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Skoda Yeti 1.8 TSI SE Plus 4x4

Click to view picture galleryBlack is not the only fuel colour
  for Skoda
s SUV. Skoda has fitted
  a smooth petrol powerplant that
  doesn
t slurp the unleaded
  and not only won
t it break the bank
  to buy (15,135 up to 22,835), but
  if you don
t drive that many miles
  a year, unleaded could well turn
 
out to be your flexible friends new
  best friend...


LOOKS-WISE THE YETI is a boldly blended mix of high-riding estate car and rugged SUV with any hint of brutish 4x4 neatly airbrushed out: if it was an 007 it would be a Sean Connery because of its affable competence as opposed to Daniel Craig attitude.

While it enjoys the capable ground clearance of an off-roader, the main impression inside the Yeti's cabin is not that you're sitting that much higher (which you are; and rear passengers enjoy platform seating) than many other folk, but of the generously roomy interior.

“The middle seat also
has a trick up its sleeve:
it folds to become a
table, either for business
or picnicking pleasure
...”
There really is masses of personal space — underpinned by versatility and defined by Skoda's Varioflex seating system. In the back you'll find three individual sliding seats that easily lift out anytime you need to max out your Yeti's loadbay.

The middle seat also has a trick up its sleeve: it folds to become a table, either for business or picnicking pleasure. Folding 'pop-up' trays on the backs of both front seat will also prove handy for eating 'in' when exploring the great outdoors.

From a driver's point of view the Yeti's cabin is great; the high driving position provides A1 visibility all round and the front seats are both comfy and supportive with lumbar and height adjustment —
and the fabric upholstery is warm in winter and doesn't burn your back when you return after parking in the summer. Height adjustable front seat belts are another good point for both safety and comfort.

Fit and finish are fine, as too is the four-spoke leather-rimmed wheel with remote controls on the spokes for the audio, phone and driver's info. Dials are classic white-on-black —
and classically clear. Between them you can read various driver information such as range, external temperature, navigation advice or, off-road, view a compass. The touchscreen display shows you where you are in 3D (and, usefully, where the Yeti's hard edges are when reversing).

Many cars now have a cooled glovebox or a central storage bin under the centre front armrest —
Skoda gives you both! Perfect for preventing summertime family trips become 'simmertimes'. Oh, yes, the armrest is also height adjustable and the dual-zone A/C delivers really cold air when you need it — and fast!

With the three individual folding and sliding rear seats in position (all, incidentally, with adjustable backrests and more that capable of keeping an adult comfortable for even long journeys), the boot is 416-litres big; with the 40;20:40 rear seats folded and tumbled forward, this increases to 1,580 litres.

The Varioflex seating provides numerous combinations: for instance, with the rear middle seat removed the two rear seats can be moved inwards towards the centre for a more indulgent 'two-seater' arrangement.

“Should you need to
maximise the loadbay’s
length you can remove
the three individual rear
seats (they’re easily
manageable) —
this also expands the
loadbay to an
amazing 1,760 litres
...”
The tailgate is generously sized and opens high and with the rear seats folded away there's ample room for buggies and just about everything else a family on the move needs.

And, should you need to maximise the loadbay's length, you can remove the three rear seats (they're easily manageable),
which also expands the loadbay to a cargo-swallowing 1,760 litres. For the record, the cabin has numerous storage spaces — more than enough, in fact, to keep the average family shipshape.

Walk around to the tail and more versatility awaits you: under the boot floor is a large easy-clean tray; and slung beneath the rigid rear parcel shelf-cum-luggage cover is a multi-use elasticated net pouch —
you'll be surprised at what you can carry in this.

And where other brands might give you bag carriers, Skoda goes one better —
it mounts repositionable heavy-duty bag hooks on rails (two per side) so they can be slid and set in the most useful positions. Handy, too, is the removable 'corral' for bottles, ostrich eggs and other fragile items that quickly unclips and folds flat for easy storage; a stretchy luggage net is equally useful. There's no spare wheel although there is, of course, a puncture repair and inflation kit.

The real bonus is that all this versatility comes in a five-door 'box' that's an inch shorter than a three-door Golf hatchback. A compactness that makes the Yeti very easy to place and to park.

Light is a major pull for most family buyers and with its deep windows, generous glass areas and airy spaces around the seats, the Yeti is a very nice place to travel —
specify the panoramic glass roof (1,065) and you really do get the full 'light fantastic' treatment (the large front section opens and there's a full-length powered sunblind all with one-shot operation). And there could be health benefits too: a friend who suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder spends a lot of time in her glass-roofed car — and swears she feels better for it!

