The trophy cabinet at Skoda HQ must be creaking under the weight of all the accolades that the Yeti has picked up since it debuted at the Geneva motor show in 2009. The once-maligned manufacturer had pulled off that rare old feat of making a ‘crossover’ (a car which shares the characteristics of both a 4x4 and a standard car) which by all accounts, is good-looking, practical, and jolly good fun to drive too.
We’ve got our hands on the Greenline II version, which Skoda reckons will do upwards of 60 mpg because of efficiency-boosting tweaks like longer gear ratios, stop-start technology, slightly lowered ride and various weight-saving measures. But do the modifications compromise the Yeti’s acclaimed blend of fun and function?
It’s not a traditionally ‘pretty’ car, but the Yeti has a chunky, utilitarian charm. While it certainly looks capable of off-road shenanigans, this version of the Yeti has only front-wheel drive, making it far more suited to navigating the suburban jungle than ploughing a route through muddy fields. Four wheel drive is available in other versions in the range though, and the Yeti has proven itself to be an adept performer in this department. No wonder it’s acquired such a big cult following.
What’s apparent immediately is the general feel of sturdiness - the doors open and shut with a satisfying thunk, and everything from the steering wheel to the air conditioning and stereo controls feel reassuringly weighty.
The cabin of the Yeti is a pretty good place to spend long arduous drives. The high-spec Elegance trim in which our Greenline II arrived in packs an impressive amount of kit – the only option aside from the £65 floor mats was the solid and easy-to-use satellite navigation system, which dominates the central dash without becoming too much of a distraction. The leather seats offer a good blend of squishiness and support, and visibility is very good.
There are plenty of neat, clever touches throughout the cabin– there are cubbyholes aplenty and a studded rubber flooring on the storage nooks prevent your phone, iPod or other gubbins from flying around the cabin unexpectedly. Connecting these aforementioned systems via Bluetooth is a doddle, while if you want to save your portable music device’s battery, there’s a more traditional aux-in option too, located under the central armrest. It would have been nice to see some proper connectivity, which would allow you to charge your device and select music from the steering wheel though.
In the back, there’s plenty of room for passengers (even larger ones can be transported in comfort) while the boot has handy hooks to hang shopping bags from and cargo nets, which are brilliant for avoiding the fuss of groceries spilling all over the place. Transit-induced bruised fruit may well be a thing of the past…
If you’re after even more space, the Yeti’s Varioflex seating system can swell the amount of room you’ve got to play with up to 1,760 litres – and it’s not too much trouble to do, either.
Opting for a raised-up crossover-style car over a regular one means some compromises in regards to handling, with increased roll when turning. But the Yeti corners better than you might think – you certainly won’t want to be throwing it around with gay abandon, but it’s nimble for a car its size.
Power never feels in particularly short supply, even with the Greenline II’s modest 105bhp 1.6 litre diesel engine. It’ll be powerful enough for most – progress never feels overly sluggish, but if you’re after a bit more welly, then the 170hp 2.0 TDI or 1.4 litre petrol options might give you a better fix.
It’s worth noting at this point that the Yeti’s horn is easily the best we’ve ever had the pleasure of using – a rich, sonorous toot, it lends itself just as well to expressing annoyance at fellow motorists as it does offering a friendly greeting to a passing friend or acquaintance.
Those 61mpg+ claims made by Skoda are mightily impressive, but as with all manufacturers’ figures, claimed fuel economy and the real-world figures fall short. Over the course of the week, we averaged around 50mpg – still a figure not to be sniffed at. Despite the Yeti’s green credentials, it still produces well over the 100 g/km co2 emissions threshold which would make it exempt from Vehicle Excise Duty or the London Congestion Charge, but its 119 g/km figure means that VED is only £30 a year.
The crossover market is turning into something of a bunfight, and there’s plenty of variety in the small to mid-range market: from the Nissan Juke (starting from around £13,000) and it's bigger brother, the Qashqai (from £16,500) to the Volvo XC60 (starting at around £26,000). There’s also to the Volkswagen Tiguan, which starts at around £21,000. But you’ll have to go a long way to beat the Yeti as an all-round package.
A car seemingly purpose-built for life lived at the fullest – great fun, reassuringly sturdy and economical to boot.
We like Chunky looks, big and versatile load space, quality feel, good economy
We don’t like Lacking a bit of welly, front-wheel drive only, lack of built-in MP3 player charging system
Skoda Yeti GreenLine II Elegance:
At a glance Price as tested: £21,940
Engine: 1.6 litre TDi
Power: 105 bhp
0-60mph: 12.1 secs
Top Speed: 109 mph
Economy: 61.4 mpg (Claimed)
Emissions: 119g CO2/km Euro
NCAP Safety Rating: Five stars
Our Yeti came with the following optional extras: Floor mats, satellite navigation.Mulling over a Yeti? Then see how much it might cost to get insured with Gocompare.com's car insurance comparison service.