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Most practical all-purpose car for today's lifestyle

By Subhashish Sarkar on 26 August 2013

Car's Age: 1-3 years

Summary

Overall Rating 5
Exterior 5
Interior 5
Ride Quality 5
Maintenance 500/ month
Mileage (city) 13 KMPL
Mileage (highway) 19 KMPL

Detailed Skoda Yeti Review

What's Good?

Compact exteriors with enough interior space for 5 adults. Super-efficient and powerful diesel engine. Sophisticated 4x4 system to keep car and passengers out of harm's way in most situations. Terrific handling minus typical body-roll associated with SUV designs make it a joy to drive. Packed with passive and active safety features that make it one of the most secure places to be in on the road (rare 5 Star Euro NCAP rating!). Impressive ICE (In-car-entertainment system) and clever Varioflex seating system that can adapt to most kinds of seating and luggage requirements.

What can improve?

Priced too high for it's perceived size. Many find the looks oddball, but I find it unconventionally good-looking. Slightly more ground-clearance for better off-roadability. Better headlamps (the original projector lamps in the Euro-spec models would be better). Sportier colours.

Exteriors (5/5)

5

Interiors (5/5)

5

Ride Quality (5/5)

5

Overall Comments

Although not conforming to traditional SUV designs, the Skoda Yeti cannot be mistaken for any other car in profile or from up front. The distinctive surfboard roof (blacked out A and C pillars do the trick), unique fused fog-lamps and the purposeful 'chin' make it stand out in a crowd. Still, in a market crowded with brawny SUV's, the Yeti does look like a 'friendly pet' instead of intimidating, as is the demand of SUV's. If one can get over the diminutive appearance, it takes little time to appreciate the modest parking and traffic-navigating footprint of this little 'monster'. Typical to VW hallmarks (Skoda is a VW owned brand), build quality is a cut above the rest and has all the feel-goodies such as 'thunking' doors and lustrous paint. Even thoughtful little touches like a full-underbody shield, anti-scratch stickers on the rear fenders, steering-activated cornering-lamps, photo-sensitive rear-view mirrors that darken to reduce glare from headlamps behind - all make their little contributions to give that special feeling for owners. You'll start realizing what you paid for as you get used to the hundreds of features working quietly to make your experience pleasurable. Half-painted bumpers are a grouse with some, but again - very practical. They look purposeful and save you needless worries about brushes and scuffs in everyday traffic/off-roading.

Rated internationally as Skoda's best and at par with the industry-benchmark Audi's, the Yeti has extremely well-built interiors with little area for complaint. Rich leather seats and leather-wrapped steering wheel, high-quality plastic and rubber trims, brilliantly laid out and useable instruments and information panels, touch-screen multimedia center. Also present are plenty of cubbyholes and tucked-away storage under the seat and (rear) a/c vents. There are gripes though. The thick A-pillar creates a major blind-spot on curves, the narrow windshield will have tall drivers crouching to take in full sceneries on a hill-drive, the rear a/c takes away leg-space for the middle passenger already at a premium in a compact shell, and finally, rear seat is slightly low on thigh-support for tall adults, though never really uncomfortable. 7 airbags, active head-restraints, 5 seatbelts and 'feet-coolers' below the front seats still make the Yeti's interiors one of the most desirable places, considering that even the mighty Toyota Fortuner and its ilk have nowhere as much kit as the Yeti, in spite of being much more expensive.

Firm without being harsh. That's the hallmark of a true SPORTS utility vehicle. The ride of the Yeti is always sure-footed without being a compromise. No wallowing or pitching on bad surfaces. It'll hold it's line around bends carrying insane speeds, thanks in no little measure to its clever Haldex Gen 4 drive setup. Power to all four wheels is constantly varied, depending on driving style and surfaces, so you are never short of grip. In the two years I have had the car, I have tried and never managed to throw the vehicle into anything resembling a spin, over loose gravel, wet roads and what have you. If you really want to go all Fast and Furious-y, just switch off TCS (Traction Control) and you'll be Vin Diesel until you switch off the motor or go over the edge. The OEM Goodyear Excellence tyres are mediocre. They wear out quickly and become boomy, spoiling the setup. A quick change to Pirelli P7's solved this recently on my car. However, be warned - owing to atypical tyre size (215/60/16), replacement choices are limited and not in AT specs as this car could do with when venturing off the tarmac. Still, on my recent drive through Zanskar Valley, both tyre (Pirellis) and car held together as if nothing was out of the ordinary.

Skoda have just revealed their 2014 facelift for the Yeti. Looks like they pandered to popular demand and took off the oddball looks of the original monster and tamed it down to more generic Skoda/VW silhouettes. I prefer the current uniqueness, but maybe generic looks will curry more favour with the crowds. For a small-family city-dweller, you need nothing more than the Yeti. With it's pragmatic size, security features, go-anywhere ability, low maintenance (once every 15,000 kms, or roughly twice a year @ 10k/service is comparable to any other brand out there. Sometimes actually cheaper), frugal engine, you don't need much more car than this unless you are routinely into bullying other road-users. Plus, its oddball looks don't make it a car-jack magnet.

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