Skoda Yeti 1.4 TSI first drive

Skoda Yeti 1.4 TSI first drive

No less than Clarkson himself has bestowed the greatest gift on the Skoda Yeti that a car manufacturer can ask for. He liked it.He didn't just like it in the

No less than Clarkson himself has bestowed the greatest gift on the Skoda Yeti that a car manufacturer can ask for. He liked it.He didn't just like it in the same way that any normal person might like a car though. He liked it, Clarkson style. To listen the to the Top Gear curmudgeon might be to imagine that the Yeti is the apotheosis of car manufacturing acumen.Is it? Well, no, but that doesn't mean that the Yeti isn't a fine car in its own right. The first thing Skoda got right with the Yeti was to make it look different from all the other crossover SUVs on the market. It may share its underpinnings wirth the somewhat boring Volkswagen Tiguan, but it looks completely different; in fact it looks different from most cars on the road. It's certainly recognisable as an SUV, but it also looks a little like an estate or MPV, something beyond the usual crossover SUV styling.Straight away, like the Octavia and Superb, Skoda has done something different from the rest of the market - and like those two other cars, it works very well.Step inside the Yeti and the similiarities with the Volkswagen group become more apparent. It's a classic VW interior - and there's nothing wrong with that as Volkswagen interior are generally among the best in the business, for their sector anyway.However, after the unusual exterior it's a bit of letdown to see the fairly bland centre stack and VW parts bin buttons. There are, however, storage areas aplenty. For mobile phones, for loose change, for drink cans. In the back there are fold-down trays built into the front seats, while the middle seat in the back rown doubles up as an arm-rest-cum-drinks-holder. Simple things, but all elelemts that increase the practicality and desirability of the Yeti - especially for families.The rear looks spacious, with outer seats able to move backwards and forwards, while folding down the back row extends storage space enormously - to a potential 1760 litres with seats removed completely.Power in the unit we tested comes from VW's turbo petrol 120bhp TSI engine that's winning plaudits and featuring in numerous cars across the Volkswagen Group family. It will sprint to 62mph in 10.5 seconds and hit a top speed of 115mph, though sprinting and tonning are hardly what you'd buy this Yeti for.Truth be told it feels a little underpowered in the Yeti for my liking, but once the revs are up it's flexible and quick enough - and there are more economical and more powerful models in the range if this one doesn't suit.Power's transmitted through a precise six-speed manual gearbox and the drive feels flexible enough, solid and predictable, but also with enough to keep driver's interested with little body roll and strong cornering - it's based on the Golf after all.Looking at the official figures there's not much in the way of a penalty for plumping for a petrol option, with a quoted 41.5mpg. However we managed to return only 30.3mpg over what a brief drive that was, admittedly, more spirited than leisurely. There's no four-wheel drive to speak of on this model so the Yeti is best kept on the road or asked to perform only light off-road activities.Crucially for road tax and company car tax purposes, carbon dioxide emissions are 159g/km, meaning running costs shouldn't be punitive with a light right foot while driving. Road tax is Band G, meaning an annual tax disc will cost £155.The Yeti should make a lot of sense over middling to long commutes or business trips. It's comfortable and roomy to be in and easy to drive, while it swallow a family and luggage. You can also tow up to 1300kg with this model. What's more the seldom-spotted Yeti is still enough of a rarity on roads to make for an interesting car that should draw admiring glances.At £18,390 for this Skoda Yeti SE Plus there's a lot of car for money - this model includes a multi-functional leather steering wheel, Amundsen satnav, a 6-CD autochanger, aforementioned folding tables, telephone with Bluetooth, electric and aux sockets, dual-zone aircon and electric windows.Most models, like this one, feature driver, passenger, front, side and curtain airbags - plus a driver's knee airbag - as standard.That adds up to an attractive package that should offer a lot more for a lot less when compared to several competitors. It doesn't really excel at anything, but gets on with the job of doing all things sufficiently well - and more often that all that's the best you could wish for from a car. Skoda Yeti Milestones Skoda Yeti SE Plus 1.4 TSI 122PS 6spdCost: £18,390Engine and performance: 1.4 TSI, 122 PS (120bhp), 200Nm; top speed 122mph; 0-62 10.5 seconds; 41.5mpg combined official; 159g/km CO2Running costs: VED Band G - £155 per year; BIK company car tax 22%Load capacity: 416-1,760-litresPros: Spacious, comfortable, well priced, differentCons: Engine feels a little underpowered, fuel economy may differ significantly

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