Saturday 25 November 2017

Should you geti a Yeti?

RATING 86/100

A friend of mine and I were to go to a bit of a 'do' recently. It is not often the opportunity suits our schedules. He decided he'd get out the lovely silk, cream shirt and blue tie a friend had given him for a special occasion. He rang me at noon in a bit of a lather.

"Lord," he says, "I'm half an hour trying to iron this feckin' thing and everywhere I turn there's another crease."

I should mention he has been mumbling barely comprehensibly for some time about being more self-sufficient and not relying on 'de mudder' to do everything for him.

You can imagine my surprise, then, when he turned up at the function in a dark blue shirt and blood red tie.

After he had swallowed his first pint and a commensurate quantity of pride, I asked him what had changed his mind.

Simply put, he had discovered after all his trouble that the shirt didn't fit him.

Too tight around the shoulders and (expanding, shhhhhhh) midriff.

Now, I tell the story to highlight how we can get distracted and lose focus when thinking about buying a car or version of a car. It is terribly easy to go after something that is grand in its own right but find when it's too late it doesn't really fit you that well after all. Take the Skoda Yeti I had on test recently. It has four-wheel-drive and is an undoubted contender for families looking for a versatile motor with a really good engine.

But do you need four-wheel-drive?

Will it fit you?

Would you be better off with the two-wheel-drive versions?

Or with something else?

So let's try it and see.

There is no doubt the Yeti has attracted a lot of buyers, especially its two-wheel drive versions. There's a 1.2-litre petrol and a 1.6-litre diesel, both less expensive than the 2-litre 4x4 on test, but obviously not as powerful or with the ultimate traction ability of this.

Frankly, you won't really notice the difference because, on the tarmac, this was particularly smooth. Power surged through it from the excellent, if thirstier than expected, 2-litre diesel. Here's an example of traction, pulling power, solidity and comfort. One of the few things against it is its near-€30,000 asking price -- but as the Yeti range starts at €22,330 there is well-tiered affordability.

I'll start at the back and work forwards for a change because I want to highlight some of the practicalities that lie within its tall, wedge-shape frame.

The boot, roomy and square, has a lot of helpful hooks and 'rails' that secured shopping and a few looser clothes bags -- a real boon when you need to grab them and go in a downpour.

You can more or less do what you want with the rear seats -- have three, two, one or none if you need more luggage space -- as they all can fold forward. There is good room whatever mix you decide on.

My driver's position was excellent. Because of the height of the steering wheel, I found myself sitting further forward than usual, creating more space behind. It is a typical logically laid-out dash with simplicity making all the functions accessible even on my first time around. The one crib I had was I found myself knocking off the cruise control because of where the little switch is located.

Front-seat passengers had plenty of room. The cabin was comfortable with decent materials and well insulated from road and engine noise.

There were myriad slots and cup-holders and all that.

For some reason, and it may be down to me, I again found myself nudging reverse gear when seeking first. This happened to me with another car recently. There are six forward gears on this and the room for manoeuvre is tight enough.

No, I didn't take it off-road. I didn't need to and didn't feel like it (the ould back was a bit sore) but it has a lot of off-road aids: all sorts of 'assist' technology for sharp inclines, declines, slippery surfaces, etc.

Which brings me to the key question for you. Does it fit?

I think a lot of people are thinking about how they will manage if we get another couple of big freezes like last winter. Undoubtedly a 4x4 offers the potential of a lot more grip and traction.

Mind you, a decent set of winter tyres and a reasonable level of driving skill/patience would have done a lot for many last time round. I saw several instances of 4x4s spinning like tops.

Nonetheless, this sort of vehicle could make life a lot easier. It has a lot going for it, though I'm no mad fan of its looks. Despite that, it will by no means look out of place on a suburban driveway or hill-side farmyard. The core question is whether you need the 4x4 or not.

So to iron (sorry for that pun) out that decision you need to try it on for yourself.

You may not buy a 4x4 but the Yeti will make an impression.

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