Laughs in the face of potholes

Tested: Skoda Yeti SE Plus 110 PS diesel

The Skoda Yeti is a C-segment cross-over available with two- or four-wheel-drive. The model we have on test at Motor Writer is the 2WD 2.0 110 PS diesel SE Plus. And it hasn’t taken long to discover this Yeti isn’t abominable in the least. It is roomy and easy to drive, its ubiquitous VW Group diesel engine is a delight and the SE Plus trim level means it is full of goodies.

The interior gives the impression of ruggedness, with a neat but plain dash and fairly thick steering wheel rim; in fact, just like most other cars, it has plastic threshold strips and boot edges which are easy to scratch so you’ll need to look after your Yeti.  That said, it’s very flexible, with reclining, sliding and folding-up rear seats to turn it into a van. The boxy shape maximises load capacity, providing 1,760 litres of space. There are hooks for items in the boot, picnic tables like those in Vanden Plas models of the 1970s (but no walnut veneer), sat-nav, Bluetooth, MP3 connectivity and an almost anachronistic six CD multi-changer. It does clever stuff too, like dropping the radio volume when reverse gear is selected so the driver can hear the parking sensors.

On the move, the two litre diesel is willing and the ratios of the five speed manual ‘box are particularly well chosen. Forth is flexible around town; fifth is good from 40 mph yet ticks over at just 2,100 rpm at 70 mph enabling relaxed motorway driving.

Laughing in the face of potholes

And so we come to the feather in the Yeti’s fur cap: its suspension. This achieves the critical balance of being supple enough to cope with speed humps and potholes yet feels firm enough for good control and handling. It brings to mind the amount of time we usually spend scanning the road ahead for imperfections; the Yeti just gobbles them up.

I did reject the Yeti for shifting bags of builders’ sand in favour of my Series Land Rover but this was more out of sympathy for the Skoda’s interior than its capacity or lugging ability. Whatever else I filled the Yeti with, the torquey engine and firm but supple suspension coped admirably.

So there are no debates in terms of the Yeti’s capabilities but it’s the styling which has had people talking the most. Comments range from ‘cool’ and ‘funky’ to ‘well, I might get used to it but it’s not pretty’. The bright Postman Pat paint certainly caught people’s attentions. I’m in the former camp – I think it’s fabulous. I like the overall functional shape, the floating roof design with all but the B-pillars hidden and the good ground clearance. And I like the fact that it is distinctive, too.

It surprises me how often purchase price or perceived brand prestige do not preclude poor design or execution. The pleasure of the Yeti comes from it being such a well thought-out vehicle capable of dealing with the poor road conditions in the UK. This is another for the virtual Motor Writer fleet, although perhaps with the four wheel drive option for winter.

Model tested:

Skoda Yeti SE Plus 110 PS diesel tested costs £18,230 (plus £100 for the 17” alloys). The Yeti range starts at £14,645.

Power: 110 PS (4,200 rpm), torque: 250 Nm (1,500-2,500 rpm), emissions: 140 g/km CO2 (band E), 0-62 mph: 11.6 secs.

Motor Writer rating: ●●●●●

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