Skoda Yeti vs Kia Sportage 2011

10 November 2011
, CarsGuide
Skoda Yeti vs Kia Sportage 2011


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.


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


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.

4 stars image
4 stars image


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.

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