By on January 15, 2014

Yeti_15

Remember the time when you bought sport utility vehicles because you needed them? These were the original “off-roaders”, boxy beasts with live axles, low-range gearboxes, locking diffs and other very masculine stuff that’s perfect for adventures that require a farm tractor to rescue you from the mud. It was also very practical, because it basically looked like a huge box on wheels, with a smaller box in front for the engine. It was great.

When I think of an off-roader, I think of the Jeep Cherokee, before it became a jacked-up Alfa Romeo hatchback devoid of manly stuff like big levers to select 4WD modes. It even rides comfortably, which, of course, means it is a piece of junk, since it won’t be able to go rock-crawling and it won’t show your pals that you are the manly man by being noisy and uncomfortable.

Fortunately for us Europeans, we can buy something which works much better as a Cherokee replacement than the actual Cherokee. It is boxy, which makes it look kinda butch, and it has high ground clearance with short overhangs, which makes you actually believe it may be useful off-road. Also, it is unbelievably spacious for its diminutive size. So, it basically doesn’t matter that it’s basically a last generation Golf underneath. Which should mean that it basically sucks outside of paved roads.

This time, I didn’t have time or courage (because I suck at it) to really try the Yeti off-road. But when I drove the pre-facelift one, we staged a comparison with UAZ Patriot, which is some kind of Russian pseudo-military Land Cruiser wannabe, with all the manly stuff the proper off-roader should have. We took it to a highway construction site, where we tried to climb slopes and drive through stuff. Several times, I was totally convinced that I would get stuck, or that I’ll hopelessly slide back, maybe even rolling the car in the process. In fact, had it been mine, I would never attempt most of those stunts – I wouldn’t dare, fearing that I break something. But only when I went several levels above my comfort zone, I managed to get it stuck, having to back down the steep slope. And when I did, I was a few feet higher than the UAZ besides me, trying to do the same thing.

Which basically means that if your average driver, driving a non-rental, non-press-fleet car, you stand very little chance of finding the Yeti’s off-road limits. While it lacks all the cool levers and pieces of machinery, the Haldex four-wheel drive in connection with the DS fake limited-slip diff (and short overhangs) will get it to places where you wouldn’t expect it to go (well, just watch out for uneven surfaces – the smell of burning clutch with XDS active is a bit alarming).

So, you can concentrate on the really important stuff. How does it drive in day-to-day use? To get a rough idea, imagine a Golf VI on stilts. And made a bit more boxier than it already is. The boxiness allowed ŠKODA to put three individual rear seats with the clever VarioFlex system (allowing them to individually slide and be folded), and gave the car enough room for four large adults. Only the trunk is still about the same size as in the Golf – the price you have to pay for short overhangs.

It also drives a bit like a Golf – just a significantly higher one. It leans significantly more when cornering, but even to achieve this level of stability, it required a bit stiffer suspension. Which means that on 17” wheels, it’s not especially comfortable. Even compared to the much cheaper Rapid family liftback I tested last time, the Yeti’s ride is quite jittery on rough surfaces, and leaving pavement for really broken dirt roads forces you to slow down to a crawl out of fear that you destroy your expensive wheels. Not very off-road like, to be honest.

But otherwise, it’s just a typical VW product. Nicely weighed steering, well-made interior that looks just like a European VW, or a slightly worse Audi (I guess it’ll be on par with US VWs). You just have to avoid the fake wood, probably made off some 1990s leftovers. But you get lots of clever details, like wastebin, warning vest holder etc. The Yeti clearly doesn’t like driving fast very much, but if you push it, it is quite competent.

Only other problem comes with the fact that Yeti is high and boxy. Even with famed 2.0 TDI engine and 7-speed DSG transmission, it is quite thirsty. If you’re going for SUV because of practicality, you’ll be disappointed – the Yeti is significantly less frugal than, say, a Octavia or European VW Passat wagon, which both offer significantly more interior space. Most of the time, it gets about 30mpg and reaching advertised 37mpg is possible only with real light right foot. Also, the Yeti isn’t exactly cheap – although one would hardly call it “expensive” either. Spec-for-spec, it’s always a bit more expensive than the Golf and the Octavia. Base price for this version, the top Elegance trim level with highest powered 2.0 TDI/170hp with DSG transmission and 4×4 is roughly $30k excluding VAT. The “journo-spec” car I tested, complete with panoramic roof, automatic parking and other goodies is closing $40k. A base 4×4 with manual transmission and 110hp diesel will cost about $21k excluding tax, the poverty-spec FWD with 1.2 TSI/105hp engine can be had for about $14k without taxes – which is about the price of a base Golf.

