By Tim Barnes-Clay, Motoring Journalist
This car is no looker. But beauty really is in the eye of the beholder when it comes to motors.
The amount of people who told me I had a nice looking car was quite surprising. To me, the Škoda Yeti resembles the Popemobile.
But the aesthetics of this vehicle aren’t important, as I found out when I slid behind the wheel.
The seats are very supportive and the steering wheel is nice and chunky to hold. That, as well as the perfectly positioned gearstick with its fluid five-speed action, makes you feel satisfied and totally in command. The dash design is uncomplicated too, while soft-touch plastics and climate control add a measure of refinement.
You get the sense that build quality on the Yeti is flawless – and the top of the range ‘Elegance’ trim, with heated leather upholstery, underscores this impression. Cabin space is respectable enough for four-up, and although the boot isn’t the biggest, it has lots of helpful load securing rails and shopping bag hooks. The rear seats will fold forward to increase capacity, but, cleverly, they can also be taken out so, in effect, you have a small van.
My test car was the Škoda Yeti GreenLine II – in aforementioned flagship guise. It’s not a 4×4 as some of the models are set up to be, but it still has all-wheel-drive styling. Under the bonnet, the 1.6-litre diesel engine is a little coarse, but it can deliver over 60mpg and its emissions are low at 119g/km.
On the road, the Škoda Yeti is as nimble as a mountain goat. It bonds to the road and seems to accelerate far quicker than its 0-62mph paper time of 12.1 seconds suggests. It’s solid, stocky and only ever feels out of puff when the big bullies of the motorway sit up your backside. With only 103bhp and a top speed of 109mph it’s not meant to compete with the German goliaths, so having a BMW or a Mercedes glued to your rear bumper can make you feel a little inadequate. Still, the Yeti is what it is – and twisty B roads are where it shines.
The ‘green’ version of the Yeti has a fuel-saving stop-start system fitted, but the car’s eco-optimised focal point also means it has a 20mm lower ride height than standard models. This equates to a firm journey, especially around town. Nevertheless, it explains why the Yeti’s so entertaining on the back roads. Its stiffer, lower, set-up means body control is excellent; therefore it handles corners brilliantly. The steering is well weighted and direct too.
So, if you’re after an economical, good to drive family car, then the Yeti might well work for you. It certainly ticks all the right boxes and Škoda has many trophies in its cabinet to prove it. Only this month (November) the Škoda Yeti 1.6 GreenLine II won silver at the 2013 Green Apple Awards. Since the accolade to promote environmental endeavour was launched by the Midland Group of Motoring Writers, the Yeti has won every year – Gold in 2011, Silver in 2012 and again in 2013.
The facelifted Yeti arrives in showrooms in January 2014, and this will no doubt further reinforce its well-regarded position as one of the most sought-after vehicles in its class.
PROS ‘N’ CONS
Driving position √
Max speed: 109 mph
0-62 mph: 12.1 secs
Combined mpg: 61.4
Engine: 1598cc 4 cylinder 16 valve turbo-diesel
Max. power (bhp): 103 at 4,400 rpm
Max. torque (lb/ft): 184 at 1,500-2,500 rpm
CO2: 119 g/km