Long-term tests

Skoda Yeti

Crossover comes head-to-head with firm’s first-ever car

  • In keeping with its rugged off-roader image, the Yeti’s optional built-in sat-nav incorporates a large compass feature – so you can’t get lost if you head off the beaten track. This is on top of its superb 3D street mapping. If only the excellent full-colour set-up wasn’t so expensive; it costs £1,435.
  • LEATHER seat trim comes as standard as part of the Skoda’s generous kit tally, and buyers can pick between Onyx Black or our car’s Gobi Sand finish. If you plan to use your Yeti as family transport, we’d suggest you steer clear of the latter, as it quickly shows up dirt and grime.

I’ve always enjoyed watching the BBC TV series Who Do You Think You Are?, where celebrities delve into their family histories and unearth secrets. Afterwards, I’m often tempted to research the Gibson family tree. However, I didn’t expect to be turning genealogist with our Yeti. But a recent trip to Skoda’s UK HQ meant our Car of the Year 2010 came face-to-face with one of its elderly ancestors.

Parked in a quiet corner of reception was an example of the four-door 422 – the first model to wear the Skoda badge. It debuted in 1930, but on the surface, there is no family resemblance to our cutting-edge crossover. Under the bonnet, both cars have a 1.2-litre engine, although the 422’s weedy 22bhp unit is no match for the 105bhp turbo powering the Yeti.

The old-timer attracts a lot of attention with its distinctive yellow and black paintwork. The Yeti is no shrinking violet, either, and I’m often bombarded with questions about it from curious passers-by. Sadly, I wasn’t able to get behind the wheel of the 422, but I doubt it could match the modern Skoda’s driver appeal.

The long trip to Anglesey, North Wales, for our recent Performance Car of the Year shoot-out pushed the Yeti over 12,000 miles, and the smooth engine now feels keener than ever. It’s not as torquey as a big diesel, but the slick six-speed box makes keeping up with fast-flowing traffic a breeze.

Strong grip and tight body control mean the Yeti feels stable and secure in corners, while the commanding driving position makes the car easy to place on the road. Better still, the comfortable ride irons out all but the worst bumps and potholes. I drive all sorts of exotic models in the course of my work, but I never feel disappointed to climb back into the Skoda at the end of the day.

It’s not all good news, though. The cream leather seat trim isn’t ideal for a hard-working family car – between them, my two young daughters have left a number of grubby stains. With a bit of elbow grease, the marks can be removed, but a darker colour would be more practical.

I’ve also noticed the plastic trim in the boot has been scratched by the boxes holding my camera kit. A few pieces of gaffer tape should prevent any further damage.

Overall, though, the build quality has impressed. Like its ageing relative, I wouldn’t be surprised if this Skoda is still going strong in 80 years’ time!

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