Jeremy Clarkson once, probably only half-jokingly, called Yeti the best car in the world. I disagree with him – it takes one of the most universal cars in the world, the VW Golf, and makes it even more universal, but it also makes it worse in some areas. You won’t have any fun driving it on the road, and it will cost you more to run. And if you wanted an SUV just because it looks cool, it isn’t worth it (although it’s still better than buying an Audi Q3, in which you won’t fit). But if you need SUV to actually go off the road, the Yeti makes fantastic sense. It works 90% like a Golf, and it just happens to be quite a bit more spacious, and hugely competent off-road to boot.

It’s the car the new Jeep Cherokee should’ve been.

@VojtaDobes is motoring journalist from Czech Republic, who previously worked for local editions of Autocar and TopGear magazines. Today, he runs his own website, www.Autickar.cz and serves as editor-in-chief at www.USmotors.cz. After a failed adventure with importing classic American cars to Europe, he is utterly broke, so he drives a borrowed Lincoln Town Car. His previous cars included a 1988 Caprice in NYC Taxi livery, a hot-rodded Opel Diplomat, two Dodge Coronets, a Simca, a Fiat 600 and Austin Maestro. He has never owned a diesel, manual wagon.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

48 Comments on “Review: ŠKODA Yeti 2.0 TDI DSG 4×4...”


  • avatar
    Wacko

    slap a VW badge on it and bring it to north america.
    also spotted a panther in the 4th last pic, where is this.

    • 0 avatar
      Vojta Dobeš

      I was wondering how long it will take before someone notices the Panther. It’s the Town Car I drive daily, and the pics are taken in front of my home in Pardubice, Czech Republic.

    • 0 avatar
      Toad

      The Yeti looks like it would fill a gaping hole in VW’s US product lineup. It would also make a nice move-up vehicle for younger VW owners who outgrow their GTI, want a CUV/SUV, but still like the Golf platform.

      I’d really like to hear the business case against bringing this car to the US and Canada; I can’t think of what it could be.

      • 0 avatar
        993cc

        Frankly, I think VW would do well to replace their entire North American line up with Skodas, but I suspect they sell well enough in Europe that production capacity would be a problem.

        Offer me a Citigo and a Roomster TDi, and I’m right there.

        • 0 avatar
          bumpy ii

          I’d keep the higher-end stuff VW sells now, but yeah, building VW-badged Skodas in Chattanooga would have been a better choice than decontented Passats and Jettas.

      • 0 avatar
        bumpy ii

        MSRP would start at $40,000 US, $55,000 in Canada, and popular options would add another $10k to that. VW fans might buy it anyway, but everyone else would get a 4Runner or Xterra.

        • 0 avatar
          th009

          Based on what? As Vojta says in the article, the top-spec model is $30K in the Czech Republic — and prices in the US are typically lower anyway.

        • 0 avatar
          Vojta Dobeš

          Spec-for-spec, it costs about the same as a Golf. So I think it’s fair assumption that a Yeti would cost around 30 grand in 4×4 TDI guise. The biggest problem is probably that it would be too close to Tiguan.

          • 0 avatar
            mike978

            I agree with the idea of bringing some of Skoda’s line up over here. The Fabia, Octavia and Yeti would be good additions, already engineered and paid for. VW should look into this when the next generations of these vehicles come out and ensure they are US compliant.

          • 0 avatar
            993cc

            “too close to Tiguan”…of which VW sells about five per year! Cancel the Tiguan. (Yes, I don’t know what I’m talking about here, these are just my prejudices)

            My Fantasy “VW” lineup would be: Citigo, Golf/GTi, Beetle/convertible, Octavia/Octavia Variant, Yeti, Roomster, Superbe, CC, Crossblue

          • 0 avatar
            Toad

            The Tiguan looks like every other CUV, except it’s uglier. The Yeti looks different in a practical, somewhat more masculine way. Sort of like an Isuzu Trooper that went on a diet.

            I like it. Keep the Yeti name, and bring it here.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        You’re absolutely right about needing this for the gap in VW-USA.

    • 0 avatar
      honda_lawn_art

      Sounds just like a Tiguan to me, but looks worse and more cramped. Tiguan’s a great car, probably not much off road; I’ll never know, my mom has one but it’ll see about as much off road action as dad’s Passat.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Re-badging gone amok!!

