However vague the off-road credentials of a new soft roader might be, manufacturers love to give us a chance to drive them in the wilderness. It doesn't matter that 999 out of every 1000 that get sold will never have to deal with anything more strenous than leaving a slightly damp grass carpark –  claims for real prowess in the wilderness are still reckoned to matter to punters, and make for more impressive pictures.

Of course, there's a very real risk attached to this strategy: the fact that some modern SUVs are almost comically inept when asked to deal with anything sticky. I once managed to get a Ford Maverick mired in what was little more than a muddy puddle. Other manufacturers have built elaborate pretend off-road courses to a trigarnomic precision intended to flatter their models' indifferent ground clearance and approach angles.

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Which is why I reckon Skoda deserves some credit for having organised the toughest off-road challenge I've encountered this side of a Land Rover launch. The new Yeti might not be the toughest-looking appliance, and the company admits that 80 per cent of the ones sold in Britain are likely to be two-wheel drive. But a four-wheel driven one in standard spec apart from winter tyres managed to conquer  some of the nastiest terrain that Scotland had to offer. That included a scramble up a steep, rutted track that would have stopped almost all of its rivals, some nasty axle-twisting ruts and even a chance to take one wading through Loch Ness. An experience made more interesting by the waves being lashed up by gale force winds and breaking over the bonnet.

Okay, so the Defender is unlikely to be worried. The Yeti lacks locking diffs or low range gears, and ground clearance is still on the crunky side. But in the unlikely event that it matters, I can confirm that it's actually surprisingly handy off-road.

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