Richard Berry follows up a confirmed sighting with a full road test and review of the Skoda Yeti 4X4 Outdoor 110TSI, including specs, fuel consumption and verdict.
If trophies were awarded for best car names, Skoda's mantelpiece would be groaning. You've got the Kodiaq, the Rapid, the Fabia, the Octavia, the Superb… But the best by far is the Yeti. Naming a car after a giant mythical man-bear that stalks the Himalayas is genius, even if the Skoda Yeti isn't giant or something that could cross serious off-road terrain. The charms of the Yeti go beyond a good name, though.
Towards the end of 2016 a Skoda Yeti 4X4 Outdoor with a new 110TSI petrol engine was launched and we've road tested it here. The 4X4 Outdoor is the four-wheel drive 'rough 'n' ready' variant in the Yeti line-up. If you were looking for other models to compare it to its most popular rivals are the Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-3 and Mitsubishi ASX.
Here we'll tell you what the Yeti's like to live with, how the new engine performs, what we don't like and the best reasons to buy it… apart from the name.
At 4222mm from snout to tailgate, 1793mm from wing mirror to wing mirror, and 1691mm to the top of the roof racks the Yeti 4X4 Outdoor has similar dimensions to Mazda's CX-3, but couldn't look more different. The Yeti's boxy and upright styling isn't as pretty and sleek as the CX-3 but there's beauty in its boldness.
You can tell a 4X4 Outdoor from other Yetis by its tough-looking black plastic bumpers and door sills, fog lights, black 17-inch alloy wheels and silver roof rails. If you're laying under the car you'll see cladding which protects the Yeti's undercarriage – another 4X4 Outdoor-only thing.
Inside, the 4X4 Outdoor has a premium feel with dark-coloured good-quality feeling materials used throughout.
Inside and out the Yeti is starting to date slightly, but there is an all-new generation Yeti coming in 2017 which will change all that. But we're here to talk about this one and despite the aging look the current Yeti feels well-crafted with a hint of function over form that makes it beautifully functional.
Big windows, doors that open wide, plus a tailgate that you don't have to duck under are just the start off a little SUV that's easy to see out of, get in and out of, and put things in and out of.
And though the Yeti is little, it's pretty roomy. I'm 191cm tall and feel too big for this world in general but I can sit behind my own driving position - just. Headroom is excellent, thanks to a roofline that that's more horizontal than the horizon. This helps with entry and exit into the back seats, although the rear doors are a tad small.
A boot capacity of 321 litres is bigger than the CX-3's 264 litres but 116 litres less than the HR-V's and 72 litres less than the ASX.
Our test vehicle had the optional hard-wearing rubber cargo floor mat which comes with the tech pack. Handy if you're like me and regularly throwing wet towels and togs into the back, or picking the eyes out of council clean-up 'offerings' from the side of the road. Under the boot floor is a space-saver spare wheel.
Rear passengers won't melt or freeze thanks to directional air-vents back there.
Okay, ready for some classic practical Skodaness? In the boot you'll find an LED torch, there are also tie-down hooks and a luggage net, plus the second row seats can slide forward and back or be completely removed. All standard on the 4X4 Outdoor.
There are two cup holders in the fold-down centre armrest in the second row, another two cup holders in the centre console up front, and bottle holders in all the doors.
Under the front passenger seat you'll find a drawer, there's more storage on top of the dash, under the dash and of course in the glove box. Elastic cords in the door pockets to stop pens and papery things moving about is a thoughtful touch.
Rear passengers won't melt or freeze thanks to directional air-vents back there, something you don't find on every car these days.
Price and features
There are currenty two variants in the Yeti range: the front-wheel drive 81TSI that starts at $24,690 and our test car - the 4X4 Outdoor 110TSI for $32,990 which is about $1500 less than the top-spec CX-3 Akari AWD petrol.
The Yeti's value for money is good with standard features such as a 6.5-inch touchscreen, a reversing camera, proximity unlocking, front and rear parking sensors, dual-zone climate control, tinted windows, push-button ignition, and eight-speaker stereo system.
