Review – 2014 Skoda Yeti

Posted on: Sep 10, 2014 - 2:23pm IST

The outside temperature gauge read 8 degrees as I belted down National Highway 1. It was pitch dark and the rains hadn’t receded over the past 48 hours. Kashmir had shut-down amidst government warnings of imminent floods. I was trying to reach Srinagar as soon as possible; driving the 2014 version of Skoda’s SUV offering – the Yeti. The incessant rains had taken a toll on the roads, most were excessively water logged, but nothing that intimidated me into slowing down nor did they bother the Yeti.

2014 Skoda Yeti front three quarters zoom out review

As I proceeded through a town, in the rain battered darkness, I spotted another water patch up ahead. I entered it without concern until I noticed flashlights in the distance frantically waving at me to stop. As my senses caught up to what was happening, it was too late. The Yeti’s headlights flickered, just a little, before going under a large pool of ice cold flood water. At precisely that moment, I wished I was driving the 4×4 version of the Yeti, but I was not. The diesel engine under the now submerged hood was producing 108 bhp and sending that power to the front wheels. Being a submarine was not something this car was designed to do.

Skoda India have just launched the updated Yeti in Mumbai. The design has been updated in alignment with Skoda’s 2014 portfolio of cars, the equipment list has received a refresh to meet the competition, and the variant list has gone under the axe. The Yeti will now be delivered to you in a single trim called ‘Elegance’ into which Skoda has packed every feature it could find. So this analysis should be considerably shorter.

2014 Skoda Yeti front three quarters view review

The front and the rear of the Yeti have received cosmetic updates while the sides have largely remained the same. Gone are the earlier foglamp designs that integrated themselves into the headlamp cluster in quite a quirky fashion. In place are single bi- xenon headlamps that adorn LED daytime running lights as already seen on the Octavia and Superb. The foglamps now rest comfortably on the bumper and come integrated with cornering lamps. The rear gets marginal design changes on the bootlid and the bumper, while the taillamps are C-shaped and pack LEDs.

You can now choose to have the roof painted in one of three different colours i.e. white, silver, or black. The side view mirrors will now come painted in silver irrespective of the body colour, and they can now be electrically folded too. Skoda will continue to offer the Yeti in front wheel drive and all-wheel drive guises while retaining engine options.

2014 Skoda Yeti dashboard review

The car will now detect its key in the vicinity and unlock at the push of a button. As you place yourself into the driver’s seat, you can now adjust it electrically and also record three different driver positions for it to remember. With the keys still in your pocket, you can crank the engine by hitting the engine start-stop button positioned on the steering column, where the regular key slot used to be. What you will see in front of you is a three-spoke multi function steering wheel that has been picked up from the Octavia and is a welcome change.

The steering wheel controls lead into the instrument cluster in front that now houses a Multi Information Display or MID. The MID has a host of options to control various features in the car including the Bluetooth settings. Skoda has added cruise control and a tyre pressure monitoring system as well, for good measure. The rest of the car remains exactly the same as before. It’s 3 mm shorter, in case that matters to you.

2014 Skoda Yeti gearlever review

Under the hood, Skoda leaves you with two engine options. The Yeti will arrive with a 2.0 litre diesel engine in two different states of tune. One engine will come packed with 108 bhp of grunt producing 250 NM of torque regulated by a 5-speed gearbox sending power to the front wheels alone. The other engine will come charged with 138 bhp and 320 Nm of torque. The difference here will be a 6-speed gearbox that will send power to all 4 wheels permanently.

Driving the Yeti

The Yeti arrives on a fantastic chassis that handles beautifully for the spirited drivers in the lot. The all-round independent suspension works well to absorb impacts and keep the car composed with minimal body roll around corners. Now these are things that you wouldn’t be able to measure on a dealership test drive, but ask owners and they will concur. However, as a result of the dynamic stiff suspension, things at the back can get pretty uncomfortable over pot holes and general Indian road conditions. The Yeti is not a car to be chauffeur driven in.

2014 Skoda Yeti rear seat review

Even on the driver’s seat, it gets tricky to find a comfortable driving position and can take multiple iterations before you find one. The fact that the seat now comes powered and with memory, helps a lot. While the steering wheel feels great in your hands, I found it a bit too angled away from me and this was a constant niggle through out the driving experience. The reach and rake adjustment didn’t help either.

