It’s a glorious spring day in Norway - somewhere just north of Oslo - and I have the fascinating task of trying out two of the very last ‘validation’ prototypes before Skoda’s Yeti mini off-roader goes into full production in a few week’s time.
Golf-based, and a modest 4.2m long, the Yeti might just be one of those unexpected ‘landmark’ cars. After a couple of hours on the road it’s clear that the Yeti has a very fine chassis which balances ride comfort (first rate) with a lack of body roll. It’s an especially impressive combination when you think that the car has both a raised ride height and a raised driving position.
I’ve also just had a quick off-road run around a course built in a disused quarry. When equipped with the off-road kit (which includes hill descent control) the Yeti really can cut it in the rough stuff.
All of which makes me think this car could be bigger than Skoda’s own planners think (a view also held by some senior Skoda bosses). The Yeti is compact, well-made, good quality inside, has excellent head and leg room and - with the Haldex 4 all-wheel drive - has enough off-road ability for 95 per cent of the population.
This is the kind of vehicle many people need and many will be able to afford. When you drive this, you realise that this is what an SUV should be rather than the oversized Range-Rover wanabees that most ‘compact’ SUVs end up being.
It’s not cheap - nothing Golf based will be - but £16k should get you a 4x4 diesel (these new engines are exceptionally refined) model with the kind of go-anywhere capabilities that will only be defeated by axle-deep mud.