2014 Skoda Yeti India first drive
The Yeti is probably the most unique Skoda on offer in India, it's a car with a split personality. It drives like a road car and if needed can be driven off the road too. Its compact dimensions make it easy to drive around in the city while a balanced chassis brings a smile to the face when driven enthusiastically too. Now the only real downer with the Yeti is the price it retails at and the fact that there is no automatic transmission variant on offer. The SUV also doesn't gel well with the Skoda family in terms of styling, with the Superb just recently receiving an update while the Octavia is now a new generation model. The Czech carmaker however did finally update the SUV internationally and is now bringing the same model to India.
Mechanically, the new Yeti is still the same car as the old one (on the left)
Skoda says that the update is more than just a facelift, but the changes are cosmetic while the SUV now gets some much needed features too. Mechanically, the Yeti is still the same car, the only change being the new Haldex clutch in the 4x4 model, the fifth generation system gets a few tweaks and the entire unit is now lighter too, but out there in the real world we couldn't really tell the difference between the current and outgoing model in terms of driving feel or off-road performance.
In terms of design, the Yeti retains that boxy and compact exterior but now gets a new face more in line with the current Skoda design theme. The biggest change being the new headlamps that now seem to be more angular like the Superb and more like the Octavia. The regular halogen bulbs have been replaced with bi-xenon projector lighting with adaptive lighting similar to the Yeti's siblings. A daytime running lamp in the form of a nice LED strip runs at the bottom of the headlamp like in the Octavia. This gives it a true Skoda identity even in the dark. The grille too is the new angular family design, to accommodate these newer design changes, the bonnet has been changed too. Prominent lines run down all the way from the top and neatly merge on to the new Skoda logo sitting in the grille.
The outgoing Yeti's circular fog lamps mimicked 4x4 style spot lamps and were placed close to the headlamps, in the new model the lamp moves to the conventional position like in all other cars
The front bumper features prominent lines around the new fog lamps that also house cornering lamps. The outgoing Yeti's circular fog lamps mimicked 4x4 style spot lamps and were placed close to the headlamps, in the new model the lamp moves to the conventional position like in all other cars. The older position and design did give the SUV some character that this updated model lacks. However, the off-roader element is present in the form of a large contrasting bumper extension that looks more like a proper bash plate until you realise it isn't really made of metal when you look at it closely.The new face also means a new fender had to be designed, since it now had to accommodate the new headlamp and bumper. Skoda designers have therefore tweaked the arch bulge to make it look more prominent and aggressive.
The rear end like in the front, features new lighting in the form of LEDs but the design is similar to the outgoing Yeti's, only the layout of the lights has changed
From the side, apart from the new front fender there isn't really much to distinguish the new Yeti from the old one. The alloy wheels are all-new and the designs differ for the 4x2 and 4x4 models. The Yeti also features a new contrasting roof colour which is prominent when viewed from this angle. The rear end, like in the front, features new lighting in the form of LEDs but the design is similar, only the layout of the lights changes. The bootlid has been tweaked too, there are two distinct diagonal lines next to the number plate, this is a typical Skoda design detail now seen across the entire range. The bumper is now more body coloured and also features contrasting cladding that is much larger than before.
The centre display in the instrument cluster is also new and displays settings and driving data. Note the new steering wheel
Step inside and the cabin feels familiar. Look closer and you will notice the new steering wheel that has been borrowed from the Superb, gone is the old four-spoke wheel and in comes the three-spoke unit. It is better to grip than before, the stereo and other controls are easily accessible as well. The centre display in the instrument cluster is also new and displays settings and driving data. The dual-tone interior features the same brown-black combination as before. The touchscreen stereo is a different one and similar to the unit seen in the Superb, it is a generation older than that featured in the Octavia but still offers Bluetooth connectivity and a parking sensor display. Cabin space hasn't changed, so it still is a comfortable four-seater. A fifth passenger can be seated too but the floor isn't flat while it isn't really the most comfortable with the added passenger, the centre section of the rest seat can also be folded down to access an armrest for both rear passengers as well as two cup holders. Boot space isn't a lot, 416 litres to be exact. But with the seats folded forward, it increases to 1485 litres and if you remove the rear seats completely you can free up another 180 litres of space. The boot also features a 12V socket like before. There are a lot of storage places too, like the cooled storage compartment under the armrest, storage under the front seat, concealed compartment on the top of the dashboard and bottle holders both in the front and back.
