Skoda Yeti : Roadtest

Radical, innovative and with a quirky name, the Yeti has been a long time coming. Skoda's fifth all new model is all set to be the first of its kind. Abhishek Nigam confronts the beast!

Pics by Kunal Khadse



After a thousand stares and queries by motorists, petrol pump attendees and then some I finally figured that the attention wasn’t just because Skoda’s fifth all new model wasn’t seen before, but it was because of the quirky character that this Teutonic Czech was exuding. While quirky can also mean bizarre, Yeti towers more towards the radical. But then this is not the first time that Skoda has come out with such a radical concept. For those who didn’t know Skoda has already been making the popular Roomster which is a five seater multi-purpose vehicle based on the Fabia. The Yeti is based pretty much on the roomster but now with its SUVish underpinnings, it’s pretty much a multi-purpose SUV and suddenly makes a lot more sense. So will the Yeti carve out a niche for itself or will it be battling the already frenzied bunch soft-roaders already present in the market? Let’s find out.





Doesn’t look hairy nor scary

The name is a bit of a misnomer with the Yeti looking anything like the abominable snowman. In fact most eyes which appreciated how the Yeti looks, found it to be rather cute. Watching it pass, one could easily mistake it for large hatch. But it’s only when you give more than a passing glance that the details begin to appear. Looking at it head on, the Yeti can be easily recognized from the Skoda family thanks to that unmistakable Skoda grille. Then there are the fog lights which have been raised and recessed to protect them. These fog lights not only look the part but are so effective that they almost serve as headlights. Then there is the butch looking bumper with skid plates which is a must have for any vehicle with off-road intentions and the very stylish air dam.





While the detailing looks brilliant, the Yeti as a whole looks nothing short of a bread box, but full marks to Skoda for making such a good looking bread box. What really works for the Yeti is its size. Parked next to a Tata Safari, the Yeti is totally dwarfed. Dimensionally the Yeti falls bang in between the little Premier Rio and the Scorpio/Safari, which basically means the Yeti is sized just right. At 4.2 metres in length and 1.7 metres wide the Yeti is extremely manageable in the cut and thrust of the city and not half as cumbersome as its rivals to park as well. As far as the looks of the Yeti is concerned it definitely looks like nothing else on the road and we absolutely adore it.





Radical outside and Ingenious insides

Before we get to the clever seating bit, let’s just see how the Yeti does as a conventional five seater. Ingress-egress as expected from a tall car is extremely comfortable. As you settle into the large seats, you are welcomed to a pretty familiar looking fascia. With bits and pieces from the Superb and Laura, the interiors of the Yeti is nothing short classy. Fit and finish is top notch and everything slides and moves with clock like precision. The Ambiente trim comes loaded to the brim with acres of leather, a touch screen multimedia system and wooden inserts. Compact dimensions mean the Yeti isn’t the most spacious car in its segment. While three medium sized adults fit just about right, anything bigger than medium and seating starts to become intimately close.





‘Vario Flex’ is the answer

Picked straight from the innovative Roomster, the Yeti’s rear seats can be completely removed in case you need to move your whole house. I’m suggesting house because removing the rear seats generates a humongous 1760 litres of space. But the innovative part comes when you remove the middle seat completely (yes, there are three separate seats the rear). Once the done, the outside seats can be moved length wise for a comfortable seating position. Then there are independently adjustable backrest positions too and bungee cords built into the seat backs for load restraint purposes. Clever isn’t it?





Brilliant oil burner for the beast!

Powering this beast is the very same engine that also powers the Laura and Superb. While we were totally impressed with its performance in both those cars, it ends up doing a fabulous job in the Yeti as well. The in-line four cylinder direct injection turbo diesel churns out an impressive 142 PS @ 4200 rpm and a maximum twist of 320 Nm which is available from just under 2000 rpm. However unlike the brilliant DSG gearbox in the other two cars, the Yeti’s engine is mated to a very smooth shifting 6-speed manual. Tried and tested is what this oilburner is and apart from those early morning clutters, the engine is so refined that one can barely make figure out it’s a diesel. Another new tidbit in the engine is the full time Haldex 4x4 system. What it does is under normal operating conditions, up to 96% of the engines torque is shifted to the front wheels while the rear wheels will be operated at 90% of the torque. The difference in speed between the front and the rear wheels is detected with a group of sensors. This enables a perfect drive on all surfaces.




The Yeti out in the open

Slot the chrome tipped gear lever into 1st and before you know the Yeti has stalled. Quite embarrassing especially after being behind the wheel for ten years. But it's only when my colleagues stalled the car as well that I came to the conclusion that the Yeti has an extremely light clutch which needs more revs than usual. And the stalling is especially more prominent when one needs a quick start off the line. But once you get going, the Yeti responds like a beast in heat. Even though it’s lugging all of 1543 kg, the Yeti is lightening quick. The ton is swallowed in a scant 11.4 seconds which is almost as quick as the much lighter Laura. But where it shines most is the roll-on figures. The 40-120 in 4th gear is covered in just 14.4 seconds which speaks volumes about the Yeti’s drivability. Even in sixth gear there is more than enough poke to overtake if the tacho is hovering in the powerband.




With a monocoque chassis linked to a McPherson set up at the front and a multi-link axle at the rear the Yeti makes no bones about it being made more for on-road antics than hard core off the road fun. Put the Yeti hard into a corner and you won’t be disappointed. The big Skoda corners flat with minimal with the electro-mechanical steering providing ample feedback as well. However, once on the limit, understeer kicks which is easily overcome by backing off the throttle. The 4x4 system along with the ESP works really well reining in the front or the rear when being pushed to the limit. The brilliant handling does have a trade off though and that reflects in the ride quality. Ride quality is pretty much on the stiffer side and the Yeti literally thuds over potholes which are felt by the passengers. An undulating surface causes no problems whatsoever but when craters, as we call it, are brought into the picture the Yeti is a tad too stiff.





Not quite a voracious eater this one

A 6-speed manual gearbox coupled with extremely good gear ratios means the Yeti loves to sip rather than gulp. Driven around town the Yeti easily managed to eke out 11.2 kmpl which is not a bad figure at all considering the congested traffic conditions in which the Yeti was driven with AC on at all times. The highway as expected yielded much better results and the Yeti managed to dish out 16.4 kmpl. With an overall figure of 12.5 kmpl and a 60 litre tank the Yeti will easily manage 750 km before having to visit the fuel pump again.





To own or not to own

The Yeti has been a long time coming and now that it's finally here it definitely seems to be worth the wait. Takes the rough with the smooth and how, the Yeti is the vehicle to buy if you need a smart compact SUV which is perfectly at home in an urban environment and is not too shy to dirty its tyres whenever the situation is called for. Typical Skoda build quality, decently spacious and very clever interiors and a stonker of an engine which delivers on the performance and efficiency front means you cannot go wrong with the Yeti. Then there is the very funky styling which is sure to stand out amongst the crowd and the price which at Rs. 15.73 lakh (ex-showroom Mumbai) for the Ambiente version makes it a rather good deal. However, a lot has been skimped on and you will have to make do with the brilliant touch screen multimedia system and the 4x4 system. The Elegance trim however with all the goodies loaded will set you back by 16.99 lakh (ex-showroom Mumbai) which again is still priced better than the competition. Skoda is known to churn out well made products which appeal both to the heart and mind and the Yeti is no different.


Recommended Variant : Yeti Style 4X4

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