The frenetic family-oriented SUV field gets a competitive contender with the new Skoda Yeti 112TSI - sister to the existing all-wheel drive diesel and the more city-focused front-wheel drive models - which balances price, fuel economy and performance.
It will only be available with all-wheel drive and, from this week, opens the can with a competitive $32,990. Skoda Australia says it's a ``critical'' car that hits at the heartland of the nation's compact SUV market.
"This sits right in the most popular section of the segment - it's priced and equipped to be competitive,'' says Skoda spokesman Karl Gehling. "It will undoubtedly be our top selling Yeti, significantly lifting our sales.''
The new Yeti starts at $32,990 for the manual and to $35,290 for the six-speed dual-clutch DSG auto model. The 112TSI is identical externally, internally and drivetrain (less the engine) to the 103TSI turbo-diesel version but is $2700 cheaper.
Fuel consumption is a claimed 8.4 L/100km for the manual - and a more thrifty 8.2 L/100km for the auto - against the diesel Yeti's 6.2 L/100km. High-distance buyers may find it more cost-effective to opt for the more fuel-efficient diesel though city buyers are probably best staying with petrol.
Interestingly, the Skoda 112TSI competes with its cousin, the Volkswagen Tiguan, with only $500 between them. However, Skoda buyers may appreciate the extra space of the Yeti - 1665 litres of cargo room compared with the Tiguan's 1510 litres - and its clever Varioflex versatile seating system.
That's the key to Skoda philosophy in general and Yeti in particular. The Yeti is distinctive, practical and very roomy. There's clever little things in the Skoda range to make life a bit easier for the owner - hooks for the handbag or shopping bags, tie-down hooks, luggage nets, extra personal storage space and so on.
The Yeti's face goes against car trends - round driving lights alongside sweeping headlights - but it works. Inside it's neat, interesting and always easy to use. Quality is Volkswagen standard so no complaints, while seat design initially appears too narrow yet is snug on the body and eases stress over long distances.
Flip, fold or remove rear seat is fabulous. This Yeti gets Volkswagen's lovely 1.8-litre turbocharged petrol engine with some fine tuning to make the power and torque suit the all-wheel drive system and
the vagaries of bitumen and dirt roads.
The automatic model has 112kW/250Nm and the manual gets 118kW/250Nm, the discrepancy to allow a more progressive power flow through the six-speed dual-clutch DSG transmission that isn't normally known for its smoothness.