Skoda’s quirky Yeti has won a raft of awards and a loyal following. Emily Padfield wondered what all the fuss was about
I’ve developed a crush on a rugged Czech. It’s not the sort of thing that my boyfriend need worry about, since this Czech is a Skoda Yeti.
It’s a geeky, awkward-looking beast, much like its hairy namesake. It looks like it should be reserved for the sort of geography teacher who wears sandals with socks, has an unhealthy interest in glacial movements and is permanently tethered to an OS map.
But I do like the Yeti’s individuality. It’s one of those cars you still get excited about when you see one on the motorway. And you experience that same warm feeling of solidarity with other owners that you get with early Land Rovers. You want to wave frantically at the owner and invite them round for tea and Garibaldi biscuits.
Engine: 2-litre TDI CR 110bhp
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Fuel efficiency: 46.3 combined
Towing capacity: 1800kg
Price: £21,010 (4wd) £19,305 (2wd)
I took my test Yeti to Germany for the annual tractor multitest we do with our colleagues from the French, German and Dutch equivalents of Farmers Weekly.
It’s a surprisingly long way to Munster when you live in Warwickshire. But I didn’t get bored of driving the Yeti. Its perky two-litre, 110hp engine was punchy enough to sit at comfortable motorway speeds and the six-speed manual box was positive to drive, with acceleration a lot quicker than you’d expect.
Models equipped with 4wd get an electric button on the centre console, which is easy to engage and quick to react. The system senses what each wheel is doing and transfers power to the one that needs it most.
There’s also a useful uphill assist facility with a rev limiter, so even inexperienced off-roaders can’t overstretch the clutch and engine. Meanwhile, a downhill function harnesses engine braking to keep descents stable.
Like its distant cousin (also named after an animal that inhabits mountainous areas) the VW Amarok pickup, ABS is configured to work differently off-road, using a build up of debris in front of the front wheels to stop quicker and more safely.
For those who intend using their Yeti for a lot of off-roading, there’s a “rough road” package with a metal cover for the engine and transmission, reinforced brake fluid and handbrake cables and a cover for the fuel and brake lines. The ground clearance is a decent 180mm, enough to cope with most of the pronounced tramlines this season.
Spec level was high in the Elegance model we tested, with a panoramic roof that gives what seems like acres of space. It would be pretty useful for lamping, too.
Despite being little longer than a conventional hatchback, the height of the Yeti makes it seem a lot bigger. Space in the back was enough to fit in three burly Germans who, despite getting an impromptu shower after I pressed the wrong button on the sunroof control, said it was pretty comfortable.
There is a compromise, however, and that’s the limited space left for the boot. The Yeti makes up for some of this by having clever hanging bits and bobs for tethering shopping or unruly children.
Bi-xenon lights with active cornering, standard on this Elegance model, make driving at night surprisingly untiring and, thanks to the acres of glass, visibility is excellent even when driving on the wrong side of the road.
Towing is 1800kg on the two-litre 4×4 version, or you can opt for a more powerful 170bhp 4×4 model that can pull 2000kg. For a car of its size, that’s pretty good.
The Yeti is quirky, nippy and entertaining to drive. It won’t give you the street cred that it’s haughtier cousins like the Audi and VW might, but it has acres more character. There’s plenty of room for a family and it cuts more of a dash than you might expect.