The five- and six-speed gearboxes have short, smart throws and you need to be gentle with the clutch lest you will stall the engine. You are right to think that 108 horses in this segment is paltry for an engine, but with close to zero turbo lag, the car feels and behaves like an agile cat. It is quick, direct, and sharp. The sister engine comes with 20 more horses and all-wheel drive giving it more bite on the road.

2014 Skoda Yeti alloy wheel review

What requires special mention, is the Yeti’s dynamics on water-laden roads. Those 16-inch 215/60 wheels along with the onboard traction control did a phenomenal job of keeping the car in line as I hit water patches by the droves. Aquaplaning is a big fear when we travel over puddles of water and it can make you lose control of the car in a heartbeat. But the Czech machine handled it beautifully. Had I slowed down for every water patch I came across on the road, it would have taken me twice the time to get to where I was going. Yes, Kashmir was soaked completely.

When you decide to leave the road, the Yeti’s dimensions play to its favour. The car’s short overhangs at the front and the rear ensure great off road drivability with excellent approach and departure angles. The 180 mm ground clearance is adequate and the 4×4 version comes with an off-road button on the centre console that automatically adjusts different parameters such as the differential lock, traction control, and stability program to ready the car for some dirt action. Now you wouldn’t see the Yeti gunning for fame at hardcore 4×4 events that push the likes of the Mahindra Thar to the limit, but the Yeti can hold its own, the proof of which is amply available on Youtube videos.

Will it Matter?

When you sit down with the competition you will notice that there really isn’t any. On road prices of the current 4×4 Yeti in Delhi stand at about 22 lakh. That’s INR 5.8 lakh less than a 4×4 Fortuner, 3.4 lakh less than a 4×4 Rexton, and 4.3 lakh more than an all-wheel drive XUV500. The Fortuner is far too expensive, is bigger, and the equipment list is scarce. I mention the XUV500 here for a reason. Though it doesn’t stand a chance to match the build and quality levels of the Skoda Yeti, it stands testament to the fact that there are bigger, well equipped and more powerful SUVs below and above the segment that the Yeti plays in.

2014 Skoda Yeti rear profile view review

Hence most Indian people will continue to see the Yeti as an overpriced mini SUV. What the Yeti needs to do is get bigger, and receive an ergonomic overhaul of the interiors if Skoda is seeking bigger volumes with the Yeti.

The various systems on board the car that were primarily designed to handle roads were now tackling an ocean of water. The 5-speed gearbox was set on first gear and my right foot had planted itself firmly on the accelerator. There was nothing that I could do except hold on. The engine sputtered, the engine choked. The music system continued to blare out notes. The headlights were still submerged as I watched more water pour onto the road from the right side.

There was still no water inside the car, thankfully. As the Yeti waded through, the headlights finally began to emerge from their icy graves as the car plowed through. Every moment was followed by another in which the engine threatened to stall. But it didn’t. We emerged on the other side in a cloud of smoke as water evaporated from the exhaust manifold.

Skoda Yeti review – Image Gallery

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7 thoughts on “Review – 2014 Skoda Yeti

  1. Vishwajeet says:

    Absolutely a agree with you. They should get it a 1.6L mill from the Rapid and take down the price to say that of Terrano or duster. Will sell good numbers.

    Reply
  2. jeeves says:

    One thing is clear IAB.
    The journalist was not “intimidated” by miserable road conditions and drove therefore recklessly through deep water. Why? Becaus it was not personal property.
    However capable a product is, there is no solution for stupidity. And in this case it could have cost a lot if things went bad.
    The author must understand that not every rough road is a chance to rally.
    Sure there are more responsible and equally dramatic ways to test and narrate a drive report. This however was not.
    I hope you take the viewpoints constructively.