Engine and transmission
The 4x4 model gets more power than the 4x2's 110PS, with a max power of 140PS at 4,200rpm while torque is an impressive 320Nm available from 1,750 to 2,500rpm
As I mentioned before, the Yeti doesn't receive any mechanical change other than the newer Haldex clutch in the 4x4 model. The 2.0-litre TDI is still the engine of choice. The 4x4 model gets more power though - a max power of 140PS is produced at 4,200rpm while torque is an impressive 320Nm available from 1,750 to 2,500rpm. The 4x2 model in comparison produces a lower 110PS at the same engine speed while 250Nm of torque is on tap from a lower 1,500 to 2,500rpm. The engine is a reliable unit and is refined too, it is tuned well to go with the all-round purpose of the Yeti. The 4x2 Yeti does feel slightly less powerful on the road but is sufficient power. Turbo lag from both the engines is minimal but the 140PS motor climbs up revs quicker than the 110PS. Skoda has confirmed that the Yeti will be only offered with a manual transmission. So if you are waiting for an automatic SUV, then look elsewhere. In terms of efficiency, the 4x2 returns 17.72kmpl and the 4x4 Yeti returns a slightly lower 17.67kmpl, impressive considering the vehicle features a permanent four-wheel drive.
The 140PS Yeti gets a 6-speed manual gearbox with the 4x4 label
One of the positives of the Yeti is ride quality, this updated version drives exactly like the outgoing model
One of the positives of the Yeti is ride quality, this updated version drives exactly like the outgoing model. The suspension soaks up bumps and potholes very well and as a result, the passengers inside are a lot more comfortable. The front suspension is a MacPherson setup while the rear features a multi-element axle. At higher speeds, body roll is well controlled too and is one of the best handling SUVs in the segment. The 4x2 feels lighter around corners and is quite fun to drive, the 4x4 is 100 kilos heavier and one does feel it too but there is more grip. Both the variants can however show signs of understeer at times. The electromechanic power steering offers good feedback and is well weighted for both urban and highway driving. Both models offer the same ground clearance of 180mm making them ideal to drive on broken roads and off-road too. The 4x4 model is obviously better suited for off-roading, it isn't a hardcore SUV but is still capable thanks to an intelligent system and a torquey motor. The off-road button when turned on changes a few settings by using various systems like Anti Slip Regulation (ASR), Traction Control System and the Electronic Differential Lock for added traction. Other features like hill-descent control also help in various off-roading situations. The Yeti is a capable SUV both on and off the road.
Safety and features
Unlike the earlier model that was available in three variants, the new Yeti will only be offered in the top end Elegance trim. This means the car offers the existing features as standard and adds a lot of new ones too. Like before, the SUV is feature loaded and offers six airbags. Other standard features as mentioned before also aid in safety such as ABS, EBD, ASR, TCS, EDL, ESP etc. The new Yeti also gets tyre pressure monitoring now, a separate button placed in the centre console, when pressed, saves the ideal tyre pressures. In terms of comfort features, the SUV now even gets a 12 way electrically adjustable driver seat with three programmable memory functions. Lumbar adjustment is offered on both front seats. The touchscreen stereo offers various connectivity options like USB, Bluetooth, SD card reader, Aux-In and iPod/iPhone support even for the newer generation models. Climate control offers automatic dual-zone air conditioning, rear vents under front seats as well as in between them. Leather upholstery is standard. The steering wheel, gear lever and hand brake lever are wrapped in leather too. Ignition is now keyless, the system is similar to the new Superb and uses a push start button placed where one would normally insert the key.
The new Yeti is still a very capable SUV and retains the positives of the outgoing model. The styling has also improved and is now more in sync with its siblings. Compared to the outgoing model, it also offers a lot more standard comfort and safety features. But since it is only available in the Elegance trim, expect the starting price to be a lot higher. It can get really interesting if Skoda prices the SUV at the same price as the outgoing top end model. The biggest disappointment however is the decision to not offer an automatic transmission variant. This would have inevitably impacted the pricing. But going by the resounding chants of 'automatic' that we've been receiving on social media, it may have ended up attracting a lot more takers for the new Yeti.
Images by Varun Anchan
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