  • avatar
    seth1065

    I hear what your saying I was in turkey last week playing tourist and met a local he has a Mitsubishi
    Pajero/ in the us it was a Montero 20 years old and it was in great shape, it was a mans SUV, compass, 4wd locking wheels high low and damm I wanted to come back to the states and find one as a winter beater, a great guys truck and I am not a SUV fan at all.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    Short overhangs don’t mean diddly of it still has plastic going halfway down the front and back of the wheels.

    Can that front end rest on a log/boulder while the back wheels push the vehicle up it without damage?

    No matter what it’s made for that suspension type should be very comfortable and behaved on the road, that tells me its quality is poor if it can’t make a unibody crossover ride well.

    Edit: here’s a short overhang
    http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=CXvxIy4YupI

  • avatar
    Maymar

    So, boxy, based on an economy car, and surprisingly competent offroad should be the criteria for a Jeep Cherokee? And here I thought the Patriot was accepted as an abomination.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I never found the Patriot to be all that abominable…the Compass is another story.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      Having watched a new Cherokee put thru its off-road paces on Motorweek last night, I can’t see the complaints. The driver was certainly taking it thru rougher terrain than either myself or my wife put our two Cherokee’s thru during the time we had them. He was definitely going thru stuff a lot harder than driving down the local two-track fire road.

      OK, so the new Cherokee isn’t going to be a first choice candidate for 6″ lift kits, 35″ wheels, and all the other massive hard-core off-road accessories. Isn’t that what the Wrangler’s for? The Cherokee does off-road. Like a proper Jeep. 99% of all buyers in that size want the convenience rather than the hardcore. And the remaining 1% won’t buy new to convert it over.

      • 0 avatar
        Maymar

        I got to see a new Cherokee last week and in a lot of ways, it feels like a natural extension of the current Grand Cherokee – similar materials and features, rides comperably, and you’re right, by most accounts, it’s an excellent off-roader. It even looks more interesting than hideous in real life.

        And that’s closer to what the market wants – if the people wanted something sensible and utilitarian, they’d buy minivans. The people want suburban mall crawlers, that also have ground clearance and AWD, because, reasons?

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Wow…imagine that, a compact SUV with distinctive, attractive styling. Radical concept, eh?

    But that name is unforgivable.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    Thank you Vojta for a clever review.

    And even though English is not your first language -I assume, you do write an excellent prose.

    For mean looking and capable off-roaders, one has to look no further than another Czech company, Tatra.

  • avatar
    NN

    love the Yeti, and would highly consider it were I living in Europe. I even like that color. What was the price tag on that example, and what is the diesel mileage?

    • 0 avatar
      Vojta Dobeš

      I have added a part about pricing and MPGs to the article.

      • 0 avatar
        tankinbeans

        I’m curious if your MPG figures are in US gallons or imperial. I only ask because 30 MPG(US gallons), to me, seems decent for a vehicle of that type. Then again, I haven’t really researched them much because I have no need at the moment.

        My boxed-in American perspective notwithstanding.

  • avatar
    jhefner

    Where is the spare tire? It obviously isn’t hanging off the back like an Ecosport, but don’t see it underneath or inside either.

    Good article Vojta; thanks.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    “He has never owned a diesel, manual wagon.”

    Isn’t that grounds for deportation? You may consider contacting the US embassy and requesting asylum.

    • 0 avatar
      jhefner

      Nah; I believe he owned a manual, diesel Mondeo and wrote an article disparaging American’s facination with brown diesel wagons; but it was black, not brown.

      • 0 avatar
        Vojta Dobeš

        The Mondeo from the article was just borrowed for a test. I owned a silver, automatic diesel hatchback Mondeo, along with a diesel, manual W123 sedan, I owned Ford Taunus manual wagon (not diesel), I also owned a brown Buick Century Wagon with 3800 V6 and automatic… but never a diesel, manual wagon :)

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          “I owned a silver, automatic diesel hatchback Mondeo, along with a diesel, manual W123 sedan”

          In that case, you can forget all about the asylum request. We don’t want your kind here!

        • 0 avatar
          993cc

          “but never a diesel, manual wagon :)” Why, then, should we listen to ANYTHING you have to say?

          I kid. Thank you for broadening our perspectives.

          Sincerely, Diesel Manual Wagon (not brown, sorry,) owner.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    How about some pics of the UAZ?

    I like this car a lot, except for the VW powertrain/drivetrain ( reliability concerns).

    Jeep Patriot compares closely to it here, I was surprised that you could actually get the 5spd manual with 4wd, although without the factory lift kit. Subaru Forester is another analogue.