Our test vehicle was kitted out with: the optional $400 'Off Road Pack' which adds different 17-inch black alloys, the luggage mat, and off-road assistance driving mode; the $2100 'Tech Pack' which adds a 12-speaker premium sound system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, digital radio, auto parking function, and bi-Xenon headlights. Our car also had the leather upholstery option ticked for $2390 and a $1690 panoramic sunroof.
The big deal about this Yeti 4X4 Outdoor is the new engine – it's a 110kW/250Nm 1.4-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol.
There are seven colours in the Yeti colour palette. The test car's Jungle Green metallic paint normally costs $750, but at the time of writing metallic paint is included in the Navi pack which is free on all Yetis for a limited time – so check with the dealer to see if the offer is still going. There's also Moon White (surely this should be Himalayan White), Brilliant Silver, Cappuccino Beige and Black Magic. This brings the price of 'our' car to a not inconsiderable $40,320.
Now here's a curveball for you. At the time of writing you could get the new generation Volkswagen Tiguan 110TSI Trendline for $33,990. The Yeti and Tiguan used to be built on the same platform but the new, larger, more advanced Tiguan is underpinned by the group's newer MQB platform. The next gen Yeti will move to this new platform soon. Just sayin'...
Engine and transmission
The big deal about this Yeti 4X4 Outdoor is the new engine – it's a 110kW/250Nm 1.4-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol and the same one found in the Octavia.
A six-speed dual-clutch gearbox sends the drive to all four wheels; a manual 'box is not available.
Skoda says combined driving conditions should see you using 6.6L/100km of 95 RON petrol, but some heavy footed driving returned an actual 12.2L/100km.
And because you like to know facts, the Outdoor 4X4 has a 60 litre fuel tank.
This is a fun SUV to drive. It feels a bit like a safari park buggy purpose built so you can see the monkeys better while climbing over a landscape that's not perfectly smooth. To be honest, we stayed firmly on the tarmac but were impressed by the large amount of travel in the suspension – killer speed bumps which often cause the shock absorbers in test cars to bottom-out hard couldn't do the same to the Yeti which just sucked up the punches in its stride.
Front suspension is taken care of by MacPherson struts and there's independent suspension in the rear.
The ride is comfortable, though handling is not as good as the Tiguan which has the excellent new MQB platform that also underpins the Volkswagen Golf.
Tyres are Michelin Primacy 3 225/50 R17 on the front and rear.
Visibility out the front and rear is great thanks to the large windows.
The engine is excellent, although the gearbox is keen to change up ratios to save you petrol and that drops the revs and you end up with some turbo lag straight afterwards. I spent a lot of time driving with the gear shifter moved across in manual mode so that the gears could be held for longer. There is a sport mode but in normal driving conditions it holds the gears for far too long and will make your passengers look at you nervously.
That said the dual-clutch shifts well at other times – coming into a corner for example it senses you lifting off and downshifts like a pro.
Steering is light, quick and accurate, while the brake pedal feel under my feet was good.
An eager stop-start system is always a bit annoying with a dual clutch 'box, so I turn the function off in heavy traffic to make life a bit smoother.
As we mentioned, visibility out the front and rear is great thanks to the large windows, while the reversing camera quality is good.
We tested out the auto-parking system and that worked spookily perfectly.
The Yeti 4X4 Outdoor is tow-bar prepared and has a braked towing capacity of 1800kg.
How far would you take it off road? Don't attempt the Simpson in it, but it'll go further than most little off-road flavoured SUVs. There's a hill descent control and 180mm of ground clearance, where as the CX-3 has 155mm.
The Skoda Yeti 4X4 Outdoor has been given the maximum five-star ANCAP rating. There are seven airbags, a reversing camera and the auto parking system. Where the Yeti lags behind some of its rivals is in terms of advanced safety equipment – it doesn't have auto emergency braking for example, unlike the CX-3.
The Skoda Yeti 4X4 Outdoor has a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty. Servicing is recommended every 15,000km or 12 months and is capped at $280 for the first visit, $339 for the second, $648 for the third, $549 for the fourth and $481. It's a bit more expensive than servicing a Mazda CX-3 which is capped at under $320 each year.