From Mystery Machine to monster success – the Yeti case is finally solved

By Philip Hedderman

Somewhere in the Czech Republic is a design office and in it resides the world’s biggest Scooby Doo fan.

I suspect his computer password is ‘Shaggy’ and at the weekends he goes for long spins in the Mystery Machine.

I’d even hazard a guess that his better half is called Velma, Daphne, or erm, Fred.

The man we’re talking about works for Skoda and in 2009 his two worlds of fantasy and reality collided.

While daydreaming of his favourite episode featuring the Abominable Snowman, marketing execs were anxiously trawling through possible names for their first entry into the SUV market.

In a moment of boredom he blurted out the name and quicker than you could say “zoikes” the Yeti was born.

Now like its namesake, there are several versions of how it actually came about and no one is quite sure which is true.

All we know is it’s out there – and causing absolute havoc in the automotive world.

The quirky van-like creature already has a cabinet full of awards including the prestigious Auto Express Car of the Year last year and even scooped a coveted off road gong.

Not bad going for one so young – less than two years in fact.

So, just what is it about this curious looking little carriage?

The reason is simple, or three simple things.

Firstly, build quality.

Like Skoda’s fleet leader the Superb, the all-round finish and feel to the car is one of premium.

Every switch, knob, piece of fabric (on in my case leather) and touchable surround like the dash and central console is positively upmarket – something you’d expect in much more expensive marques.

Secondly is its versatility.

Not only is this a family runaround, it also doubles as a mini van.

With the rear seats out, high roof and low sill, it makes makes carrying awkward loads a whole lot easier.

But its real trump card is its SUV credentials.

A proper fully paid-up member of the off road club (4X4 model is available) its high ground clearance and front wheel drive will ensure you get the kids to school even if there is an inch of snow on the M50.

Thirdly – its the economy, stupid.

Actually, it’s called the Greenline and it boasts a very impressive set of figures.

The 1.6 litre diesel engine is so eco friendly it generates CO2 of 119g/km which means it costs just €104 a year in road tax, while returning almost 60mpg or (4.4L per 100km).

Very impressive for a powerplant which kicks out 105bhp, hitting 0-100 kph in just over 12 seconds.

In order to keep you a darker shade of green, the Yeti is equipped with a range of little helpers including Stop-Start System which cuts the engine when stopped to save fuel.

Recommended gear change indicator to remind when to kick up or down, low resistance tyres, and Brake Energy Regeneration which tucks away extra power in the battery for use at a later stage to reduce stress on the alternator.

It’s heaving with safety features too including 7 airbags as standard with curtain and driver knee bag, all kept in check by the Electronic Stability System.

So, on paper it ticks all the right boxes but how does she fare in the real jungle, namely rush hour, the schoolrun and the once a month trip ‘down’t country’ to visit Granny.

Fantastically well, thanks to its high driving position and car-like feel and because of the bold and rugged design the family felt safe and secure.

There is plenty of grunt in the diesel and performed admirably both on city streets and pothole riddled boreens of the north east.

Steering was precise and the anticipated body roll that you’d expect with higher centre of gravity never really surfaced.

On longer motorway spins the absence of a sixth gear was noticeable and at steady speeds of 120kph the engine was labouring unnecessarily.

My biggest bugbear though was the remote control central locking which nearly drove me bonkers.

In order to open all the doors one had to press the unlock button twice.

On nearly every occasion it defied me and I ended up, sometimes in the rain standing pointing the fob and pressing furiously only to lock and start all over again.

This wouldn’t happen on the Mystery Machine especially with an ape-like creature in hot pursuit.

Prices for the Yeti range start at €22,330.

The engine range consists of a 1.2 Litre, 105bhp petrol, the 1.6 litre, 105bhp Greenline and three 2.0 litre diesels (110/140/170bhp 4X4 ).

There are three different specs Active, Ambition and Experience to choose from.

The car tested today was the Yeti Greenline 1.6 TDi Experience which cost €26,235.