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2014 Skoda Yeti 4x2 : First Drive

  • Sep 09, 2014
  • 1622 Views
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The Skoda Yeti has always been a very capable machine. However, its small dimensions and relatively high price tag (as it is assembled via the CKD route) left it a bit cold on the sales charts here in India. The Czech car maker is now going to launch a face-lifted version of the car with exterior styling changes and a new clutch. The face-lift has brought the Yeti in sync with Skoda’s new design language, while also giving it a more contemporary front-end design.

Update on 10/09/2014Skoda Yeti face-lift launched at Rs. 18.63 lakh 

We go for a spin in the updated 4x2 Skoda Yeti in and around scenic Srinagar, to understand if the Yeti still has its very unique charm.

 

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Exterior

The Skoda Yeti has always been a funky looking car with its unique design cues consisting of straight lines and radical design cues, such as those angular front windows. This face-lift has incorporated design elements to bring the SUV in sync with Skoda’s new design language. As a result the updated Yeti gets sleeker headlamps that are underscored by thin LED strips, again a new Skoda trademark. The grille has a central recess at the top to accommodate the new Skoda logo, another new Skoda design element.

The new bumper too, unlike on the outgoing model has a sleeker appearance with rectangular air intakes, it’s only the faux silver bull bar around the central air dam that has a chunky SUVish appearance. A big change are the new rectangular fog lamps, the earlier large circular units were a definitive Yeti signature element that some enthusiasts are sad to see no more.

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The side profile of the Yeti gets new alloy wheels, while the wheel archs are now more pronounced to lend a more butch look to the Yeti. The refreshed Yeti also gets a bi-colour roof and ORVM casing theme that applies a different paint shade to the aforementioned sections. The new Yeti also gets a thin aluminum insert on the door beadings.

The Skoda Yeti I was driving had a black base coat with a silver roof and ORVM casings, and as you can see from the images here, the dual paint theme really works for the car and goes with its contemporary nature.

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At the back, the 2014 Skoda Yeti gets new tail lamps with a C-shaped LED light section. The tailgate has a flat top section and sloping lines beside the license plate housing, just like on other new Skodas. The chunky rear bumper incorporates a trapezoidal faux air diffuser with twin tail pipes under the left side, along with reflectors at either end.

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Interior

Inside, the basic layout and design of the cabin remains the same in the updated Yeti. This is a good thing, as good build quality and fit and finish as always been a forte of the Skoda Yeti, and the new car feels well put together with quality materials. Some bits feel a tad hard, but that’s to do with the rough and ready nature of the car, and parts such as the arm rests are trimmed in materials that are designed to be easy to clean.

The dashboard has a dual tone theme with a black top section, faux wood inserts run across the centre and around the centre console, the lower section is finished in beige, as are the door pads. The highlight here is the new three spoke leather wrapped steering wheel that looks upmarket with piano black sections and chrome inserts.

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The 2014 Skoda Yeti comes loaded with equipment such as dual zone climate control, cruise control, automatic headlamps and wipers, two 12V power sockets, rear a/c cents, a cooled and illuminated glovebox, one touch power windows, electrically adjustable and folding ORVMs with memory, electro-chromic rear view mirrors, defogger for the ORVMs, rear defogger and wash wipe, follow me home headlamps, tilt and telescopic adjustable steering wheel, steering mounted audio controls, height adjustable front seat belts, driver information display, type pressure monitoring system and a nice eight-speaker Bolero sound system that can play music off CDs, SD cards and Bluetooth. The unit also has an access point at the bottom of the centre console that can be connected with a cable to play music off a host of devices such as pen drives and iPods. The car also gets keyless start/stop.

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A boon on the updated Skoda Yeti is the 12 way electrically adjustable driver’s seat with bolster adjust and three memory settings. The leather clad seats are comfortable, although you do wish for a longer seat cushion on the rear seats for more under thigh support. The rear seats can be folded to provide 1,485 litres of boot space or removed all together to make room for 1,665 litres of boot space. With the rear seats in place, there is 416 litres of boot space in the Yeti.

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Engine and Gearbox

Under the hood, the face-lifted Skoda Yeti is still powered by the capable 2.0 litre four cylinder 16 valve turbocharged common rail diesel engine. In this 4x2 model, the engine develops 110PS of power @ 4,200 rpm and 250Nm of torque between 1,500 rpm and 2,500 rpm. While that may not sound like much, it’s the real world driveability of this engine that makes it feel punchy and lively even past the 4,500 rpm mark.

