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Skoda Yeti review (2013 onwards)
Skoda Yeti 2014: summary
Now available in regular and Outdoor varieties for the first time, the 2014 Skoda Yeti also gets a better 4x4 system and some extra ‘simply clever’ features. It remains as appealingly honest and capable as before.
What: Skoda Yeti 2014 facelift
Where: Dusseldorf, Germany
Date: November, 2013
Price: £16,600 - £27,050
Available: January 2014
Key rivals:Nissan Qashqai, Volkswagen Tiguan, Kia Sportage, Vauxhall Mokka, MINI Countryman
We like: impressive off-road capability, spacious, versatile, feels built to last
We don’t like: refinement could still be better, lacks latest safety kit, irritable ride
Skoda Yeti 2014: first impressions
Ahh, the Skoda Yeti – one of the most beloved cars on sale in the UK. Yeti owners, it seems, absolutely adore their cars – this big boxy crossover apparently striking exactly the right chord between functionality, quality and lifestyle. Now, after four years and over 218,000 sales, the Yeti is getting a mid-term facelift.
This big, boxy crossover strikes the right chord between functionality, quality and lifestyle
And for once there is actually something more to talk about than a ‘re-imagined’ wing mirror and an extra bit of chrome. This is no minor visual tweak. Rather, Skoda has decided to split the Yeti into two distinct model lines – regular (white car) and Outdoor (green car) – as well as giving it a corporate nose job.
It is this new face that you’ll notice first. Gone are the Yeti’s distinctive round lights, replaced by a much squarer, more conventional look that brings the car into line with other current Skodas. You’ll like this, or you won’t; to our eyes it’s now a little too much in danger of looking like a van, but hey.
These alterations have brought the front foglights lower, and the design team has also tightened the lines along the Yeti’s flanks and added a new set of rear lights with a sharp, c-shaped signature. Outdoor versions get black body cladding and modified bumpers to improve their off-road prowess.
As before, both four-wheel drive and front-wheel drive Yetis are available, and amongst the relatively limited engineering changes is a new, faster-acting 4x4 system, notable because a substantial number of Yeti buyers do choose four-wheel drive. There are also some new engine and gearbox combos.
Skoda Yeti 2014: performance
Covering most bases in this regard is the new 2.0 TDI 170 4x4 DSG, which now tops the range. Shame the twin-clutch DSG transmission is still restrained to just six gears with this 170hp engine when some less powerful units get seven.
At higher speeds it does become apparent that you are essentially pushing a brick through the air
Ditto how the manual gearbox fitted to the front-wheel drive 110hp 2.0 TDI only gets five gears when every other version (bar the eco-centric GreenLine) gets six. It seems like Skoda has scrimped a bit, and cruising refinement suffers as a result.
Still, both engines offer motorway muscle, even if they do also get dirgy if you rev them out. Unsurprisingly, the 170 feels noticeably more vigorous, and while you could live with the 110, it won’t come as much of a shock to learn the 140hp diesel that strikes the middle ground is the current and predicted best seller.
At higher speeds it does become apparent that you are essentially pushing a brick through the air – there are disadvantages to the Yeti’s pragmatic shape. Wind noise is particularly prevalent. But as a highly versatile family battlewagon, this is a compromise that’s easy to accept; it’s hardly overwhelming in any case.
Skoda Yeti 2014: ride and handling
Likewise, though the Yeti’s tall suspension and upright stature are always apparent as it leans its way around corners, it has plenty of readable grip and is very transparent in its intentions – regardless of whether you pick front- or four-wheel drive. There are no nasty handling scares lurking here.
We are, however, a touch disappointed with the ride quality. This is decidedly niggly even over German tarmac, which is traditionally far superior in its smoothness to our own.
So while it never really crashes or bangs over bumps, the Yeti does seem rather irritable, if not quite entirely unsettled. The winter tyres fitted to the test vehicles probably didn’t help.
It will comfortably tackle anything a moderately ambitious owner might throw at it off-road
To demonstrate that the Yeti is more than just a posturing crossover, Skoda had us drive 4x4 Outdoor versions around a forest off-road course, complete with water splashes, 60% gradient descents, suspension-stretching off-set bumps and even a log bridge over a river.
A new off-road mode – standard on Outdoor Elegance 4x4 models and above, and activated via a single button in the centre console – boosts the previous hill descent control with off-road ABS and electronic differential locking, and turns the Yeti into a modestly credible green-laner.
You will have to be weary of the ground clearance; the Outdoor variant does not get any increase in ride height to go with the improved ‘approach’ and ‘departure’ angles of its bespoke bumpers.
But there is a great deal of underbody protection you can’t see, and we’re confident it will comfortably tackle anything a moderately ambitious owner might throw at it.
Skoda Yeti 2014: interior
The Yeti comes in four trim levels – S, SE, Elegance and Laurin & Klement – and all of these are available in both regular and Outdoor flavours except the range-topping L&K, which only comes as an Outdoor model; Skoda expects 70% of buyers to opt for Outdoor variants of the car.
Boot space can be expanded to 510 litres just by sliding the rear seats forward
Standard equipment is comprehensive throughout, and the 2014 update has brought new Skoda ‘simply clever’ features, such as the reversible floor mat and LED flashlight in the boot. Shame the fuel filler flap ice-scraper isn’t one of them, but you can’t have everything.
The interior benefits from new steering wheels and some nice quality trim highlights, but is offered with the same (old) sat-nav system, rather than the latest system from the new MQB-platform VW Group cars. It is spacious, though, especially in the rear, helped by sliding, reclining seats there.
For some reason, the nominal boot space always seems slightly disappointing to us upon first opening the tailgate. But it’s actually 405 litres minimum, and can be expanded to 510 litres just by sliding the rear seats forward. These also not only fold flat, they come out altogether, creating a massive 1,760 litres of room.
Skoda Yeti 2014: economy and safety
While the most efficient version of the Yeti – the 119g/km CO2 1.6-litre TDI GreenLine – makes no improvements, the new four-wheel drive system is lighter, smarter and faster, which means there are small improvements in the order of 3-5g/km and 2mpg to Yeti 4x4 models.
We can’t see the 2014 Skoda Yeti being anything but a further success
The best-selling 140hp TDI, for example, improves from 152g/km to 149g/km and from 48.7mpg to 50.4mpg – enough to see it drop a tax band from £175 to £140, saving buyers £35 a year.
Safety kit includes the usual ranks of electronic assistance – the off-road mode worth mentioning again as a one-button solution to improved cross-country safety – and you can have as many as nine airbags (seven are standard). The Yeti is not available with the latest city and pedestrian autonomous braking tech, however.
Skoda Yeti 2014: the MSN Cars verdict
The Yeti is a brilliantly simple concept carried off with just the right amount of panache, and it’s easy to see how for many people it quickly become the perfect home on wheels for today’s hectic, multifaceted lifestyles.
Though the engineering improvements here are relatively minor in the grand scheme of things, with such a well-established set of credentials already, we can’t see the revised Skoda Yeti for 2014 being anything but a further success.
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