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Mid-life revisions don't harm the appeal of the entertaining Skoda Yeti, but they equally do little to improve it

Our Verdict

The Skoda Yeti crossover is a member of the fastest-growing niche of vehicles

10 November 2013

What is it?: 

The Skoda Yeti. With just enough cosmetic alterations to justify a second look before the manufacturer turns its attention to a replacement.

The biggest twist is a split in the range; the straight-up Yeti (almost exactly the same as before, and now called the 'City') is joined by one dubbed the ‘Outdoor’, which gets a more rugged look courtesy of black, slightly rehashed bumpers and side skirts. 

For devotees, the gentlest of facelifts adjusts the fog light position, moves the Skoda badge and adds an LED strip of daytime illumination to the front headlights.

Technological changes are even thinner on the ground; the engine line-up is a carry over with the 1.2-litre TSI, 1.8-litre TSI, 1.6-litre TDI (in fuel-sipping Greenline format only) and 2.0-litre TDI arriving in the UK. The latter is split into 108bhp, 138bhp and 168bhp variants, with the likely best-selling middleweight tested here, in 4x4 guise.

Despite the drag on efficiency, the all-wheel-drive Yetis remain highly popular, and are given a modest boost here with the introduction of Haldex’s fifth-generation clutch system, which replaces the hydraulic reservoir with an electric pump - speeding up response times and lowering component weight. A bit. 

There’s also a rough road package (added underfloor protection) and an off-road button inside if you buy from sufficiently high up in the S, SE, Elegance, Laurin & Klement trim range. The switch retunes the traction, ABS and stability control for slippery ground. 

What's it like?: 

Given that nothing of any great significance has changed, to drive the Skoda Yeti is much like it was before. Which is to say rather good.

In a segment which actively seeks to promote the nimbleness and convenience of a hatchback-style dynamic, Skoda’s crossover is one of the few that actually manages to convey it convincingly. Despite its moderate high-sidedness, there’s very little discernible body roll, plenty of grip and a compact footprint to help along a bushy-tailed sense of agility. 

As a result it hardly flinches at a more aggressive approach to the school run - aided better by the 2.0-litre TDI than the surprisingly breathless 1.2-litre TSI - and despite tending towards a firmer stance, is damped efficiently enough to not seem brittle. As it does elsewhere, the standard VW Group stability-first chassis tune allows caution to be thrown to the wind, and doesn’t often bother to call the Haldex into action on the road. 

Off it, the Yeti cuts a decent enough dash, too. No amount of button pushing will adjust the ride height, so its capabilities are always going to be stuck in short-trousers, but the updated clutch gets on top of a loss of traction almost as soon as you’ve registered it - making muddy ruts and slippery ascents a predictable non-issue. The base line ability of the Haldex makes Skoda’s off-road button largely redundant, although the hill descent (as always) takes the potential effort out of declines. 

The real pitfalls, such as they are, are not the fault of this gentle facelift; rather it’s the half-decade-old design that’s beginning to creak a bit. While the simple interior is timeless enough for example, the processor responsible for the infotainment system occasionally seems immune from the passage of time at all, so creakingly slow are its computations.

Around it, the cabin has been made to shrink by the introduction of so many bigger, broader rivals - put two men in the front and their elbows will touch; forget getting three in the rear altogether.

Should I buy one?: 

Unsurprisingly, Skoda’s perfunctory airbrushing of the Yeti’s less significant features has scant affect on our overall opinion of it. From the driver’s seat, there’s much to recommend, it being daintier and a mite more potent than some of the other sad sacks that have since launched in the segment. 

Nevertheless, it does not command a view of the class. The car tested, the one you’d want albeit in pricey Elegance spec, is £23,850. For very similar money you could have a mid-range, much bigger, better looking and equally well equipped all-wheel-drive Kia Sportage or Hyundai ix35.

It says something of the journey of the Skoda brand that its hard-won reputation will help it hold on to customers and downscalers, but family buyers have been given no new reason not to buy Korean. 

Skoda Yeti Outdoor 2.0 TDI CR 4X4 Elegance

Price £23,850; 0-62mph 9.9 sec; Top speed 118mph; Economy 50.4mpg (combined); CO2 149g/km; Engine 4-cyl, 1968cc, turbodiesel; Power 138bhp at 4200rpm; Torque 236lb ft at 1750-2500rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual

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Comments
9

11 November 2013
'Nevertheless, it does not command a view of the class.' What does this mean? I assume its along the lines of its not the class leader buts its rather obtuse?

12 November 2013
The front looks like it has been styled with a ruler and someone with too much time on their hands, a step backwards imo. Just hope it looks better in reality than in the photo.

12 November 2013
and in one fell swoop of the set square, a large section of the Yeti's character was folded away. Did somebody in Wolfsbueg decide SKoda was showing a bit too much individuality? As for moving the foglights closer to the road and into harm's way - really? In an off road car? So a Gentle Facelift? Sorry Nic but no...

12 November 2013
"Hello" fussy front end..! Also, beige seats and interior in an 'Outdoor' trim? Both silly ideas.


12 November 2013
“No amount of button pushing will adjust the ride height, so its capabilities are always going to be stuck in short-trousers” Can anyone tell me: is ground clearance a key indicator of off-road ability in itself, or only insofar as it affects approach angle, departure angle and ramp breakover angle? Because the Subaru XV, for example, has 22 cm of ground clearance against the Yeti 4x4’s 18 cm, but the Yeti has a marginally better approach angle (19° v 18°) and a similar ramp breakover angle (19.4° against 20.2°).

12 November 2013
As Squonk61 says, it has now lost its character, which is a great shame. After years of driving BMWs, I bought a 2 litre 4x4 Elegance last year and think that it's first-class in every area. The current model is instantly recognisable from its DRLs but the new one looks very dull by comparison. I'll be surprised if sales continue at the present level. Hopefully Skoda will realise that people like individuality and make its next replacement more exciting.

12 November 2013
I think Skoda know exactly what they are doing. This car has become the darling of the 'index linked pension' Grey Pounders. They can afford it, like small manageable dimensions and it plays to their fears of getting stuck in poor weather. Boot is just big enough for a couple of days shop from Waitrose or a floppy Spaniel to the park. It looks chunky enough that the Grandchildren will be safe and easy to get them in and out. The changes are just to keep it appearing to be current, which it still is.

12 November 2013
Every new or revamped vehicle in the Skoda range becomes more and more beige in character; the actual paint schemes in some of the special editions notwithstanding. This must be a unique motor manufacturer in seeking actively to reduce the character of its products. A sort of automotive expression of "what will the neighbours think"! This is a particular pity in the case of the Yeti which had considerable character, now much reduced.

12 November 2013
....looking than the mark one. That front end is very stylish, getting rid of those big round "bug-eye" lights has tidied it up very nicely. I really like the cream leather interior as well, it certainly raises the quality feel of the car. (I wouldn't mind about it being a beige interior - after all, how many people are really going to do any serious off roading in it?). I am looking at cars to replace my current Passat.fairly soon and this would suit my, and my family's needs very nicely (especially with the excellively snowy winters we have had in the past 3 years!).

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