By Patrick James on 2010-04-04 - The author has been a motoring writer for more than 16 years. Formerly motoring editor at the Coventry Telegraph, he now produces motoring copy, on new car launches and road tests on a freelance basis.
Skoda Yeti 1.2 TSI
SKODA'S newest model is arguably its finest effort yet but the firm must be hoping there will be more sightings of the Yeti.
Named after the mythical Abominable Snowman the firm's clever TV adverts tell us its out there.
But so far, they are few and far between and that is not because they are big, hairy and abominable, or because they have big feet, but because they were only launched in September last year.
This is the fifth car in the Skoda range, joining the Fabia, the Octavia, the Roomster and the Superb and it really is a fine effort with a product that has gatecrashed the rapidly-expanding crossover segment of the market.
It is firmly targeting brand leaders like the excellent Nissan Qashqai and the equally good Peugeot 3008 with a choice of diesel and petrol engines and two and four wheel drive variants and a choice of and E, S, SE and Elegance trims.
Prices start from £13,775 rising to £22,170. A lot of cash, many still believe, for a Skoda, which still faces brand resistance in some quarters.
It may, from a distance, look vaguely like the Qashqai cousin, the Nissan X-Trail, but the Yeti is also available as a two-wheel drive vehicle. This has obvious attractions when it comes to buying and running the car, particularly with road tax and fuel costs.
It also satisfies people's needs to be seen in what appears to be an off-road vehicle with its high ground clearance, muscular looks and commanding driving position.
But this car is offers much more. Powered by excellent engines from parent company Volkswagen, the Yeti is hugely practical and capable of carrying large payloads.
This model offered terrific performance from what is a small petrol engine.
The VW-sourced 105bhp 1.2 litre TSI engine is the alternative to the bigger 1.8 litre petrol unit and two litre diesel and produces remarkable acceleration, excellent economy and low CO2 emissions.
That 1.2 litre unit does not sound anything like powerful enough, particularly when it has to haul nearly two tonnes in weight, plus whatever is in the car.
Accelerating from 0-60 takes what seems like a pedestrian 11.8 seconds, but it feels a lot sharper and is capable of 110 mph, where permitted.
This meants economy of 44mph is easily achievable and the engine only really runs out of puff on steeper inclines.
Ride and handling are good, but there is wind noise evident and hint of road noise.The practicality of the Yeti is immediately obvious.
It has a generous boot, even with the rear seats in place, but the clever, folding, sliding and removable Varioflex seating means the interior can be adapted to take virtually any shaped load required.
These seats can be slid backwards and forwards, reclined, rolled up or completely removed with endless combinations available.
Skoda now matches its parent company VW with the quality of fixtures and fittings and the general quality feel of the interior and the Elegance test model boasts just about the all the creature comforts.
These include roof rails, electric windows and heated door mirrors, air con driver and passenger airbags.
Move to the top of the range and you get leather upholstery, mobile phone with Bluetooth connectivity, side, curtain and knee airbags with stability control and powerful light with headlamp washers plus a host of other goodies that would otherwise add up to thousands of pounds more.
Skoda makes great cars these days, but I think this is my favourite.
£17,995 105bhp, 1,1976cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via six-speed manual gearbox 109 mph 11.8 secs 44.1 4 149g/km 19 per cent 3yrs/ 60,000 miles
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