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Driven: Skoda Yeti Outdoor. Image by Skoda.

Driven: Skoda Yeti Outdoor
Saying goodbye to a car that's getting on a bit, but which is still marvellous: the Skoda Yeti.

 



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Skoda Yeti Outdoor

4 4 4 4 4

Good points: distinctive styling looks as fresh as it did in 2009, lots of kit on SE L, composed driving manners.

Not so good: interior is now starting to show its age, expensive at 27k, due to be replaced in 2017.

Key Facts

Model tested: Skoda Yeti Outdoor SE L 2.0 TDI SCR 150 4x4
Price: Outdoor from 17,610; SE L 2.0 TDI 4x4 from 24,875; car as tested 27,045
Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel
Transmission: all-wheel drive, six-speed manual
Body style: five-door, five-seat crossover
CO2 emissions: 134g/km (Band E, 130 VED annually, if registered before April 1, 2017; 200 first 12 months, 140 annually thereafter, if registered after April 1, 2017)
Combined economy: 55.4mpg
Top speed: 121mph
0-62mph: 9.1 seconds
Power: 150hp at 3,500- to 4,000rpm
Torque: 340Nm at 1,750- to 3,000rpm

Our view:

Sometimes, there are a number of reasons why a manufacturer doesn't replace a model as soon as it possibly could or should. Maybe money is tight and the company has to try and keep an old machine going for as long as it possibly can on a shoestring budget. Maybe it's a niche product that sells in a rarefied marketplace (Bentley Continental GT, we're looking at you) where longevity is seen as a selling point. Or maybe, just maybe, the manufacturer got the recipe so right in the first place that it is reluctant to change it, for fear of having a 'New Coke'-type incident where customers emphatically do not prefer your 'improved, even better taste'.

Skoda's Yeti is a prime exponent of this last scenario. It has been around since 2009 now and will be replaced, by something looking like a shrunken Kodiaq, during 2017 - fully eight years after launch. That, in mainstream car terms, is positively ancient. And yet, somehow, the Yeti feels like it could still soldier on for a good stretch into the future. It's been one of our favourite cars in the class ever since it first arrived, thanks to its idiosyncratic styling, clever and generally massive interior and grown-up driving manners, and we wanted to see how much of that capability it had preserved into its dotage.

Well, we can report that nothing much has changed. A week with a high-ranking Yet Outdoor was less of a chance to drive a new and exciting addition to the crossover/SUV landscape and more of an opportunity to spend some precious time with a much-loved car that's soon to depart the automotive landscape. Considering its imminent demise, we still come to the conclusion that - despite the presence of newer, better-equipped and sharper driving vehicles in the segment - there are few competitors that possess such strong all-round appeal as the Yeti.

It still looks fantastic. That 'Postman Pat's van' profile is its calling card, a striking and unapologetic feature that is sure to be divisive - we know there are people who will despise it - but at least it's not blandly inoffensive. The Yeti continues to stand out, despite being a familiar shape in 2016, and it can look really upmarket depending on specification.

The interior is less convincing, mainly because the Skoda's cabin architecture is starting to creak with age. The monochrome driver information display looks bog basic in the TFT era, the stacked centre console array is fairly uninspiring and the rhino-skin material on the dash top is a bit iffy. However, of course we can leap to the Skoda's defence here with some counter-arguments. It is massive inside, the boot is gigantic and a great shape with a low loading lip and there are plenty of toys on the SE L, even though it's not the range-topping specification - the standard equipment roster includes (among further items) a three-spoke multifunction leather steering wheel, Bolero 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment, bi-Xenon headlights with a cornering function and dynamic angle control, LED daytime running lamps, cruise control, split-zone climate, leather upholstery with heated front seats, rear parking sensors and a wealth of electronic driver aids for both on- and off-road motoring.

