satisfaction survey, so the pressure is on for Skoda to deliver with this reboot.

Skoda Yeti in-depth review

The biggest change comes in the form of a new split personality to reflect the wide range of demands made by crossover buyers. For those who want a high-riding town car, the standard Yeti now comes with body-coloured bumpers and sills designed to help it blend in to the urban environment, and is only available in front-wheel drive, equipped with the more modestly powered engines in the range.

However customers looking for something a little more rugged can opt for the Yeti Outdoor, which is priced to match the standard car, but features black plastic cladding to protect the underside of the body , a silver effect grille, rear bumper and matching wing mirrors too. All four-wheel drive versions get these rugged styling upgrades, including the potent 168bhp diesel and 158bhp 1.8-litre TSI petrol models. Whichever one you choose, the angular new headlights, square foglights and single frame grille all move the tonka-toy looks closer to the rest of the range.

These minor changes mean the Yeti looks more grown-up than before but underneath Skoda has stuck to its winning formula, and mechanical changes are limited. On the standard car the 1.4 TSI has been dropped from the range so we drove the 109bhp 2.0-litre diesel and 104bhp 1.2 TSI petrol. Despite being familiar, there’s a major contrast between these two engines on-road behaviour.

The diesel sounds coarse and gruff on start-up and when you’re accelerating, and a fairly narrow powerband means the five-speed manual gearbox needs constant attention to keep things on song. Once into its stride the 250Nm of torque available provides plenty of urge, and it feels punchier in-gear than the smaller diesels in rivals like the Peugeot 2008.

Even so, the little petrol is by far the better performer of the two. Despite boasting less power and torque it revs more eagerly, and is significantly more refined, even cruising at motorway speeds. It retains the planted, sturdy feel of the 4x4 models, but rides better and turns into corners quicker thanks to its lighter kerbweight.

The six-speed gearbox also adds an extra layer of refinement that none of the TDI versions offer. If you are looking for a crossover to drive mainly in town then this is definitely the one to go for, even if compact rivals like the Renault Captur and Vauxhall Mokka are both more efficient and cheaper to run thanks to lower C02 figures.

Two things ensure the Yeti keeps standing out in the now crowded crossover market. The Varioflex seats - which slide and tumble or completely removed - give it a van-like carrying capacity and excellent versatility, and the 4x4 models still offer the kind of off-roading ability that would embarrass an SUV twice this size.

For the facelift, Skoda has fitted a new Haldex V system that is now lighter and uses an electric motor to engage the clutch that drives the rear wheels. It’s lighter and cleaner than before, and means the flagship 168bhp TDI dips to 149g/km of C02 and falls one tax bracket as a result.

Combine this engine’s power with a fool-proof ‘off-road’ button and electronic differential lock and the Yeti was able to power its way through a demanding off-road course with total ease - and the extra grip the 4x4 offers on the road makes the Yeti a true family car for all seasons.

Even so, apart from a soft new leather steering wheel and some fresh seat fabrics, not much has changed inside, and niggles like the firm suspension, wind and road noise and average economy figures mean it does now feel a bit old-fashioned when compared to the newest cars on the market.

Top-spec Elegance models now benefit from smart bi-xenon headlamps with LED daytime running lights while new gadgets making their first appearance on the options list include keyless entry and start, a reversing camera for tricky parking spaces and a new automatic parking system with improved software.

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Hmmm. For me, it's gone from quirkily good-looking to a bit anonymous. This could slot into the Vauxhall or Peugeot range unnoticed, and for Skoda that seems a shame. However, if it helps bring down used prices on the pre-facelift, all good I suppose.

Liked the look of the original and was even considering buying a new one but this facelift doesn't do it any favours so my money will be spent elsewhere.

I prefer it to the previous shape, much fresher. Times change, live with it.

Cleaner and tidier, but has lost its freshness. A shame the frogeye foglights have gone.

You are right of course. However, as well as the "Friends of the Nissan Juke" there are those out there who actively like "bland", confusing it with "good taste". Skoda seems to be concentrating on these individuals now, apart from various somewhat aberrant special editions like the Fabia Monte Carlo. Rather a pity I think.

Agreed. The four main VAG marques now look pretty similar. Should we demand that cars look quirky and individual? I dunno. I guess most car buyers want something sensible and unobtrusive.

Quirky, not necessarily. Individuality and inspiration, absolutely certainly.
I gather the individual now responsible for Skoda styling was the stylist of the Bugatti Veyron. That explains why such an engineering tour de force is so uninspiring to look at. Give the same man a meat and two veg. marque to style and the result is predictable.
Continuing the culinary analoge, a really great cook will tell people what they should be eating, not continue to feed them tapioca pudding because they know no different

We run a 2010 era 110 TDI and it's great. Shame no 6-spd but in the big picture it works, and feel indestructible. Not interested in the facelift, looks dull and boring, and a marketing driven car. The original rocks!

Still a great car, and nice to drive. Whatever the usual ant-vw group people say about bland/dull blah blah etc, sales are smashing all records, Skoda was 10th best selling marque in the UK last month, and that's all that matters at the end of the day. If a car is selling well, it's good business.Obviously people prefer the VW groups supposed 'blandness', seeing as Audi and VW were inside the top ten too.

There are a lot of scared, bland people around. Life is really too short to be wasted driving dull motorcars. However what you say about sales figures is, I fear, only too true.
The real pity about the Yeti is that it did not start off bland but it is becoming so. (I am only referring to appearance of course)

I agree. I wonder if some VW top brass put pressure on Skoda to make the Yeti less distinctive.....

Judging by most owners comments they like their Yeti, it is a bit too van like for me.
I have owned a Vauxhall Mokka for six months now and I absolutely love it. More of a modern looking shape without sacrificing interior space. It is my first brand -new Vauxhall and the quality is excellent, the Mokka must be selling well as there is around a six month wait for a factory order.

Blistering and paint chipping along all the doors, still an issue Skoda have chosen not to address in 4 years buyers BEWARE.

Key specs

  • Price: £19,450
  • Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl turbodiesel
  • Power/torque: 109bhp/250Nm
  • Transmission: Five-speed manual, front-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph: 11.6 seconds
  • Top speed: 110mph
  • Economy/CO2: 55.3/134g/km
  • Equipment: 17-inch alloys, dual-zone air-con, rear parking sensors, cruise control, luggage nets