Skoda Yeti Review: 2010 Model | Yeti | Car Buyers Guide

2010 Skoda Yeti Review

Skoda’s Yeti SUV has already got off to a good start in Ireland in two-wheel-drive form, and for 2011, the range has been expanded with the addition of a four-wheel-drive model and new diesel engines. Skoda is bullish about the Yeti’s prospects going forward, and hopes to sell 1,000 of them here by 2013. It’s aiming the chunky SUV squarely at Nissan’s Qashqai, and crossover offerings from Korean manufacturers Kia and Hyundai are no doubt in its sights, too.


The 1.2-litre TSI, Band C petrol engine remains in the Yeti range for 2011, but the 110bhp, 1.6-litre TDI diesel has been dropped in favour of a new, 105bhp, 1.6 TDI ‘GreenLine’ diesel, which offers similar performance to the Band C motor it replaces, but with Band A (€104 per year) emissions and fuel consumption of just 4.6l/100km. Skoda has Band A GreenLine versions of all its cars coming on stream this year, all of which use a start/stop system, aerodynamic tweaks and special low-resistance tyres to minimise their environmental impact. The green impetus has never been stronger in the Irish new car market than it is right now, but the challenging weather conditions experienced by much of the country in the final weeks of 2010 have focused buyers’ minds on another criteria: how well their car copes when temperatures plummet and ice and snow sets in. It’s hard to say just how much of an effect these concerns will have on what new cars people buy in the first few months of 2011, but the manufacturers are leaving nothing to chance and the severe-weather capability of several all-wheel-drive models is being heavily promoted right now.


At the time of the Yeti’s initial launch just over 12 months ago, Skoda Ireland had no firm plans to bring the planned four-wheel-drive version of the car to Ireland. The vast majority of Irish SUV and crossover buyers are perfectly happy with two-wheel-drive versions of cars like Nissan’s Qashqai and Toyota’s RAV4 – they are bought for their high driving positions; practicality; and rugged, chunky looks rather than serious mud-plugging ability. But last January’s cold snap prompted a rethink, and a realisation that there may well be demand for a crossover with serious off-roading ability to match its looks. And so we find ourselves testing the new Yeti 4x4’s credentials, not in Scandinavia or some other ‘extreme’ environment, but right here in Ireland.


The Irish launch took place in and around the village of Macreddin, Co. Wicklow, a mountainous area where the snow was still thick on the ground long after it had disappeared from the streets of Dublin. Our test route took us up narrow, single-track roads still wearing a treacherous coat of frozen snow and black ice that would present a daunting challenge behind the wheel of a conventional car. You would be correct to surmise that, seeing as you’re reading this article, I did make it back in one piece, and I can confirm that the Yeti 4x4 is a useful tool in the sort of conditions that confounded many of us in the weeks before Christmas, thanks in no small part to a great deal of clever technology.


The heart of the car’s drivetrain is its Haldex inter-axle clutch. Under normal driving conditions, this clutch maintains a 95/5 split of power between the front and rear axles, giving the Yeti the driving characteristics of a normal front-wheel-drive car (it shares basic underpinnings with the Octavia and VW’s Golf). Under certain conditions – such as moving off from a standing start or on slippery roads – more power is sent to the rear axle, which makes for an improved driving experience all round.


The clutch works in concert with an alphabet soup of electronic systems to help the Yeti tackle challenging conditions safely. A switch on the dashboard activates ‘off-road’ mode, which changes the behaviour of these systems to suit low-grip or rough conditions. As the pre-Christmas cold snap showed, a lot of Irish drivers struggle with the basics of car control when things get icy. Many a poor Corolla or Astra was revved to within an inch of its life in a futile attempt to make progress out of a car park or driveway. Situations like this are avoided in the Yeti thanks to uphill start assist, which limits revs to 2,500rpm and adjusts the characteristics of the accelerator to make pulling away on slippery slopes a doddle.