Along with four-wheel drive the 1.8 TSI SE Plus comes much of the kit you'd expect to find in an executive car: touchscreen SatNav, parking sensors, cruise control, dual-zone AirCon, power windows (all four one-shot auto up/down) and electrically-adjustable and heated door mirrors, automatic drive-away central locking, decent sound system with 6xCD autochanger, trip computer, leather-wrapped multifunction wheel, privacy glass, roof rails, and a set of smart 17-inch alloys wearing 225/50 boots.

“The real bonus is that
all this versatility comes
in a five-door ‘box’
that’s roughly one inch
shorter than a three-door
Golf hatchback
...”
Safety is also well-specced with an electronic control programme (ESP), a full complement of front, side and curtain airbags plus a driver's knee bag, halogen headlights, and integrated headlight washers.

Winter is the time of the year that most motorists' thoughts turn to snow and ice —
and how best to beat them. Four-wheel drive is the only practical answer. The Yeti offers the choice of both two- and four-wheel drive but, given the increasingly wild and unpredictable weather we're getting more and more often, it seems short-sighted not to cover your bets and go with the all-wheel drive.

Besides, it's actually a year-round blessing because wet 'n' windy can be just as tricky as the seasonal white 'n' ice. During our week with the 4x4 Yeti it more than proved its worth, wading through flooded back roads with ease, even where the water reached almost to the tops of the wheels and other drivers were forced to turn back.

Go for the 4x4 version and Skoda gives you an extra button to play with —
hit the 'off-road' button on the dash and you'll get some extra hi-tech help whenever you decide to venture away from the tarmac and put some adventure into your motoring.

With 'off-road' mode engaged the ABS braking and Electronic Stability Programme control systems are switched to a special off-road setting that makes use of features such as Uphill Start Assist (for pulling away on wet, slippery or snowy road surfaces) and Downhill Assist, which maintains a steady speed during descents down slippery, wet or snowy road surfaces.

There's a school of thought that says that when you buy a 'sensible' family car then you've already given up on getting any enjoyment from your driving. Clearly the people who propagate this humbug have never sat behind the wheel of a Yeti —
it's reassuringly predictable, well balanced and has decent levels of grip.

And if you want to plant that right foot, it's more than up for some entertaining driving, holding its line though bends and corners and backed up by a set of powerful brakes to keep it all in check. All reminding you that there's a lot of VW Golf DNA under the Skoda skin!

“A Yeti will never make
you regret being a ‘family
guy’ every time you turn
the key in the ignition.
And when you’re wearing
your ‘responsible’ hat,
it makes a fine
school-runner
...”
Plus it will never make you regret being a 'family guy' every time you turn the key in the ignition. Equally good, when you're wearing your 'responsible' hat, it makes a fine school-runner.

But back to where we came in: fuel consumption. Officially this 149bhp four-cylinder 1.8-litre should do 35.3 miles on a gallon of unleaded.

A week's hard driving on all roads —
from single track country lanes (the kind with grass growing down the centre), through choked-up town traffic and fast-moving motorways — saw our four-wheel drive Yeti come very close to that with a not-bad-at-all 34.2mpg. We'd expect most drivers to beat us on that!

The turboed, direct injection engine is refined; at tickover you might want to double-check the rev-counter just to confirm it's running. It will be. And gutsy, too: supporting the
149bhp is 184lb ft of torque on tap just where you need it — all the way from 1,500 to 4,500rpm. The top speed is 125mph and zero to 62mph acceleration takes a brisk 8.4 seconds. An ample sufficiency, as they say — and more than enough for 'no worries' overtaking.

Making best use of the six gears is hassle-free thanks to the slickly positive shift action even though it's flexible enough to cope left in a higher gear —
even top gear will provide effective overtaking pick-up on the motorway.

Adding further to the Yeti's family-friendly appeal is the settled, easygoing ride; it stays smooth over all man-made road surfaces. It also delivers a well-judged balance between handling and ride comfort that not just you but all your passengers will appreciate.

Is this Yeti for you? Well, if you hanker for the smoothness of petrol power and have a family in tow, a versatile and spacious Yeti will indeed streamline your life; if you're not encumbered with your own personal tribe but enjoy an active lifestyle, a Yeti could quickly become your best buddy. And with winter on the way, now would be a very good time to try one on for size. —
MotorBar

Skoda Yeti 1.8 TSI SE Plus 4x4 | 20,855
Maximum speed: 125mph | 0-62mph: 8.4 seconds | Overall Test MPG: 34.2mpg
Power: 149bhp | Torque: 184lb ft | CO2 189g/km