The Skoda Yeti combines a compact yet spacious body with a perfectly acceptable driving experience, decent economy, and the option of four-wheel drive.
The whole point of the Yeti is that it’s a compact car, but as it’s essentially a big box, it has lots of space inside. It looks a bit SUV-like, and appropriately there’s a four-wheel drive version available, however most people will probably be happy just with front-wheel drive.
Our Yeti was a high-spec Monte Carlo with the most powerful 170PS 2.0 TDI engine, a 6-speed DSG transmission, and four-wheel drive. It may not be the lowest emission Yeti on offer, but we were impressed with the overall driving experience, performance and economy of the Skoda Octavia Scout earlier in the year, so we wanted to see if the Yeti could repeat this trick.
The Yeti is compact and boxy, this means it’s easy to park, but it still has a good amount of space inside – including in the passenger compartment and the large, square boot. It has Varioflex rear seating, which gives a number of options such as the ability for the outer rear seats to slide forwards and backwards as well as recline, and the ability to fold them up against the front seats, all of which results in 20 different seating combinations. You can even remove the rear seats from the car completely, but they’re heavy.
We think that the Yeti also looks good on the outside, and the interior is perfectly acceptable, being a lot less basic than Skodas from a few years ago, and in Monte Carlo spec, it’s well equipped.
The headline is that the Yeti is perfectly pleasant to drive overall. It carries out all of the major tasks – steering, handling, ride – very competently. It’s also generally refined and feels upmarket.
However there are a few areas for improvement. Although the steering wheel has reach adjustment, it doesn’t come out quite far enough for our liking. The wheel also doesn’t go particularly low – along with the seat. So you’re left with quite a high, upright driving position – which may be appropriate for the car, but this may not suit everyone.
Although the car is refined overall, the engine can often sound noisy under acceleration. And although the ride is generally good, it can feel somewhat harsh on poor surfaces – a result, no doubt, of the need to control body roll with relatively firm damping (which does result in better handling than such a car should deliver).
The DSG ‘box generally works well. ‘D’ keeps the revs low, and ‘S’ holds the car in higher revs before changing gear; somewhere in the middle might be better. But our main issue with the car was that it runs out of gears; it really feels as though it needs to change up to an extra gear at motorway speeds, as the revs seemed higher than they should have been at 70mph – not making for the most relaxed high speed cruising, and impacting on economy.
Having four-wheel drive means that this Yeti has much better grip than the front-wheel drive model. However our test car wasn’t fitted with tyres that could tackle any serious off-roading adventures so we avoided that challenge. We have driven a Yeti off-road previously and it was more capable than you might imagine.
The official economy of the Yeti 2.0 TDI 170PS 4×4 is 44.8mpg – with emissions of 164g/km CO2. This isn’t a great starting point, even for a 4×4. After a week our real-life average economy was 40.3mpg. This isn’t brilliant either, but it’s much closer to the official figure than most cars that we test.
The trouble with the Yeti is its shape; it’s not very aerodynamic, so it’s never going to cut through the air efficiently. The same issue impacts upon performance. As mentioned, it also feels like it needs an extra gear at motorway speeds to bring the revs down and improve economy.
However overall the Yeti does offer a reasonable performance/economy balance – for such a boxy-shaped car. And you can buy a Yeti with emissions as low as 118g/km CO2.
The Skoda Yeti 2.0 TDI 170PS 4×4 Monte Carlo costs £25,690. Our test car had the options of Amundsen sat nav (£755); heated windscreen (£300); heated front seats (£250); towbar prep (£205); temporary space saver steel wheel (£150); off-road button for 4×4 (£110) – taking the total price to £27,460. This makes it look a little on the expensive side.
You can have a Yeti with a petrol or diesel engine; manual or automatic transmission; front-wheel drive or four-wheel drive; and a range of trim levels. There’s now also a choice between a Yeti and a Yeti Outdoor, which has more ‘off-road’ looks – both are available with two or four-wheel drive. The Yeti is available from £16,915.
If most of your driving is comprised of short, urban journeys, then a front-wheel drive petrol model is probably your best bet. If you’re planning on longer journeys around the UK, all-year round, in all weathers, then the diesel 4×4 with the DSG transmission would be a good choice.
We liked the Skoda Octavia Scout 4×4, but the Yeti 2.0 TDI 170PS 4×4 is probably our favourite Skoda. It’s not perfect; we’d prefer more reach adjustment from the steering wheel, another gear to drop the revs at motorway speeds, and better economy. But this Yeti offers lots of space in a compact footprint, a generally competent driving experience overall, and good looks. Go for the 4×4 option and you’ve also got a car that delivers better traction in all weathers, all year round (even in snow if you invest in a set of winter tyres). The Yeti 2.0 TDI 170PS 4×4 gains a Green Car Guide rating of 9 out of 10.