BUYERS GUIDE - SOFT-ROADERS
If true to its name the Yeti should have been launched on the snowy slopes of the Himalayas, but the deep sand of Australia’s Finke River served just as well to demonstrate this new wagon’s considerable ability.
When Skoda announced that the Yeti 4WD would be launched to the national press on a trek to Boggy Hole – an aptly named MacDonnell Ranges site in the upper reaches of the Finke River, near Alice Springs – we were surprised: a ‘softroader’ being asked to handle conditions that test many hard-core 4WD vehicles.
Needless to say, the slick VW/Skoda marketing machine made it happen, but there were boggings and recovery operations aplenty.
The demanding trek encompassed a high-speed bitumen drive along Larapinta Drive to the Ellery Creek turnoff, just east of Hermannsburg. From there the vehicles travelled on rough dirt tracks to the dry creek bed and then paralleled and criss-crossed it to the junction with The Finke. Track conditions then became very demanding, with deep sand, large river stones and steep banks to conquer.
The Skoda Yeti convoy did surprisingly well in the tough conditions.
Although very few potential Yeti customers would contemplate such a trip, the exercise did highlight the enviable toughness of this little wagon. Given the Yeti’s relatively low ground clearance it was inevitable that the bog-standard test vehicles grounded on river stones and rolled them along their underbodies.
Inspection showed no damage at all to specially-formulated reinforced fibreglass underbody protection plates that are fitted to all Yetis. Mufflers are often vulnerable, but the Yetis’ are tucked away behind protective rear suspension components.
In the on and off road driving we did the Skoda Yeti 4WD proved to be a responsive machine that handled, steered and braked sweetly. Noise levels were low and vision front and rear was excellent. The seats were supportive and control ergonomics were first class.
The transition to 4WD was undetectable and the DSG worked well as a manual or auto box. Pity there are reliability questions over the VW-designed DSG transmission.
So we know this softroader is well-behaved and tough, but how does the rest of the specification stand up?
There are currently two 4WD Yeti models: a petrol 1.8-litre and a diesel two-litre. The diesel is an obvious choice for touring and this 103kW/320Nm engine couples to a six-speed manual or a six-speed DSG. Given the issues with DSGs we’d choose the manual. Drive to the rear axle is via fourth-generation Haldex electronic clutch unit.
The two-litre diesel complies with Euro 4 regs, by way of a diesel particulate filter and has claimed fuel consumption figures between 5.5L/100km (extra urban cycle with six-speed manual) and 7.8L/100km (urban cycle with six-speed DSG). CO2 emissions are said to be 162g/km for the manual box and 174g/km for the auto.
Regardless of engine and driveline choice all Yetis are five-door wagons, based on the Octavia Scout platform, but with suspension height increases of 70mm at the front and 90mm at the rear. All have seven airbags, electronic stability control, ABS and EBD braking, ASR and hill-holding function, air conditioning, tinted windows, CD and MP3 with input jack, Bluetooth, height and reach adjustable steering, cruise control, trip computer, roof rails and Skoda’s VarioFlex seating system.
The diesel 4WD model scores all the above, plus 17-inch aluminium wheels in lieu of 16-inchers, FRP underbody protection plates, fog lamps, auto lights and wipers, dual-zone climate control, CD stacker, hill descent control and electronic ‘diff lock’ EDL function. (EDL is not in fact a differential lock, but if one wheel rotates 100+rpm more than the other the EDL system momentarily brakes it.)
Options on all Yetis include coloured roof panel choices, a panoramic sunroof, front and rear parking sensors, park assist, HID headlights, cornering lights, heated front seats and leather upholstery.
The VarioFlex seating system provides unrivalled flexibility in the second row, with the option of three across; three-across with the outer seats varied in leg length; two-across with the centre seat folded forward to make a table top; two-across with the outer seats slid inwards to improve shoulder room in both seats; all three half-folded forward; all three folded completely forward; only one seat remaining in the second row; and all three removed. No tools are required for any of these operations.
The cargo area is provided with lashing hooks and shopping bag holders and a cargo net restrain system.
RRPs start at $32,990 for the petrol manual and top out at $37,990 for the diesel DSG.