Car Review By MURRAY HUBBARD
|Skoda has again hit the mark with its latest offering, the enticingly named Yeti. It’s a compact five-seat SUV with car-like handling and some off-road ability with the AWD variant. Yeti benefits from hand-me-down petrol (FWD only ) and diesel engines from parent company Volkswagen as well as six and seven speed automatic DSG transmissions. That’s a big plus.
Yeti is the fifth offering from Skoda that is building a stable of vehicles for the Australian market - vehicles that are copping heaps of praise for value, design and engineering. Yeti continues this and opens up Skoda to a whole new buyer in the competitive compact SUV segment up against the likes of Holden Captiva, Honda CR-V, Hyundai ix35, Kia Sportage, Mitsubishi ASX, Outlander, Nissan Dualis, Renault Koleos, Subaru Forester, Toyota RAV4 and VW Tiguan.
We have noted the major players to highlight one fact: This segment is booming and any player with intentions to cover most bases must have a compact SUV in the Aussie stable. Skoda have kept the Yeti fairly simple: FWD and AWD, one petrol and one diesel engine, three transmissions - a six speed manual for both petrol and diesel, seven speed DSG for the petrol engine and six speed DSG for the diesel. Petrol variants are front wheel drive only. Our test Skoda Yeti was the top of the line Yeti 103TDI at $37,990. Yeti starts at $26,290 for the 1.2 litre 77TSI petrol six speed manual. This is the same engine as found in the highly acclaimed Volkswagen 77TSI Polo.
Skoda maintained the chrome-framed grille and V-shaped bonnet familiar on other Skoda models. To us it softens the appearance of a vehicle that perhaps should look a little rugged. Yeti - like it’s namesake - is not a exactly pretty object, so you would most likely not buy it on looks alone. It’s profile is interesting with black A and C pillars making the vehicle look longer than it actually is. This is deceptive because Skoda have packed a lot into the Yeti and it’s an ideal city runabout. At 4.223 mm long it is easy to park, yet has plenty of luggage space for the weekly shopping. This brings it into the realm of being a practical second family-car.
The 103TDI turbo diesel engine used in Yeti will be familiar to VW owners in Jetta, Golf, Tiguan and Eos. It’s a lively powerplant with plenty of stick off the mark, as well as in the passing range of 80 km/h to 110 km/h. Yeti has been developed from the same platform as the Skoda Octavia Scout - with shorter overhangs. This engine belts out 320 Nm of torque between 1750 - 2500 rpm and being linked to a six speed DSG auto is never found wanting. The DSG gear changes are like lightning and it’s quite remarkable to see the tachometer drop revs so suddenly as it does its thing - very well. This transmission - that early on had problems in stop/start traffic - has improved greatly and is a pleasure to drive in all conditions. Volkswagen claim a fuel consumption of 6.7 litres/100 km from the 2.0 litre turbo diesel linked to the DSG. In our week in the Yeti we managed 6.5 litres/100 km which would bring a smile to the face of most motorists.
Yeti is well endowed with safety gear, active and passive. Stability control plus an impressive suite of electronic systems including ABS brakes, EBD, ASR and hill hold control - handy in the manual variants. An option that was included in our test 103TDI was an advanced off road technology package that includes hill start assist, hill descent assist and off-road modes for ABS,ASR and EDL. Passive safety includes seven airbags including driver’s knee airbag.
The safety story does not end there with Yeti having a ‘see and be seen’ rule for lights designed with safety in mind. These include height adjustable halogen headlights, third rear brake light and integrated indicators in door mirror housings. The doors all have reflectors showing when open.
Yeti’s interior is littered with handy and well-placed storage spaces for cups and bottles as well a spot for the iPod or mobile telephone, and a useful hidden drawer under the front passenger seat. The dash layout is simple and functional and the steering wheel houses remote audio controls. With the driver’s seat having height adjustment and the steering wheel with reach and height a comfortable driving position is at hand for just about any build of driver. The seats are comfortable and made of long lasting material.