A minor black mark against the Yeti Outdoor is its 27,045 tag as tested. It achieved this figure by having the 150hp/340Nm 2.0-litre diesel engine and four-wheel drive, putting it near the top of the drivetrain tree for the line-up. Then, aside from upgraded paint on the outside, this Yeti's Bolero infotainment had been upgraded to Amundsen touchscreen satnav with DAB and voice control, for 755. A further 350 equipped front parking sensors in addition to the rear set-up, a heated windscreen necessitated another 300, while a space saving spare wheel (150) and textile floor mats (80) rounded out the kit list.

So the fact this Yeti cost comfortably in excess of 25,000, for a car that is doomed to extinction within the year, could be construed as being way too expensive, considering the fresher alternatives on offer elsewhere. Nevertheless, we had the Skoda immediately after a 30,000+ SEAT Ateca with exactly the same drivetrain - and impressive as the Spanish SUV was, we certainly didn't feel the Yeti Outdoor was completely outclassed by its much newer, much shinier cousin.

Like the Ateca, the Yeti has a rich, quiet composure about it that is deeply satisfying. It takes no effort at all to drive it smoothly, efficiently and comfortably, and if you decide you do want to up the pace then don't for a minute think the Skoda's slab-sided, top-hat appearance results in a car that is a rolling mess in the corners. Body control is far more competent than you might expect, while the steering is nicely weighted and pleasingly precise. Strangely, the lighter-than-the-Ateca 1,475kg Yeti didn't feel anything like as pacey as the SEAT, but it is more than punchy enough for daily driving and, despite its rather un-aerodynamic shape, we got 41.6mpg from 312 miles without once going on a long, constant-speed run to help massage its economy figure. Furthermore, we never experienced the same intermittent ride quality issues with this 66-plate Skoda as we did on the launch of the facelifted Greenline II variant back in 2014. Indeed, the Yeti Outdoor felt every bit as good as either of the current Octavia or Superb Skodas in terms of its general refinement and cultured demeanour, some accolade to foist upon something that isn't MQB-derived.

A blinding performance from the old-timer, then, but is there any good reason to buy the MkI Yeti? We know an all-new Yeti is on the way and we assume it will be brilliant. The styling will be the big issue, as the Czech outfit has made no real secret of the fact the Yeti MkII will be very close in appearance to the Kodiaq, as we mentioned earlier in the piece; no bad thing, of course, as the Kodiaq is handsome enough (as is all of Skoda's range, barring the bizarre 'split-lights' facelift of the previously lovely Octavia MkIII), but there are a lot of people who are fans of the Yeti's particularly upright appearance.

So maybe that's the reason to sink your money into a vehicle with impending obsolescence built in. The new version will be undoubtedly excellent, but has to conform to the rest of Skoda's product styling - the outgoing model is therefore the truly individual machine, the one that has won plenty of fans to date; a Yeti 'Classic', if you will. And, as a week with this Outdoor has proved, there's plenty of life in the old Yeti yet.

Alternatives:

Dacia Duster: ostensibly starts at a fiver less than ten grand, making the Skoda look bloody pricey, but a four-wheel-drive diesel Dacia is 14,495. Still cheap, but it really feels it in comparison to a Yeti.

Kia Soul: great warranty and similar shape to the Yeti makes the Kia tempting, although it doesn't have any of the Skoda's genuine off-road ability as the Soul is front-wheel drive only.

Suzuki Vitara: at its best in the most powerful petrol 'S' guise, as the 4x4 models being surprisingly light and therefore great to drive. Interior quality is a few pegs behind the ageing Skoda, though.


Matt Robinson - 28 Dec 2016









  www.skoda.co.uk    - Skoda road tests
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2016 Skoda Yeti Outdoor. Image by Skoda.2016 Skoda Yeti Outdoor. Image by Skoda.2016 Skoda Yeti Outdoor. Image by Skoda.2016 Skoda Yeti Outdoor. Image by Skoda.2016 Skoda Yeti Outdoor. Image by Skoda.

2016 Skoda Yeti Outdoor. Image by Skoda.2016 Skoda Yeti Outdoor. Image by Skoda.2016 Skoda Yeti Outdoor. Image by Skoda.2016 Skoda Yeti Outdoor. Image by Skoda.2016 Skoda Yeti Outdoor. Image by Skoda.








 

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