Nobody has been able to escape the excitement around Skoda of late. The new Kodiaq looks like it ticks all the boxes, and introduces a completely new SUV to the UK market that is set to be a contender for the class leader. Merging Yeti practicality and Superb quality, it’s an exciting prospect. The Octavia is also set to get an upgrade – it’s a promising time to be a Skoda fan.
However, we all know that the Yeti itself has been around for a while, and has won hearts from all corners of the car buying public. The 2016 version, with added ‘Outdoor’ edition, looks to take a mountain-goat approach to the line-up – with a sturdy, versatile and practical approach that includes front skid plates and a well built interior that feels like it will take most of what any adventure-loving family will throw at it.
Engines & Driving
The test car I drove was the Outdoor SE L edition, with the predictably excellent, reliable and gutsy 2.0 TDI SCR engine, producing 150PS and without doubt having enough clout for all the work most Yetis are going to do.
For a practical and unashamedly boxy car, the Yeti is excellent to drive. The steering is light, but with just enough feel to know exactly where the wheels are. The driving position is also excellent, with enough height adjustment to feel like you’re driving something that lives up to its practical and no-nonsense looks. Body control is especially good and for a big car and it never feels wallowy or too vague. Like the Fabia and Octavia 4×4, it does have a relatively firm ride, but for many reasons it’s more expected on a car like this and it doesn’t feel too uncomfortable. The added 4×4, when combined with its confidence on the road, means that you’d never doubt its ability off-road either and it’ll be able to deal with some pretty impressive terrain if needs be.
Skoda has an uncanny ability to tick all the boxes, and compromise on so little that a good driving experience was expected when I had the Yeti delivered. It didn’t disappoint me at all.
Which one should you buy?
The pick of the bunch of engines would be the 2.0 diesel, managing to balance sheer capability, economy and practicality with more than enough pulling power. It’s a little noisy if pushed, but I think preferable to either the 1.2 or 1.8 petrol. The former is a great engine, again balancing economy and turbocharged power, but the latter does seem a little stuck in the middle when you think you can get more value for money with both diesel and petrol variants at either end of the spectrum. S, SE, SE L and the range topping Laurin + Klement versions are available, with the SE version twinned with the diesel engine being probably the best bet as it comes with parking sensors, electric rear windows, rear parking sensors and the like. The Greenline 1.6 diesel offers the best outright running costs and economy.
Can it go off-road?
To be honest, the short answer is yes. As well as looking good, the extra skid plates protecting all the gubbins at the front give you some added confidence, and the gutsy engine and firm, confident ride quality lead you to believe that there’s a lot more ‘outdoors’ in this car than most users will need it for. The Yeti Outdoors doesn’t change a huge amount mechanically, but with the inherent practicality of the car, excellent interior space and impressive headroom, it feels like 4×4 adventures are entirely possible.
The Skoda Yeti is a well loved family car, and it shows in this revised incarnation with genuine outdoor ability. Although there’s little to differentiate this car from the existing, ‘regular’ Skoda Yeti, that is in no way a bad thing, as the original car has bags of practicality, a comfortable interior and a true ability to deal with anything an adventurous family can throw at it. Its versatility means it feels like it’s up for anything – over the course of spending a week with it we did countless trips around Bristol whilst moving house, with all manner of belongings and furniture in the back – and it didn’t miss a beat. We even managed to fit a sofa in the back and tied the boot down. This is the kind of car the Yeti is. It feels like it enjoys being the jack of all trades and with some added 4×4 capability, you’ve really got a very charming, sturdy, utilitarian car that both on paper and in the real world is very appealing and thoroughly enjoyable to drive.