Skoda Yeti 1.2 TSI

We drive Czech firm's first ever off-roader - and deliver our verdict

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

Even though it’s Skoda’s first attempt at a 4x4, the Yeti leaves you thinking the firm has been building cars in this class for decades! The off-roader image isn’t up everyone’s street, but thanks to the option of a front-wheel-drive-only model, the new car is as happy around town as it is mixing it with Land Rovers on muddy tracks. Build and refinement are top of the class, and with Skoda’s aggressive pricing, the Yeti is sure to win over families looking for something a little out of the ordinary.

It’s the car that can take the rough with the smooth! The Yeti is Skoda’s first off-roader, and regular readers will remember that Auto Express drove a pre-production variant back in Issue 1,062. Now, we’ve got behind the wheel of the model you can buy.

The Yeti is much more than another run-of-the-mill mud-plugger. Blending the strength of a 4x4 with the practicality of a family hatchback, it joins the Nissan Qashqai in the sparsely populated crossover sector.

Video: watch CarBuyer's video review of the Skoda Yeti

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Jacked-up suspension, big wheelarches and protective scuff plates front and rear finish off a robust design. At 4.2 metres, the Yeti is virtually the same length as the Roomster MPV. It’s roomy inside, while the Varioflex rear seats tilt back and forwards, fold down or can be removed to free up a van-like 1,760-litre load area. As with all Skoda products, quality is top-notch.

It’s a sign of the times that the Yeti comes with Skoda’s first all-turbocharged engine range. The lower-powered 105bhp 1.2 TSI petrol and 110bhp 2.0 TDI diesel units are fitted with front-wheel drive and will account for most sales. We drove the former, and the engine revved sweetly due to its light weight and low inertia. The fantastic twin-clutch DSG gearbox made it feel sporty, too.

Also available is a 160bhp 1.8 TSI and the same 2.0 TDI with 140bhp or 170bhp, mated to an advanced 4x4 system. In normal driving conditions, 96 per cent of the torque is sent to the front wheels, but up to 90 per cent can be delivered to the rear if it’s needed.

That means the Yeti is surprisingly capable over rough terrain. Hill descent deals with steep slopes by applying the brakes to maintain a constant speed and keep the wheels turning. All the driver has to do is steer.

On the move, the wide track ensures the Yeti feels extremely sure-footed, while extra travel in the suspension provides a beautifully supple ride. Weighty steering and a positive gearshift complete yet another polished and refreshingly different Skoda.

Rival: Nissan Qashqai The Sunderland-built Nissan can’t match the Skoda’s excellent off-road ability, but it does look the part. Plus, it drives well and has proved a huge hit with UK buyers.

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