So I’m as surprised as many that Skoda has decided to abandon the Yeti name and instead call its compact SUV, the Karoq. More on that later.
The Yeti has been a quiet success for Skoda – since launching in 2009, its sales continued to grow each year until 2016. It might not be on the scale of the ubiquitous Nissan Qashqai, but it’s held its own in a fast-expanding segment.
It’s always been a bit of a Marmite car stylistically. Refreshing that it isn’t generic like every other rival, but not appealing enough to be bought by the masses.
But what’s charming about the Yeti is how quietly capable it is, with genuine off-road ability when necessary. In a Yeti convoy in Bhutan, there was not a single drama on the most rickety roads I’m yet to encounter.
And on a recent Thames-side stroll, I saw a Yeti confidently reversing over an urban beach to drop off a small boat in the water, having towed it from somewhere or the other.
And so why has Skoda abandoned the Yeti name? Despite its loyal fans, I imagine the car maker wants to sell its replacement in droves. It won’t want to alienate existing buyers but, much more importantly, it will want to attract a whole new set of customers.
By calling it Karoq, it also shows a lineage with the larger Kodiaq, both of which are named from Kodiaq Island in Alaska. Apparently, Karoq is a combination of ‘kaa’raq’ (car) and ‘ruq’ (arrow) in the language of Alaska’s indigenous people.
Since it’s clearly going down the trend of names beginning with ‘K’, it’s not rocket science to expect its future Nissan Juke rival to start with a K too. Indeed, Skoda has said it is now a “consistent nomenclature for all current and future Skoda SUV models”.
Looking at the Karoq mule we’ve spotted, the former Yeti SUV hasn’t just adopted a similar name to the Kodiaq. It also heavily reflects it design, making the Karoq more mainstream – and safer stylistically – than ever before.
So, we say goodbye to the faithful Yeti. My hope is that the Karoq can retain some of the individual charm of the Yeti while contributing to Skoda’s continued success in making well-engineered and excellent-value cars.