    The concept of a genuinely capable and utilitarian unibody fwd-based crossover has massive appeal to me. Cherokee is too expensive and posh, Patriot is spot on but the cargo space is severely lacking. I currently have 2 cars to cover my bases, my Civic for reliable and efficient commuting, and my old 4runner for hauling large things, and for getting to hiking trail heads/camping/canoe trips. It’s also fun to come to the rescue of stranded motorists with a tow strap :) I’ve been thinking that a new gen Forester would be the perfect crossroads of the two. But i have to admit, I’m drawn to my 4runner’s massive tires and prodigious clearance just for aesthetic reasons. The truck suspension that feels so clumsy on-road comes into its element on rutted rocky trails where it feels indestructible. Working on a ladder frame SUV with a longitudinally mounted V6 is a treat as well.

  • avatar
    Onus

    The hatch is quite small i must admit. I can fit my carry on airplane bag and thats about it.

    I wouldn’t describe the ride as rough. On unplowed Russian winter roads it seemed smooth to me.

    Then again driving a 3/4 ton American pickup truck around everything feels smooth in comparison.

    I’d still take the UAZ as you can get one for $10,000 something and dirt dirt cheap on the used market.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      Woah there, I was talking about the Jeep Patriot and its lack of cargo space, The UAZ is absolutely commodious by any possible metric. There’s a massive cube of space, similar to an Isuzu Trooper. The Jeep patriot only has 23 cu ft, way less than most CUVs like the rav4 and CRV, which have 33-34ish. I have no doubt that the Uaz Patriot is more like 45+ cu ft with the seats in place.

      linkhttp://www.autobible.ru/images/articles/russian/uaz/uaz-3163-patriot-02.jpg

      That’s a pretty huge trunk, can’t imagine having trouble only putting an airplane bag in there.

  • avatar
    Featherston

    “Remember the time when you bought sport utility vehicles because you needed them?” No, I don’t.

  • avatar

    I remember the “Top Gear” episode where Clarkson hailed the Yeti as the best car in the world and attempted to confirm this by driving over plowed fields while one of the passengers on the back seat was getting a tattoo. Needless to say there was a lot of blood spurting and that was yet another moment when “Top Gear” jumped the shark, making everyone involved look like complete idiots, a reputation the team continues to maintain and even burnish.

    I recently had a drive in a new Octavia wagon and thought it was terrific. I rented the previous model last year in France and liked it too but the new interior is far more pleasant. Something like 80% of the Octavias sold in Germany, where it is pretty popular, are wagons. Nobody would buy one in North America but on the other hand I can imagine the Yeti selling well in the USA if the price was competitive.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      And yet they are well watched and are ahead of the curve in things like spotting the impact Dacia could have and the negative impact of manufacturers chasing N-ring times.

  • avatar
    Nostrathomas

    Holy crap, a crossover that you can actually see out of.

    This thing is downright handsome. I’d still buy the Octavia Wagon over it, but it’s handsome.

  • avatar
    Littlecarrot

    A few years ago my wife and I spent about a week driving (in a Fabia) through the Czech Republic looking for ancestors. The nicest part of the entire journey was our tour of the Skoda factory. I could tell that the Czechs took great pride in the fact that their product was sometimes superior to the similar VW product. During a Q and A session after the tour, one of their executives stated in no uncertain terms would Skoda ever be coming to the US. Apparently their focus is on the eastern markets. Although I’d love to own a Skoda, we have a brown TDI manual sportwagen that will do for now. My grandfather’s name was Vojta too!

  • avatar
    Johann

    I own one of these – a 2,0 TDI DSG Elegance. Best car I’ve ever owned. You say it is boring in the handling department and leans more than a Golf? Well erm doh, of course it will lean more than a Golf BUT does it lean more than a Sportage, an iX35 or any of the other small crossovers in this segment? Nope. Every test over the last four years compliments this car’s handling and how sporty it feels – firm yes but not remotely as firm as the Audi I had before this. No wonder it came top of ANY car sold in the UK in the Auto Express magazine Driver Power Survey two years running. Out of nearly 30,000 people completing the survey voting on handling, reliability, build quality, performance, etc, etc!

    It came first in 2013 and 2012:

    http://www.autoexpress.co.uk/car-news/driver-power/63990/best-car-2013

    http://www.autoexpress.co.uk/best-cars/14931/best-car-2012

    And came second in 2011:

    http://www.autoexpress.co.uk/best-cars/14924/top-100

    I’ve never owned a car that’s like a mini Golf GTI in the Welsh country roads one moment and the very next it takes me up a mountain track all the way to the top without complaint.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Very nice job on your photos Vojta.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Authors

  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Faisal Ali Khan, India