The funky, rebellious Skoda Yeti is here

The Skoda Yeti has been groomed to suit the taste of traditionalists in its 2014 avatar

Skoda India invited us to Kashmir, in the lap of the Himalayas, the abode of the Abominable Snowman, which lends the Yeti its interesting name. Amid wet, rugged terrain, minor intermittent landslides and scarily violent, overflowing streams in view, we piloted the new 2014 Skoda Yeti through an atypically challenging Kashmiri weather for this time of the year. Here’s how the stocky little thing fared in the exigent habitat of its mysterious namesake.

The Skoda Yeti. Pics/Amit Chhangani
Pics/Amit Chhangani

Design and styling
The previous Yeti exuded loads of character. It was a non-conformist design with a quirkily-styled fascia lending it its unique personality. For its 2014 avatar, the wild Yeti seems to have been groomed to appeal more to the conformists.

To achieve this, the new Yeti gets new headlamps with a nearly straight outline. Below the headlamps, the car now features new straight LED Daytime Running Lights. The new fog lamps are now narrow and rectangular in shape to lend a wider stance to the car. The shape of the chrome radiator grille rim is new, and it forms a trough at the top to create space for the Skoda logo, which was earlier borne by the grille itself. All these changes work towards lending the Yeti’s face a cleaner, if a bit less funky look, making it more recognisable as a Skoda product in a fleeting glance.

The three-spoke steering is all-new. Tyre pressure monitoring system reset button, an MDI socket and steel pedal set are some other clearly visible changes
The three-spoke steering is all-new. Tyre pressure monitoring system reset button, an MDI socket and steel pedal set are some other clearly visible changes 

In side view, the new Yeti gets reshaped fenders, silver-coloured ORVMs and silver inserts on door mouldings as differentiators from the previous version. The 4x4 and 4x2 variants are further differentiated by the 10-spoke ‘Forest’ and 5-spoke ‘Dolomite’ alloys respectively.

At the rear, the new Yeti now features the characteristic Skoda C-shaped tail-lamps with LED illumination. The bumper is restyled with the reflector elements having been moved higher up for better visibility. The tail-gate has been restyled, too, with upwards tapering creases flanking the registration plate. Even the faux diffuser is new.

The daytime-running LEDs are shaped straight, and look striking in the dark
The daytime-running LEDs are shaped straight, and look striking in the dark 

Skoda will offer the Yeti with a contrasting roof available in black/white/silver shades. The funky styling element adds loads of character and attitude to the car’s exterior.

Cabin, comfort and features
Inside the cabin, Skoda has introduced a whole bunch of new features. The most striking alteration is the introduction of the new three-spoke, leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel. Cruise Control is a new inclusion on the Yeti and the controls are provided on the lights stalk below the steering.

The fabulous-sounding Bolero audio system on the Yeti is now offered with Bluetooth connectivity. In addition, Skoda has also introduced a Multimedia Device Interface socket on the Yeti’s centre console. MDI allows you to easily play music from external device (MP3 player, cell phone) in your car. Other new inclusions on the dashboard include a keyless entry and stop start system. Tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS) has also been introduced with a dedicated reset button on the centre console.

A sporty touch to the interior is the steel pedal set with rubber ribs. The driver’s seat is now powered and also features memory for three positions.

The new Yeti now comes with power foldable external RVMs and a table function on the rear central armrest with twin cup-holders. The car also comes with the incredibly flexible Varioflex seat concept which allows you to either fold the seats flat in a 40:20:40 ratio or remove them completely to fit in a bunch of mountain bikes.

Engine, transmission and performance
Like its predecessor, the Yeti continues to be available with the 2.0-litre TDI engine in two states of tune. For the 4x2 variant, the engine produces a peak power of 110PS @ 4,200 rpm and peak torque rated at 250Nm between 1,500-2,500 rpm. The 4x4 version, on the other hand gets a more powerful version of the engine with 140PS on tap, produced at 4200 rpm, while an impressive 320Nm of peak torque is produced at 1,750-2,500 rpm.