The engine does suffer from turbo lag up to 1,800 rpm, but once past the mark, it pulls cleanly and will rev past the 5,000 rpm mark without difficulty. The engine is mated to a slick shifting five-speed manual gearbox that is a joy to use. Gear changes are very accurate and the unit has short throws, making me only happy to put the Yeti in the meat of the power band whenever I wanted to. Thanks to the eager powertrain, getting to triple digit speeds in this SUV is a breeze.

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There were complaints regarding the clutch on the earlier model of the Yeti, about it being too heavy and making the car prone to stalling. Skoda has now updated the clutch, and I must say it feels light for a unit hooked to a 2.0 litre diesel engine. I did need to use a tiny bit extra pressure on the throttle to keep the engine from stalling while in low revs, but it’s something that is easy to get accustomed to.

The only glitch here is turbo lag below 1,800 rpm. You need to work the gearbox to keep it above the mark to keep the car within the usable part of the power band.

All in all, the engine and gearbox combination of the 2014 Skoda Yeti is commendable. The way you can slot through the gears with the light clutch and accurate gearbox is rewarding, considering the lively nature of the engine.

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I also love the exhaust note on the Yeti. Whenever you accelerate, there is a sporty note that sounds rather pleasing.

One of the best parts about this powertrain is the fact that there is no price to pay for the lively performance it offers, as the Yeti 4x2 has an ARAI specified fuel efficiency figure of 17.72 km/l, making it the most fuel efficient SUV in its segment.

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Ride and Handling

The monocoque chassis of the Skoda Yeti is under pinned by a McPherson strut suspension with triangular lower links at the front with torsion stabilizer bar and a multi-element rear axle with one longitudinal and three transverse links at the rear along with a torsion stabilizer bar.

The Skoda Yeti has been stiffly sprung, something that works to the SUV’s favour on the handling front. The 215/60 R16 section tyres provide good grip, which along with the suspension setup allow you to carry good speeds around bends (the Yeti has a 195/60 R16 section steel rim spare wheel). Confidence is further inspired by the well weighed steering unit that provides good feedback. Put together a string of bends, and the Yeti will power through with commendable poise and balance. Its compact dimensions only adding to the fun to drive character of the SUV.

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As much as I love the positive handling traits of the Yeti, I do wish Skoda had made the suspension setup just a little bit softer to allow the SUV to still have its commendable drive dynamics but with better cushioning. The ride is firm, but it’s not uncomfortable as such. It’s only sharp bumps that really tend to jolt the car and result in quite a thud from the suspension at lower speeds. Go heavy on the throttle and the suspension dismisses road imperfections with aplomb, giving it good high speed stability.

Stopping power is provided by disc brakes all around. The brakes are effective and provide adequate stopping power even in the wet, preventing any sort of drama under slippery conditions.

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Safety

The Skoda Yeti comes with a five star EuroNCAP safety rating, making it a very safe vehicle in its segment. The body shell has impact beams and crumple zones to protect occupants in the event of an incident. Active safety features aboard the Skoda Yeti include dual front airbags, side front airbags and and curtain airbags for front and rear passengers. The Yeti is offered with anti-lock brakes, anti-slip regulation (ASR), stability control, mechanical brake assistant and hill descent control. There is a fuel supply cut off function in the event of an accident. The SUV also gets front and rear parking sensors with audio warnings and a display on the stereo.

There are under body protection covers for the engine, gearbox and rear suspension arms.

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Verdict

The face-lifted Skoda Yeti with its sleeker design cues is definitely more contemporary looking than the outgoing model. The double barrel headlamps with the daytime running LEDs and the sleek rectangular fog lamps give the new Yeti a more upmarket appearance. The redesigned tail lamps look more upmarket too. And the dual tone paint theme does give the Yeti a very funky appearance.

That said, the 2014 Skoda Yeti is going to be available solely in top-end Elegance trim. This is only going to add to the woes about the Yeti’s premium pricing.

However, when it comes to drive dynamics, the Skoda Yeti is right up there in its segment. For those looking at a funky premium SUV that is well equipped, safe, economical and fun to drive, the face-lifted Skoda Yeti is just the right package.
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