Yeti 4X4 – Pretty impressive, but the price is snow joke


By Philip Hedderman

The Skoda Yeti was supposed to be a lot of things – pretty isn’t one of them.

Now, for some that would mean the end of the world but thankfully the folks over at the Czech Car giant aren’t that vacuous or shallow.

They recognise, and to some degree cherish mamma’s old phrase – “It what’s on the inside that counts.”

Oh, and how right they were.

You see, the Yeti whether designed that way or simply an engineering fluke –  is all about family values.

It’s neither a car, SUV nor MPV and the best way to describe it as an SMPV with a car-like drive.

I’m sure the fabulous talent behind hybrid names like Jedward could come up with a better acronym, but you’ll just have to bear with me.

Now, we were already highly impressed by the bog standard Yeti which has the perfect mix of comfort, space and quality ride.

First the comfort.

For a vehicle that is shaped like a mini van the space inside (both leg and elbow room) is amazing.

Thanks to the VARIOFlex seating solutions all three of the pews in the rear move forwards, backwards and sideways.

And it that’s not enough you can remove them completely turning the already ample 410 litres of boot space into a gargantuan 1,760 litres.

Brilliantly easy to operate, the mere pull of a couple of levers and three seats turn into two which is especially useful if one passenger is infirm.

The elevated driving position too proved a godsend as my elderly mum (who suffered a broken hip and walks with the aid of a stick) found a joy.

Instead of climbing in and out she simply sat and swivelled around and because the door opening is so wide she didn’t have to lift ‘the bad leg’.

That feature alone would prompt me to buy one.

The quality and build of the cabin is second to none with every switch, knob and button made with Tonka Toy durability.

Skoda didn’t skimp on standard kit either.

The 2.0 litre TDI Ambition model we tested came fully-loaded with 17’inch alloys, cruise control, sat nav, Bluetooth, cornering front fog lights, touch screen infotainment system,  climate control  and leather multi-function steering wheel.

And to make her even more swish the Press crew threw in a full top-to-toe panoramic sunroof, silver side steps, silver front bumper guard and upgraded Annapurna alloys.

Suited and booted, it looked mighty but we only had one thing on our minds – the drive.

We are now in 4-Wheel Drive country and the big question is whether she’s worth the extra €7,340 for something you can’t see?

First the technical bit.

The always on, all-wheel drive works almost like an advanced traction control unit only this one is located in the rear and is called the Haldlex inter axle clutch.

So how does it work?

Basically, through a series of sensors in the engine and steering, information is fed into the Haldex unit in the back axle which then distributes the power accordingly.

For example;

In normal driving conditions the majority of power is delivered to the front wheels (96%) and 4% to the rear.

Should things suddenly change and you begin to lose grip at the front,  the clutch diverts torque to the rear (90%) and 10% front.

On surfaces like snow or gravel, power is evenly transmitted (25%) to all 4 corners.

In the event that there is a poor response on one side only traction is divided up with 85% going to the unaffected side and 5% the rest.

Now, if you don’t trust it to kick in on its own the new Yeti has an Off Road button which will activate all of that techno wizardery at the flick of a switch.

This is especially effective when doing every day kind of driving like steep inclines, uneven or slippery surfaces and hill descent.

Should you find yourself driving up a mountain like we did (Slieve Martin in the Mournes to be precise) the Off-Road button restricts the engine revs to 2,500rpm to stop over acceleration while preventing the car from rolling back.

It also greatly improves grip on low adhesion surfaces by adjusting the ASR to manage the extra torque on the driving wheels.

But coming back down on leaf bedded forest track is where you see the benefits.

Hill descent is often more dangerous but again the Yeti works its magic.

Stable speed is maintained on the way down while the ABS is recalibrated for longer locking of braked wheel (to allow for the surface material pushed before the wheel to create its own braking effect).

In some instances the wheels may brake individualy (depending on the conditions) while at the same time maintaining traction.

I know it sounds complicated but it works wonderfully with little or no fuss.

Its easy on the pocket too.

The uber efficient diesel whacks out a very impressive 170bhp while returning 45mpg (5.9 litres/100km) and resides in Tax Band A which means €330 annual road tax.

So it ticks all the right boxes bar the pretty one and the only real blemish on an otherwise fabulous model is the price.

It really is hard to justify the nearly €10,000 premium (Style pack with roof and alloys costs €1,995) on an already very capable, very likable, if not peculiar little car.

Prices for the Skoda Yeti 4X4 starts at €30,045.