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Skoda Yeti v Kia Sportage

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Skoda Yeti and Kia Sportage go head to head in this comparitive review.

 

3.5 stars

VALUE from $37,990

4 stars

VALUE from $35,720

This competition should be all about value for money but in the mix is the fact that these two players come from a rarely visited side of the street. Skoda has just launched its Yeti here after rave reviews in Europe (even Jeremy Clarkson loves it) but it's not the discount buy expected from the Czech arm of Volkswagen. But, in its 103TDI guise, it gets a fantastic flexible seat system, superb strength (it's based on the bigger Octavia), pragmatic features and excellent build quality. Three downfalls: It has a face you'd like or reject; the price is too close to its VW Tiguan sister; and the public perception of  Skoda is still a puzzle.

There's $2270 splitting these and the Sportage is cheaper and ostensibly has more kit. This includes a rear camera which wins big points for pedestrian safety as well as making parking easier. But that aside, the Sportage and Yeti appear to be pretty much on par for equipment. Engines and performances are similar but in ride comfort, cabin treatment and off-road prowess, each are as different as the language of their origins. The SLi is the pick of the Sportage range, saving $4000 over the flagship Platinum model.

3.5 starsTECHNOLOGY 4 starsTECHNOLOGY

The Haldex coupling that allocates 103kW/320Nm between the wheels is the biggest deal here. It's a very quick, effective and relatively lightweight method of finding traction and ensuring the relevant wheel puts the torque to the ground. Aside from that, the 2-litre 103TDI engine - rated at 6.2 L/100km - is as common as belly buttons and the seven-speed DSG box perfectly suits the Yeti's on-road and off-road aspirations. Steering is by electric-assist over hydraulic and suspension is uncomplicated struts at the front and multi-link at t he back. It's all very simple, really.

Kia really wants this to be an SUV first and a 4WD last. Skoda wants both, so the parameters for each are different. So the Sportage gets a part-time all-wheel drive system with sensors that engage the rear wheels when necessary, and an over-ride lock for low-speed 4WD applications. The transmission is a silky six-speed auto and the engine is one of Kia-Hyundai's latest turbo-diesels that is a peppy 135kW and 393Nm. It averages 7.5 L/100km. Simplicity rules in the suspension - designed specifically for Australia - which is similar to the Yeti. The tow rate is 1600kg but download is a welcome 200kg.

4.5 stars

DESIGN

4.5 starsDESIGN

It's a box with a nose with two slated eyes supported by a pair of circular daylight-running lamps. Pretty? Not especially. Functional? Damn right! It sets five adults including Grandad with his hat, lots of legroom front and rear and great visibility. The rear seats are pure origami in foam-rubber and steel that create a versatile cabin for any size and shape load. The dashboard is Volkswagen - pure and simple - while functional features extend to full underbody protection, tall lift-up rear hatch and lots of personal storage including big door pockets.

This is a pretty car. It's distinctive on the road and turns heads mainly  because of the way the greenhouse narrows seductively to the wagon's high-end tail. Bit like an Evoque. Most onlookers are shocked that it's a Kia but it's actually the start of a Korean revolution that capitalises on cars becoming fashion statements that people love to be seen owning. That said, the design moves indoors with ease. The cabin is fresh and functional as well as roomy and comfortable.

4 starsSAFETY 4 starsSAFETY

Yeti recently won a five-star crash rating by the Australian crash-test dummy association, based on its similarly high European score. It adds seven airbags, electronic stability control and so on, plus a handy hill-holder. A $290 option is hill assist and hill descent control and automatic off-road settings for the ESC and ABS for die-hards who are planning off-road adventures. It may be a little extreme for the suburbs.

Again, this is following the Skoda with a five-star rating and a comprehensive list of electronic aids. It gets six airbags, electronic stability control, downhill assist and hill-start assist, ABS brakes and brakeforce distribution. The standard reverse camera is also a boon for safety.

4.5 starsDRIVING 3.5 starsDRIVING

This is a very good drive. It's very quiet over rough bitumen and has a compliant ride over sand trails. It can be pushed very hard and brush off hard treatment. As an off-roader it's surprisingly competent though it's no replacement for a Prado. Firm seats work with the cruising ability of the diesel engine and long wheelbase in the country, while the excellent visibility make it at ease in the city. Better than the performance is the way it works, especially the simplicity of the car and t he flexible rear seat arrangement.

This goes as good as its shape implies and backs it up with a very comfortable ride and good seating position. It has a bigger boot area than the Yeti - but it is 240mm longer - until the Yeti folds down its seats. The engine feels a bit more responsive than the Yeti and the gears upchange with barely a tug. It handles well - better than most of its peers - but the Yeti feels more solid and confident, partly due to its firmer suspension setting. The lighter steering may better suit families who operate in suburban/city environments. While driver visibility is reasonable, the rear camera saves embarrassment and body dings.

OVERALL STAR RATING FINAL POINTS
4 stars image
OVERALL STAR RATING FINAL POINTS
4 stars image

VERDICT

The Sportage cleverly suits a wider range of buyers than the Skoda, primarily because of its value-for-money price and its desirable looks. But their culture is as wide apart as their language. Translate this and they suit different buyers.

Comments on this story

Displaying 3 of 6 comments

  • Nonsens review, yeti is way better in every aspect then kia.

    john rambo Posted on 27 November 2013 9:37am
  • I was very impressed with the Yeti and seriously considered it for my next car until the dealership told me only a space-saver spare tyre was available - not really useful for long journeys. No one would seriously consider going off-road without a real spare in a ny case.

    David Pim of Trieste, Italy Posted on 16 November 2013 1:56am
  • Test drove a Mitsubishi ASX and the Skoda Yeti. No comparison, the Yeti is quiter and far superior interior and built quality. It is a high quality European SUV, great bang for your buck.

    Michael of Frenchs forest Posted on 11 May 2013 10:50pm
  • Thanks for the comparison. I currently drive Mazda CX7 Luxury and have tested CX5 diesel and Sportage Platinum Diesel. I have chosen, to my surprise, the Sportage Diesel. It’s a lot of car for the money, so much more than the Mazda. I wished the Mazda WOWED me but it actually disappoints me except for the new Skyactive. The look outside is bland and inside like a box. $4k more for base model over top of range Sportage! Both my Father and uncle had new VW and had major troubles constantly and both sold them after a year so I didn’t even look at Skoda. Hopefully Sportage goes as good as it looks.

    jeff Heimann of NSW Posted on 07 April 2012 8:16pm
  • I looked at both of these (Diesels only) and have chosen the Yeti.  I have to say though I only drove the Yeti and should be picking it up next week.  The sportage had more boot space and although the design is eye catching, I find it a bit flashy.  I prefer the more restrained and original look of the Yeti and the better off-road capability plus better economy.  I dont think you would go wrong with either.  Downside for the Yeti is the speed limited spare, almost (but not quite) a showstopper for me.  Other than that, I love it!  Moving to the Yeti from a ‘06 Forester XT.

    Floppy of ACT Posted on 31 March 2012 8:27pm
  • We have test driven the Yeti, the Sportage and theCX5. For us, the Yeti TSI came up best, we
    Iked it’s road holding, it’s zip and the interior space. At first the turbo lag is noticeable, but after a while the split second delay ceases to matter.  The two other vehicles were perfectly competent, but seemed to be. Underpowered and lacking in character. Sure the Yeti design is u usual and obviously ‘different’ from other cars, but the package, we found, works really well, of course we have to say that, coz we bought one,

    Chris Kenyon of Rural nsw Posted on 11 March 2012 12:02am
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