The Skoda Yeti impressed us with its quirky looks and brilliant interior packaging but how does it feel to drive? Most SUVs disappoint in this aspect because they are big and heavy. Weight and dimensions kill driving pleasure.
However the Skoda Yeti is a different ball game because so far it has been unlike any other SUV that we have driven. So does the Skoda Yeti bring anything new to the table with its driving performance?
What powers the Skoda Yeti?
The Skoda Yeti is powered by a 2L TDI engine which produces 110 bhp at 4,200 rpm and 250 Nm of torque between 1500 – 2500 rpm. I have experienced this same engine in a VW Jetta, Audi A4, Skoda Laura and Skoda Superb and let’s get things straight – this is one of the best diesel engines in the market today. People think that the Multijet engine is the best diesel engine in India but I beg to differ.
Crank the engine and it immediately settles into the idle mode, with very little vibration and hardly any noise. Unlike the 4X4 which is mated to a six speeder, the engine in the 4x2 is mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox.
This gearbox is as crisp as a bright, sunny morning. Each gear engages positively and the shift action between is fluid and notch-free. The gates are precise, the throw is short and the clutch is light – a perfect making for a city car.
Thanks to the shedding of the Haldex 4-wheel drive system, the Yeti saves up to 98 kg of weight. Unfortunately, because the engine is also detuned, the power-to weight ratio has dropped to 76.12 PS per ton from 90.73 PS per ton. So does that mean it is now a slouch dragging its heavy feet? Not even remotely!
The Yeti pulls off the line like no other SUV. Most of the torque is available at the low-end of the rev-band so overtaking is a breeze. The Yeti can hit 100km/hr in just 12 seconds; that’s good enough to worry people in sedans. The steering wheel is an electro-hydraulic unit that is light as a feather in city traffic and sharp as needles on twisty roads.
The 3rd and the 4th gear are the most versatile of the five. You can lug them or rev them and power delivery will remain more or less consistent. The best part of the Yeti is the fact that it has no traces of body roll. It is really a confidence inspiring SUV in a set of fast corners and drives almost with sedan-like grace.
All four disc brakes do a wonderful job of curtailing this beast when things get a bit choppy. The high speed stability and control is outstanding. Oodles of ground clearance and underbody composite-plastic protection make sure you can pass over any speed bump that may come your way.
What about fuel economy?
Here is the best part – because the Yeti has ditched the 4 wheel drive and it’s a diesel, we got a fuel economy of 16kmpl in our 300km journey of city and highway. That’s fantastic!
What about safety?
The Skoda Yeti gets a fair share of safety equipments. These include:
- ASR (Anti Slip Regulation) with traction control
- Parking sensors
- Hill hold control
- Dual front airbags
Adding to that, the Skoda Yeti has been awarded 5 stars by Euro NCAP.
Is the frequent stalling issue sorted now?
The Yeti 4X4’s clutch biting point was a main problem. Very often even the experienced hand would stall the car unknowingly. But there is no such problem with the 4X2 version.
Things that I did not like about the Yeti’s drive:
- Lack of DSG gearbox or paddle shifters
- The ride can become unbearable on harsh roads because the suspension is stiff to minimize the body roll
- Acceleration is brilliant but not so much in the department of top speed. You will struggle to push the Yeti above 150 km/hr
- Lack of cruise control may be a problem for those used to it
The Yeti is the perfect crossover between a sedan and SUV. Most crossovers are a rubbish mix of their donor cars and end up being neither one of them. But the Yeti blends the agility of sedan with a practicality of the SUV. It only draws the good points of the sedan and an SUV, leaving out the negatives.
It is really the only car you will ever need for everything. Skoda has pulled a masterstroke with the Yeti and it deserves all the laurels and accolades that it has got so far from the international automotive press.
The 4X2 version with the excellent fuel economy makes more sense in India because hardly any SUV owners take their cars for off roading excursions.
The Yeti has genuinely won us over with its intelligent package. If you think that the Yeti is expensive, you are not alone. But after driving it, we got the right perspective. It is in fact a bargain for one of the most versatile yet enjoyable cars that we have ever driven.
Sure, it is slightly expensive; but a car, as a product, does not get better than this!