The radiator grille is all-new. The front bumper, and the shape and location of the front lamps have also been changed
The radiator grille is all-new. The front bumper, and the shape and location of the front lamps have also been changed 

While the 4x2 variant comes with a 5-speed transmission, the 4x4 variant comes equipped with a 6-speed manual transmission. We drove the 4x2 variant for this drive. At 110 PS, the power may not sound too enticing for a vehicle that weighs close to one and a half ton, but in practice, the Yeti even with the lesser of the two engines is a fun machine to drive. There is some turbo lag to be experienced, and the engine pulls with force only once the turbo has properly spooled up post the 2,000 rpm mark.

The clutch on the new Yeti is lighter as compared with the previous version. Except that, the drive feel remains more or less the same as on the earlier model — the best for any mainstream SUV.

Quite honestly, there isn’t another SUV this side of R20 lakh which can match the Yeti for grip, involving steering and fantastic poise.

Ride and handling
The new Yeti keeps the capable underpinnings of its predecessor, which means that the handling is quite unparalleled up to the segment the vehicle represents in the SUV class. The suspension feels stiff at slow speeds, especially at the backseat, but the ride quality gets better as the speed increases. The stiffly sprung suspension which doesn’t feel very plush at slow speeds, lends this compact SUV fantastic road manners when driven hard.

Skoda offers the Yeti with the roof painted in contrasting colours, adding to the visual appeal of the vehicle
Skoda offers the Yeti with the roof painted in contrasting colours, adding to the visual appeal of the vehicle

The real beauty of this machine is about the way it handles at speed and around corners. A flat wide stance, low centre of gravity and oodles of grip from those 205 section tyres make the Yeti an extremely well-poised machine.

The body roll, for a segment that the Yeti represents is ludicrously minimal, the steering precision delightful. It’s a fun to drive machine which can off-road to a reasonable extent.

Our verdict
Yeti’s solid build quality, uncompromised engineering and generous list of features make it a product which cannot match its pretender counterparts on price. The CKD route adopted for the car’s assembly in India also attracts more duty than on the models which are fully manufactured here. All that in a country where giant-sized tin boxes attract more buyers than a proper, well engineered automobile means that the Yeti will appeal only to a discerning few. The ones who buy it would be the erudite car aficionados. They will choose it for its versatility, engineering and poise.

4x2 Elegance: Rs 18.6 lakh
4x4 Elegance: Rs 20.14 lakh

Technical specs
Engine — 2.0 litre turbo diesel
Power — 110 PS @ 4,000 rpm (4x2) / 140 PS @ 4,000 rpm (4x4)
Torque — 250 NM @1,500-2,500 rpm (4x2) / 320Nm @ 1,750-2,500 rpm (4x4)

The rivals

XUV 500
The indigenously developed XUV 500 from Mahindra made an ambitious start, offering a powerful 140PS engine, along with a whole host of cutting edge features. Boasting an aggressive stance and solid proportions (albeit with some amateurish design elements), the XUV soon became a hit with the Indians. The popularity of the big seven-seater, however, dwindled with the emergence of the Duster. Due for a mid-life facelift soon, the XUV500 makes a lot of sense for the value-seekers.
Price: Rs 10.8-14.6 lakh

Toyota Fortuner
The big, brawny SUV from Toyota has been a runaway success for the Japanese carmaker despite its high selling price. Available in both 4x2 and 4x4 variants, the Fortuner is powered by a massive 3.0-litre D-4D diesel power-plant producing 169bhp of class leading power. Reliability and trouble free ownership experience are a given, the SUV being a Toyota. The Fortuner, however, doesn’t score very highly in terms of equipment and features on offer for the price.
Price: Rs 22.2-24.2 lakh

Safari Storme
The good old Safari reincarnated itself as the Safari Storme a couple of years back. While the new model appears somewhat similar to the previous version, under the skin, it’s an all-new machine. Boasting a brand new monocoque chassis, a powerful engine and loads of new features, the Storme presents itself as a solid contender in the SUV arena. Big on space, comfort and value, the Safari should appeal to those who want a brawny, full-size SUV for a decent price.
Price: Rs 9.9-13.6 lakh

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