Drive – Skoda Yeti 77TSI Review

10 Jun 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on Drive – Skoda Yeti 77TSI Review

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Pros

Spacious body with heaps of headroom

Clever folding rear seats

Frugal engine

Plenty of storage options

Cons

Engine struggles

Tall gearing means you’ll be busy swapping cogs

Calls for premium unleaded

Bland interior presentation

Standing out from the compact-SUV crowd is no easy feat in 2012. There are more than 20 offerings already vying for the attention of singles, couples and families who like the high-riding stance and flexible nature of the 21st-century family wagon.

But Skoda has made a move to come out swinging with a quirky-looking round-edged box that shares its name with the Abominable Snowman.

Meet the Yeti, which brings the usual assortment of Volkswagen components but with the bonus of a healthy dose of Czech Republic design differentiation.

In diesel form, the Yeti took out its category in Drive’s Car of the Year awards in 2011. For this test we’ve grabbed the petrol model, which plays in a different price bracket, albeit without the diesel’s four-wheel-drive system and some of its goodies.

Price and equipment

Skoda has never skimped on standard gear and it’s no different with the Yeti. Cruise control, Bluetooth, a trip computer, alloy wheels, power windows and an above-average sound system are all part of the sharply priced $26,290 deal (plus on-road costs) for the six-speed manual.

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Throw in a seven-speed twin-clutch auto and it’ll add $2300, while there’s a list of options that include everything from foglights and parking sensors to a panoramic sunroof and satellite navigation that incorporates an on-board hard drive for downloading your music directly to the car.

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For another $390 you can also choose to paint the roof in a contrasting colour, such as white or black, which will add to the odd headlight arrangement (with circular ones intersecting with rectangular ones) in making the Yeti stand out.

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Safety comes in the form of seven airbags and stability control, enough to help it earn a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating.

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Those wanting more gear can step up to the diesel version of the Yeti, which adds almost $10,000 to the price but brings lots more toys.

Under the bonnet

Unlike the rest of the Yeti, what’s under the bonnet is tiny – the four-cylinder engine measures just 1.2 litres. A turbo brings more puff than would otherwise be expected but the maximum power is still a modest 77kW.

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Combine that with the 1.4-tonne weight of the Yeti and it’s not a pretty equation. Acceleration is leisurely and the little engine struggles up hills, prompting plenty of downchanges with the six-speed manual. Sure, the turbo works hard but the weight ultimately wins this battle and the Yeti feels underdone.

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The winner is fuel economy, which is frugal at a claimed 6.6 litres per 100 kilometres – but you’ll have to feed it a more expensive premium unleaded brew.

How it drives

The Yeti may ride higher than your average small hatchback but it doesn’t feel as roly-poly as some.

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The suspension is well sorted and does a good job of recovering from bumps, all without being the smoothest rider in its class. It feels secure in a bigger-car way, with decent steering feel and a respectable amount of grip.

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Don’t go venturing off-road in the petrol model, though, because the diesel’s 4WD system is missing, meaning it only drives the front wheels.

Comfort and practicality

What the list of equipment can’t tell you is the presentation and functionality of the interior, which in the Yeti’s case is a mix of good and bad.

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Kicking off the bad is the overall appearance which, with a mass of dark plastics, borders on dour. But the good is that it’s all very impressively spacious and user friendly, with the exception of the ventilation controls that sit so low on the upright dash you can’t see the lower symbols.

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A binnacle on top of the dash can hold small bags, phones and other odds and ends, while there’s storage forward and aft of the gearstick. A small covered centre console can keep valuables out of sight, while large door pockets are good for water bottles and anything else for which you haven’t found a home.

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Headroom is superb in the front and rear (you could wear a top hat), while the clever split-folding rear seats make it easy to juggle between people and luggage, including bulky items such as push bikes.

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