    Reply
    1. Hello Jeeves, thanks for the comment. Our representative did not drive the car recklessly. We attend over 25 media drives in a year and we do not try moves that compromises the safety of the car or its occupants. Our driver was taking the car over the puddles and pools at normal speed prior to the reported incident. “Without concern” does not mean careless driving or driving over the speed limit, it only means he wasn’t concerned about the depth of the puddle as he had been over dozens of similar ones earlier in the day. The route that Tarun drove was charted by Skoda and had been used by other journalists who were invited to the very same media drive. Therefore the depth of the water in this patch was unrecognizable and had flooded overnight.

      Reply
      1. rajan says:

        Thank you Mr. Shrawanji for your calm and respectful reply.
        Readers sometimes need to be careful of not accusing the author. However, in this case i also share some amount of empathy with Jeevesji.
        This is based on simply gathering inferences from the narration.
        For example “the roads, most were excessively water logged, but nothing that intimidated me into slowing” clearly shows recklessness in the face of clear warning signs.
        Also “the engine threatened to stall” again displays the gravity of the damage that could have eventually led to a breakdown.
        No amount of gadgetry and advanced systems can replace human intuition and intelligence and this time it was a close call.
        I apologise if there has been any misunderstanding.
        Faithful IAB reader.

      2. Rajesh says:

        I don’t agree. This is one of the more interesting reviews I have read on the Yeti. Water wading is a simple process that all of us have either seen or done it ourselves on our great Indian roads at some point. Instead of simply saying in a sentence that he did some water wading with the car the author expanded it into an interesting story. I was reading the review by EVO INDIA before this and it too mentioned that they had to take a detour after they came to know about a flood that had occurred along the way. That’s what the author mentioned above. We are seeing the devastation that is happening in J&K because of the flas floods. We were not present there, so to blame the author for recklessness without knowing anything about the situation is just wrong. His usage of words is subjective. His definition of “excessively water logged” can be different to my definition. So to attack the author for his choice of words is uncalled. It looks like jeeves had something against the author. We need to focus on the car and its attributes and not on the author. Peace. Pray for J&K

        All the best iab

      3. rajan says:

        Rajeshji,
        Thank you for the kind words.
        It seems I perhaps misinterpreted the author’s exuberant style of writing. The Yeti was then finally the hero of the day ).
        Prayers for the needy and the suffering in J&K and wishing them safety.
        RJN

    2. Tarun Tripathy says:

      Jeeves,

      “Not intimidated” does not mean “reckless”. I can’t fathom how you went from one to the other. I reckon your comments were inspired by some of your biases. Further from “reckless” you decided it meant I had no concern for what was not my property.

      The task at hand for a motoring journalist is to carry out a comprehensive test drive of a product and present facts and experiences to the wider public so they can make sound buying decisions. Facts and experiences that are virtually impossible on dealership test drives.

      So by using the words “not intimidated”, it was a positive comment on the brilliant chassis Skoda had placed the Yeti on. Further to that, “not personal property” was an unwarranted, callous and judgemental remark.

      As far as the flood is concerned, I am unsure if you are aware of the unfortunate news of Kashmir being under 12 feet of water. It was a coincidence that we were at the media drive when this was just beginning. As Shrawan mentioned, the route is set by the company organizing the drive. All the cars move in a convoy with some distance in between them. On this particular evening, we were passing through a town that was deserted and dark. The rains hadn’t stopped for the past 48 hours, there was no electricity, and there was a few inches of water logging on all roads. My car happened to be the first car in the convoy, so I was the first one to hit the flooded road. There was no one to warn us, and on the surface it looked like all the other roads we had driven through earlier. It was only after I was in that I realised the water levels were deeper and rising rapidly because water from a parallel lane was filling up quickly (as I have already mentioned in the review). When you are in a mountainous region with an air temperature of 8 degrees, expensive camera equipment on board, and driving through complete darkness, you aren’t looking at a “chance to rally”.

      The only reason I mentioned the experience was because the Yeti waded through successfully and commendably. Something that our readers ought to know about this machine. Once I got out, I informed the other cars in the convoy about the conditions and they took a detour around the town.

      So, I hope I have cleared the air here. Please also understand that there is nothing “constructive” to take from ignorance.

      Tarun

      Reply

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About the Author
Tarun
Tarun Tripathy

Automotive Head. AMG Certified Performance Car Driver. Reader. Writer. Rally Driver. Formula One Marshal. Thinker. Want to fly planes, build companies, & go into space.