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Yeti shows how far Skoda has come
If you thought Skodas were, shall we say, a little predicatable maybe it’s time you had a re-think.
The Yeti – yes, it is a strange name – is the car which started to re-invent the brand. And having such an odd name is an indication that Skoda, for so long the safe and steady part of the Volkswagen empire, is starting to flex its wings.
It was always the homely, mature and affordable part of the VW group and it appealed to people who eschewed frippery. You can almost imagine Skoda fans saying: “Just give me a sensible motor at a cost I can afford.”
But there is a new-found confidence in the brand these days. The days when Skodas were joke cars are long gone and the brand has blossomed into a desirable yet mature choice. Just look at the new Citigo. I can’t imagine Skoda of the 1980s producing such an exciting mini-hatchback. But for me Yeti remains the best Skoda yet. Certainly, it’s the best Skoda of the last decade, even if the Octavia is accomplished and the Superb lives up to its name.
In fact, Yeti is arguably the best alternative to Nissan Qashqai and Juke. Yeti looks good, drives well and is well-appointed. More than that it’s a car with character.
If it has a fault, it’s that the austere VW-inspired cabin doesn’t sit well with the look-at-me exterior. While the outside is youthful exuberance, the inside is just a little too sensible. It works well, of course. The dash is solid and the controls are very easy to live with. In fact, the satellite navigation system is one of the easiest I’ve ever used. But a touch of Audi-esque style to the cabin would have helped.
So, what is the Yeti? It’s a crossover car, that is a combination of SUV (sports utility vehicle) and estate. It is a formidable load-carrier with a vast, deep and wide boot which would appeal to active types. It holds 416 litres of luggage rising to 1,760 with the seats down.
As ever with modern diesels, the economy will make your eyebrows rise. More than 52mpg is good, very good in fact, for such a chunky Tonka Toy of a car.
There are some interesting features. The curry hook to hold takeaways stable is interesting (didn’t Nissan do one a few years ago?) and the rear seats split and fold down, with the centre section able to create a table top.
On the road, it rides and handles very well. Only on sharp corners do you have to remember you’re not driving a cling-to-the-road hot-hatch.
Meanwhile, Skoda has released details of its Rapid saloon, following a concept image some months ago. Sized in between the Fabia and Octavia, the Rapid aims to capture sales in a corner of the market it currently doesn’t serve. It’s likely that it will end up sharing a lot of parts and technology with the Volkswagen Jetta. It is due on sale later this year. However, the Rapid is the first Skoda to showcase the next generation of the company’s styling.
Despite being smaller it looks quite similar in proportions to a current generation Octavia, but with a nod towards the sort of straight-line architecture that the first Octavia used in 2001.