Sunday 25 February 2018

Improved Skoda Yeti leaves larger-than-life impression

This 4x4 gave Campbell Spray confidence to do things he wouldn't normally do

TAKING the wrong turning after visiting the Powerscourt Waterfall in Wicklow, we inadvertently gave the Skoda Yeti 4x4 a better test that originally bargained for.

While the Yeti has been one of my favourite cars of recent years, its quasi-rugged square-jawed looks made it a bit of a big girl's blouse while it remained solely available as a two-wheel drive vehicle.

That has now been rectified and the 4x4 version, with a two-litre diesel engine, is now available at a starting price of €29,545. It does sound and act a lot more industrial than the 2WD, which was especially good when powered by a punchy 105bhp petrol engine.

Although it still isn't a Range Rover or Land Cruiser, the vehicle does now have a confident aura about it. We were grateful for that when we were faced with the possibility of having to navigate rough side roads, stony banks and forest trails. Even on a bright autumn Sunday, the Sally Gap area is fraught with adventure, even danger. What it is like in the depths of winter can only be imagined for us city dwellers but I reckon the Yeti 4x4 would be up for all but the most brutal conditions.

It is surprising how fast you get to rely on its prowess and I was willing to do things with it that would make me quake with a normal car. The excellent clutch distributes drive between the front and rear wheels as required.

However, Skoda must make the seats more supportive to give the required level of comfort for such activities. I would also like to see a full-size spare wheel on board, although the thin spare already intrudes on space and doesn't allow you to use the lower fitting of the load area.

Yet this is a roomy car with a great spec which, from next year, includes a sat nav. The test car had a "style pack" for an extra €1,995, which included a superb panoramic sun roof. I liked the Yeti 4x4 which was just as well as I bumped into the Simon Elliot, the nicely relaxed new head of the Volkswagen group (which includes Skoda), when walking the dog at Powerscourt.

The car should have a good appeal across all ages.

However, the drive was memorable for us being taken for pensioners and getting reduced price when we drove up to the Powerscourt entrance. Four years out wasn't too hard for me to take; my companion was less chuffed -- she has another 25 years to go and doesn't even look her present age. But maybe the gate-keeper just saw the black and white dog with some grey around its muzzle, or was the Yeti a real grown-up car?

Sunday Independent

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