Yeti gets interesting in the back pews. There are three seats that can act independent of each other which leads to 20 combinations to suit just about any circumstances that may arise. Rear seat leg room is good as long as the front seats are not all the way back. If they area leg room is an issue, particularly for the bunny in the middle. Skoda call the seating system a Varioflex system and it certainly provides more options than the standard 60/40 split most vehicles have. Head and shoulder room are good which is surprising given the rear pews are raised for better visibility for the passengers. When the middle seat is not in use it can be lowered and provide a table with two cup holders for passengers either side.
The boot capacity is 310 - 415 litres depend on the rear seats’ position and with all three seats removed cargo area is boosted to 1665 litres. The Yeti carries a space saver spare speed limited to 80 km/h which sites under a floor that looks like an after thought. Around the spare wheel Skoda Yeti has a series of handy storage bins in moulded foam.
The marriage of Yeti to the 103TDI is one made in heaven. The engine is ideally suited to Yeti with its low rev torque. Linked with the six speed DSG Yeti is quick off the mark and excels between 80 - 110 km/h for passing for a compact SUV. Yeti is a true crossover vehicle with superb road handling. It points nicely and handles long sweeping corners and tight bends in a car-like manner with little body roll and insignificant understeer.
We took the Yeti offroad to test Skoda’s claim that Yeti is `incredibly capable off-road.’ There’s no doubt the vehicle is capable off road, but unfortunately the 180 cm clearance is not enough to stop regular underbody thumps on `rough terrain’ - Skoda’s words not ours - and while Yeti will cover some rough ground, we don’t know that this is really the best use for the vehicle in the longer term. We see Yeti more of a gravel road cruiser than a rock-hopper or traversing washed-out bush tracks.
In normal dry road use Yeti is 96 per cent in front wheel drive but when slippage is detected up to 90 per cent of torque is directed to the rear wheels. This system works well and quickly via the fourth generation Haldex clutch. Despite the under body knocks the Yeti handled the terrain well and the DSG allowed the vehicle to crawl over deep and difficult washouts. We doubt the six speed manual would be so accommodating in similar terrain.
MODEL RANGE AND PRICING*
Yeti 77TSI six speed manual FWD $26,290
Yeti 77TSI seven speed DSG FWD $28,590
Yeti 103TDI six speed manual AWD $35,690
Yeti 103TDI six speed DSG AWD $37,990
(*Pricing does not include government or dealer charges)
ABS Brakes: standard
Automatic Transmission: six speed DSG
Cruise Control: standard
Dual Front Airbags: standard
Front Side Airbags: standard
Electronic Stability Program: standard
Rear Parking sensors: N/A
Reversing Camera: N/A
USB/Auxiliary Audio inputs: MP3
Steering wheel mounted controls: standard
SPECIFICATIONS ( Yeti 103TDI AWD)
Capacity: 1.968 litres
Configuration: in line four
Compression Ratio: 16.5:1
Bore/Stroke: 81.0 mm x 95.5 mm
Maximum Power:103 kW @ 4200 rpm
Maximum Torque: 320 Nm @ 1750 - 2500 rpm
Driven Wheels: AWD
Manual Transmission: six speed
Automatic Transmission: six speed DSG
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4223 mm
Wheelbase: 2578 mm
Width: 1793 mm
Height: 1691 mm
Turning Circle: 10.3 metres
Kerb Mass: 1570 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 60 litres
Towing Ability: 2000 kg (kg with braked trailer)
SUSPENSION AND BRAKES:
Front Suspension: MacPherson struts with torsion stabiliser
Rear Suspension: Multi link with torsion stabiliser
Front Brakes: Ventilated disc
Rear Brakes: Discs
0-100 km/h Acceleration: 10.2 seconds
Combined Cycle (ADR 81/01): 6.7 L/100km
GREEN VEHICLE GUIDE RATINGS:
Greenhouse Rating: 7/10
Air Pollution Rating: 6/10
3 years/ unlimited km