Skoda Yeti SUV
Price: £16,600 - £27,725
- Great to drive
- Very practical
- 4x4 models are great off-road
- Slightly uncomfortable ride
- High CO2 emissions
- Not as good value as it once was
"The Skoda Yeti is a small SUV that's great fun to drive, has lots of personality and is a big hit with owners, but it's starting to feel a little dated."
The Skoda Yeti is a talented compact crossover that rivals models like the Nissan Qashqai, Kia Sportage and Peugeot 3008. It looks more rugged than those models, though, thanks to boxy dimensions and chunky, Tonka-toy styling.
The standard Yeti is two-wheel drive, but Yeti Outdoor models get a four-wheel drive system, which – combined with the car's raised ride height – makes it a very effective off-roader. It also has a clever, versatile Varioflex seating layout, which lets you slide, tumble or completely remove the seats for superb practicality.
Skoda gave the Yeti an update at the end of 2013, redesigning the exterior to bring it more in line with the rest of the Skoda range and making some tweaks to the spec levels. Despite this, the Yeti is beginning to show its age, and emission levels and mpg lag behind its main rivals. The interior looks a little dated, too, and the Yeti has a bit of an uncomfortable ride thanks to a firm suspension set-up. It's still an incredibly competent car, though – and few vehicles are so beloved by their owners, just take a look at its performance in the Driver Power satisfaction survey. It came second in the 2011 Top 100 cars and first in 2012 and 2013. So as far as UK motorists are concerned, it is the most satisfying car to own. That's not a bad recommendation.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Lags behind rivals when it comes to fuel economy and emissions
One of the areas where the Yeti is beginning to show its age is running costs – it's no longer particularly competitive in this category. The most efficient model is the Greenline II version fitted with a 1.6-litre TDI diesel, which does 119g/km CO2 emissions and 61.4mpg. This is far from awful, but it's also a long way from best in class. The Nissan Qashqai 1.5 dCi, for example, will do 98g/km of CO2 and 74.3mpg. The best selling engines in the Yeti range are the 1.2 TSI petrol and the 2.0-litre turbo diesel. Skoda managed to wring a bit of extra efficiency out of both these engines with the recent facelift, but they’re still pretty costly to run. The petrol engine emits 142g/km CO2 and does 46.3mpg and the diesel does 134g/km CO2 and 55.4mpg. Be warned: efficiency isn’t as good on Yeti Outdoor models with four-wheel drive.
Interior & comfort
Seats are comfortable and there’s plenty of space but the ride is firm
The Yeti's boxy dimensions may mean that it doesn’t look as sleek and sporty as many of its rivals, but it gives it a lot of interior space. Three adults can sit comfortably across the back seats with plenty of head and legroom as a result. The seats are supportive and comfortable, too, but the Yeti does suffer from quite a firm ride. It's not so bad that you notice it on well maintained roads, but you’ll definitely notice a jolt when driving over potholes. The diesel engines are a little noisy under acceleration, but stay pretty quiet while cruising – and the petrol engine is nice and quiet. You do get a bit of wind noise at higher speeds, but it's not overly intrusive, so the Yeti is reasonably relaxing on long drives.
Practicality & boot space
The Yeti has a large boot, spacious interior and brilliantly practical seating system
Like all Skodas, the Yeti prioritises practicality and functionality over design. So while it may look a little plain on the outside, it's brilliantly useable on the inside. The boxy looks aren’t particularly fashionable these days, when impractical but sporty-looking swooping roof lines are very much in favour, but they do mean that there's a huge amount of interior space. Passengers are not going to find themselves short of head or legroom. And the Yeti comes with the Varioflex seating system that is also found on the Skoda Roomster MPV. The rear seats are individual, rather a one-piece bench, and can be individually slid, folded and entirely removed depending on your need for space. This makes the load area massively flexible and means the Yeti is one of the most versatile cars on the market. The boot is big, too, with 416 litres of luggage capacity – more than you’ll find in the Nissan Qashqai. And the Yeti is capable of towing braked weights between 670kg and 750kg, too. Four-wheel drive Outdoor models are also excellent off-road and come equipped with hill descent control.
Reliability & safety
Customers rate it as the most satisfying car to own in the UK
It's impossible to fault the Yeti when it comes to reliability - it was rated the UK's most satisfying car to own in the 2013 and 2012 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, and came second in the 2011 results, losing out narrowly to the Skoda Superb. It's incredibly rare for owners to deliver such rave reviews and stands as a testament to the excellent quality and reliability offered by the Yeti. Skoda as a brand has also done consistently well in Driver Power. It topped the manufacturer chart for years, and came second to Lexus in the 2013 results – which is an incredible track record for a budget brand. The Yeti also has flawless safety credentials – it scored the maximum five stars in the Euro NCAP crash tests. It comes fitted with six airbags, anti-lock brakes, and electronic stability control as standard.
Engines, drive & performance
Surprisingly car-like to drive and 4x4 Outdoor models are capable off-roaders
You can have the Yeti as either standard front-wheel drive or in Outdoor 4x4 guise and each version has several levels of specification. Both models come in S, SE, and Elegance spec (and each of those can be had with the efficient Greenline II engine). But Outdoor models also get a spec level above Elegance called L&K. All versions of the Yeti have accurate steering, a great manual gearbox and easy-to-use controls. The DSG automatic gearbox is also really good, but it does reduce fuel economy and efficiency. One of the best things about the Yeti is that it feels like a car to drive, it's nimble and turns in to corners easily, and is a decent motorway cruiser, too. The 104bhp 1.2-litre petrol engine is excellent and would be our recommendation.
The diesel engines are very capable but are a little noisy under acceleration and don’t offer much more power – although the 1.6-litre diesel in the Greenline models does offer better economy, and will be your best bet if you clock up a lot of miles. The 4x4 system in Outdoor models is very good, too, and allows the Yeti to cope with difficult terrain better than most rivals and as well as many bigger SUVs.
Price, value for money & options
Good value compared to rivals and decent equipment levels
When Skoda gave the Yeti a refresh at the end of 2013 it removed the entry-level E spec level. That, combined with a small price rise, means that the Yeti doesn’t offer quite as good value for money as it used to. It's still competitively priced compared to rivals, though and equipment levels are good. S models come with manual air-con, the Varioflex seating system, 16-inch alloys, daytime running lights, and front fog lights. SE models get dual zone air-con, 17-inch alloys, cruise control, rear parking sensors and a CD player with MP3 compatibility. Elegance models get full leather upholstery, heated front seats, hill-hold control and LED daytime running lights. Skodas also have decent resale values, as the brand is steadily becoming increasingly desirable and the Yeti in particular is highly in demand.
What the others say
"This is the entry-level 1.2-litre TSI model, which has done away with the firm's clever 4x4 system. Skoda predicts that 70 per cent of Yetis sold will be front-wheel-drive versions, such as this. And from behind the wheel it's easy to see why. The 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol engine is smooth and lively, and the six-speed manual transmission is slick and refined."
"Two-wheel drive Yetis are attractively priced and hold their value well, but the four-wheel drive models look quite pricey. Fuel economy is good for most models; our pick of the range, the 1.2 TSI, averages 44.1mpg, while the four-wheel drive diesel versions all manage over 45mpg."
"Well built, decent to drive, economical and practical – there's a lot to like about the Yeti. Look out Qashqai, Skoda has you in its sights."
Last updated: 10 Feb 2014