There’s also hill descent control to help you come back down. By applying braking separately to all four wheels, this system holds the car at a steady speed when coming down gradients of more than 10 percent, allowing you to concentrate on steering. Thick and broken lumps of ice and snow had made the roads we drove in Wicklow extremely bumpy, and the descent control really came into its own here, making it much easier to concentrate on picking a path through the bumps and ruts without the added worry of the car getting away from you on the slope.


The Yeti’s off-road mode also modifies the behaviour of the ABS system, allowing the wheels to lock for longer than they would on a dry road and making use of any surface material pushed up against the wheels to increase braking force. Finally, the Electronic Differential Lock (EDL) ensures progress can be made even if the wheels on one side of the car have little or no traction. It works across each axle, braking the slipping wheel faster than the wheel that has grip in order to keep the Yeti moving forward.


What all this jargon translates to in the real world is a seriously capable off-road machine. Okay, so it’s not a Land Rover Defender or a Toyota Hilux, but the Yeti can still deal with some pretty severe terrain with impressive ease. Of course, most Irish buyers will not be interested in exploring the upper limits of the Yeti’s all-terrain prowess, but they will definitely be interested in how it can get them out of a snow-bound driveway on a winter morning and make their drive to work a lot less hair-raising.


All the off-road trickery does come at a price, however. You can be rolling in a two-wheel-drive, base-spec, petrol Yeti for as little €22,330, but the four-wheel drive will set you back €29,545 for the mid-level Ambition spec, or €31,480 for the range-topping Experience. Even at that price, though, it’s enough to make you think twice if you were in the market for a Ford Kuga, which is arguably better looking and better to drive, but can only manage Band D emissions (€447 road tax). Whatever Yeti you choose, the most you’ll be paying in road tax is €302 (Band C). As a rival to Nissan’s Qashqai, the Yeti is very well placed, especially seeing as the four-wheel-drive versions of the Qashqai do not exactly cover themselves in glory when it comes to emissions. The only area where the Nissan trumps the Skoda is the availability of a 7-seat version for those with larger families.


As for looks, I’m a big fan of the Yeti’s chunky, functional, unpretentious exterior styling, but some may find it too utilitarian for their tastes. That’s certainly not the case inside, however – the top-of-the range ‘Experience’ spec models that we climbed the mountains in were decked out with adjustable leather seats for driver and passenger and touch-screen multimedia systems, but even the base Active model gives you 16-inch alloys, ESP, Varioflex seating and an iPod connection. All trim levels feature typically high-quality VW group cabin finish and a clean, unfussy dash layout. With the rear seats in their standard position, boot space is perhaps not as big as would be expected for a car in this segment, but all specifications of the Yeti are equipped with the ‘Varioflex’ seating system, which allows any or all of the three rear seats to be either folded down or removed entirely. The high roof allows for masses of headroom and there’s also a plethora of cubbyholes for storage dotted around the cabin.


Overall, the Yeti 4x4 is a very good package. It’s well priced, if not screamingly good value, but more importantly, it features just the right blend of off-road capability and on-road manners that the average family buyer is looking for. A two-wheel-drive Qashqai or RAV4 will be no help when/if the snow hits again next year, but the ride and handling compromises associated with a pukka off-roader like a Land Cruiser are just not worth enduring for the other 11 months of the year. For this reason, the Yeti 4x4 is likely to be spotted a lot more frequently than its hairy Himalayan namesake will be over the next year or so.



Skoda Yeti 2.0 TDI 4x4 Experience



2.0-litre, turbocharged, 4-cylinder diesel

Output @ rpm

140hp @ 4,200; 320Nm @ 1,750


6-speed manual, 4-wheel drive


0–100km/h in 9.9s

Top speed




CO2 emissions


CO2 tax band

C (€302 p.a.)



Boot capacity


Base price

€22,330 (2-wheel drive); €29,545 (4-wheel drive)

Price as tested



Good on/off-road compromise, nice cabin, strong emissions and economy


Functional rather than stylish, no 7-seater available



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