Man and Yeti, forth we went
Skoda's new-look softroader combines ruggedness, style and comfort in just the right mix, writes Campbell Spray
I WAS sad to say goodbye to the Skoda Yeti last Monday when the lads came to take away the car I had enjoyed over the Christmas period. The model has been nicely facelifted and it is more rounded than the rather austere first version of the Czech softroader, which still was one of my favourite vehicles of the past few years.
And I'm not alone. Since its launch four years ago, 281,000 Yetis have been sold worldwide. Ideally for the rather rough weather we have been experiencing lately, the test vehicle was the 4x4 Yeti Outdoor which had just the right amount of ruggedness so we had no fears that our Christmas Day picnic in the Dublin mountains would have to be called off. There's nothing like a pork pie, followed by a mince one, when you are surrounded by snow looking down on a festive capital. That Sam the dog had most of the pork pie did not take away the feeling of seasonal bonhomie. 'Page and monarch, forth they went ... together' and all that.
If the garage was rather empty last Monday morning, I was even more desolate in the evening when I borrowed my partner's two-year-old Hyundai i10 to give my 24-year-old son Marcus and his girlfriend a lift to the airport for their flight back to London, where they are both studying for their MAs and are also likely to stay for another couple of years at least. The Yeti would have been more spacious but the i10 coped well, although by the time four suitcases had been loaded in, there was only really space for the three of us.
Incidentally a new, sleeker and much anticipated i10 has just arrived here and should do very well. My colleague Andrew English on the Daily Telegraph says "the car to watch next year I vouch will be Hyundai's i10, which drives better than anything of its size and price has a right to".
The sad farewells at the airport (if it was bad for me, what must it be like for people whose children are going off to Australia?) was alleviated by the new caring Ryanair check-in desk. Plenty of staff, masses of smiles and a willingness to indulge a little bit of extra weight and that shoulderbag in addition to the carry-on. I'm sure I saw pigs landing and taking off as well.
Anyway back to the Yeti, which competes in perhaps the most competitive group with every manufacturer wanting to take advantage of the desire for a small SUV/ Crossover vehicles, which was really fuelled by the incredible success of the Nissan Qashqai.
The new Qashqai arrives here at the end of this month and all the signs are of a really much improved vehicle.
My colleague Eddie Cunningham on the Irish Independent says: "It is instantly Qashqai to look at... but much, much better to drive. They didn't break the Qashqai mould, they rather cleverly remoulded it."
Michael McAleer in the Irish Times adds: "First impressions are of a car that has lost none of its allure, merely updated its look and technology features."
While people will be falling over themselves to get the new Nissan, the Hyundai iX35 is superb and both the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V are much improved. For many, the Mazda CX-5 is the pick of the bunch -- however, both it and the Honda can be a bit pricey.
There is something very compact but spacious about the Yeti and I think it now has the suitable mix of style, ruggedness and comfort to be seen as a very acceptable family car for all occasions. It is far more distinctive and has better off-the-road attributes than most of its competitors. The Yeti is a car that again and again I recommend to family and colleagues.
While 2WD versions start at €24,490, the 2.0TDi 110BHP 4x4 in the new Outdoor grade is €30,195 with the 170BHP automatic another €4,000. Delivery charges are €600. A modest win in the Lotto would see me putting in an order.