Skoda Yeti SUV (2013 - ) review
The Skoda Yeti is an eminently sensible family car, with loads of space, practicality and it's very safe, too.
Interested in buying Skoda Yeti?
There’s very little here that’ll set your heart racing. However, that’s not to say that the Yeti is not a smart-looking thing. The chunky, SUV-esque proportions are all present and correct, while the front of the car is dominated by a large grille, and the wide hexagonal headlights complete the tough look. Down the sides, the over-sized, squared-off wheelarches again highlight the Yeti’s off-road pretensions. Although Skoda used to sell a City variant, the only version now on sale is the Yeti Outdoor, which has plastic cladding on the sills and scuff plates to protect the car if you do drive off the beaten track. It comes in two versions. The SE Drive comes with 17-inch alloy wheels, daytime running lights, while the SE L Drive has a different design of wheels in the same size, bi-xenon headlights, LED rear lights, front and rear parking sensors and a set of roof rails.
Step inside the Yeti and you’ll find a cabin that feels solid and built to last, if a little utilitarian. It may not be the most inspiring place to be – the overriding colour scheme in most models is black and/or dark grey – but the materials are tough and hard-wearing. Big buttons and switches mean the major controls are easy to use on the move, while both models get a touch-screen infotainment system, from which many of the major functions are controlled. It’s easy to find a good driving position, too, with plenty of adjustment on the seat and steering wheel, while the seats are both comfy and supportive. The high driving position and wide door apertures mean that getting in and out is no hardship, either.
As a high-riding family car, practicality is a major priority, and the Yeti doesn’t disappoint in this area. There’s loads of space inside, both for those in the front and the back, with ample head- and legroom for up to five passengers, while shoulder room is pretty impressive, too. The boot has plenty of space, offering between 405 and 510 litres; the rear seats can slide back and forth, depending on whether you need to prioritise rear legroom or bootspace. It’s a good, square shape, too, and really deep, maximising the amount you can carry. The load-lip is also impressively low, which means getting heavy loads in and out is relatively easy, something that is also helped by the flexibility of the rear seats. These can be folded flat, tipped forward, or removed entirely. Although removing them gives the Yeti a van-like capacity of 1,760 litres, they’re big and cumbersome, and require a fair bit of strength to get in and out. And, you’ll also need to find somewhere to store them if you do plan on moonlighting as a removals service.
Ride and handling
When you first set eyes on the Yeti, you probably won’t be thinking that it’s going to satisfy a keen driver, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised. The steering has a nice weight to it, and it’s quite direct and confidence-inspiring. There’s nowhere near as much body roll in the corners as you might expect of such a tall car, even during quick direction changes. It’s also pretty competent off-road when equipped with four-wheel drive, tackling some fairly tricky terrain with relative ease. Some buyers may find the ride just a touch firm, especially at low speeds and on models fitted with larger alloy wheels, when it feels a quite lumpy. It improves when you up the pace, though, feeling reassuringly composed at motorway speeds.
There are three engine choices for the Yeti. A 2.0-litre diesel engine comes with two different power outputs – 108bhp or 148bhp – and with either front- or four-wheel drive. The 108bhp version is fairly leisurely, but the more powerful model is considerably punchier, and more comfortable when overtaking or getting up to speed on the motorway. The diesels are a bit noisy, though, especially on cold starts, and when you work them hard, you will notice plenty of noise inside the car. The 1.2-litre petrol punches well above its weight, and although it only has 108bhp, it doesn’t feel like a second-rate choice. It delivers nippy performance and good refinement, as long as you avoid steep hills, when you will need to work it hard. All engines are available with a choice of a five- or six-speed gearbox, depending on the version, or a six- or seven-speed automatic.
The Yeti’s initial purchase price comes in below several of its rivals, including the Nissan Qashqai and Vauxhall Mokka X, but there are still some alternatives that are cheaper, such as the SsangYong Tivoli. It’ll also lose less than the Nissan and the Vauxhall in terms of resale value, but it’s getting on a bit now, and its less impressive fuel economy could bump your overall costs up a bit, as could higher CO2 emissions. Service costs, too, will likely be higher than with some rivals. Overall, though, taking all these aspects into consideration, we expect running costs to be broadly in line with the main rivals.
The Yeti uses well-proven VW Group mechanicals and it feels like a high-quality machine on the inside. Interestingly, Warranty Direct’s Reliability Index doesn’t rate it particularly well, although it’s worth noting that the study’s user feedback is much more positive. Skoda as a brand has a good reputation, sitting well in the top half of manufacturer rankings. The standard warranty is only three years or 60,000 miles, though, less than you get in a Kia or Hyundai.
The Yeti was crash tested by safety organisation Euro NCAP way back in 2009, when it first launched, and it scored the maximum five stars. But 2009 is a long time ago in automotive terms, and the tests today are far more stringent. That said, all models get seven airbags as standard, while rear side airbags are an option. A driver fatigue sensor is an option while a front-seat passenger Isofix child seat fitting point can be added to complement the two in the back.
Just two trim levels are available in the Yeti, but both are well equipped. As well as standard touch-screen infotainment with sat-nav, DAB radio and Bluetooth, all cars get front and rear parking sensors, heated front seats and a heated windscreen. SE L Drive models also get leather upholstery and lumbar support adjustability on the front seats. Options include keyless entry and start, and a rear parking camera.
You want a quietly handsome family car, with all the benefits of an SUV, but none of the drawbacks. It handles nicely, is reasonably cheap to run, comes well equipped and can even do some off-roading. Having said that, it’s starting to show its age in some areas, so make sure you check out the competition before you make a final decision.