History does repeat itself. OK, it’s unlikely we’ll see a re-run of the Glencoe Massacre and there can only be one first man on the moon but some things do have a habit of coming back again and again.
The first time I drove a Skoda Yeti was in the Highlands a few years ago after a week or so of thunderstorms and torrential rain. The people from Skoda had done a brilliant job in laying out a demanding road route of hills, single track roads and a few bursts of dual carriageway.
They’d gone to extraordinary lengths to create a testing offroad track as well, which included a dip of the wheels into the gently lapping Loch Ness. Unfortunately, by the time we arrived, the loch had filled up considerably, which made the offroad course decidedly challenging. We needn’t have worried. The Yeti took it all in its capable stride.
Fast forward some years and I was in the deepest Cotswolds to cast my eye over the latest Yeti. The previous model was tough, but Skoda feel there are people out there who want something even more able to handle the rough stuff, which is why they’ve launched the beefier Outdoor, alongside the new standard model. Once again, the heavens had opened, and emptied almost continuously for months before, and what should have been a straightforward, if muddy, off-road course had turned into a vast quagmire.
If I’d had any doubts about whether this latest machine could tackle what lay before us, they were soon dispelled. Wearing only road standard winter tyres, the Yeti Outdoor dealt with everything that came its way without any real effort on my part. In fact, all I had to do was press the new all-purpose offroad button which deploys the complete set of intelligent functions designed for difficult, slippery surfaces. In one move, it called on Uphill Start Assist; Downhill Assist, which works even with the gear in neutral; ABS off-road; ASR off-road, which improves acceleration on slippery surfaces; and EDS off-road which maintains permanent traction to brake the slipping wheels and maintain stability.
You don’t need any previous offroad experience to feel the benefits and it’s the latest confirmation in my mind that cars are steadily becoming cleverer than the people driving them.
If you’re a real tough mudder, then there’s also a £200 rough road package which gives more protection to the vulnerable underbody bits and includes a reinforced brake fluid distribution system and handbrake cable.
The standard Yeti is available in two-wheel drive for people who like the high ride height and improved visibility of an SUV but for around £1,600 more you can have the reassurance and added security of the excellent Haldex clutch four-wheel drive system.
The new-look Yeti has been smartened up and is clearly the posh country cousin of the rest of the impressive Skoda range. It has the distinctive front end corporate look but with new bumpers, rectangular and larger headlights and a radiator grille enclosed by a chrome frame. You can tell the Standard and Outdoor apart through subtle differences at the front and side mouldings. The Outdoor also has shorter overhangs front and rear tackle steep inclines and drops. There’s a huge amount of new standard equipment but the prices have gone up by only £700 so there’s some real value for money in the latest package. The Greenline version of the test car is the most efficient in fuel economy and low emissions. It has a chassis 2.5cms lower to optimise airflow under the vehicle and improved aerodynamics and, coupled with start/stop and a longer final-drive ratio and lower engine idle speed, fuel consumption is reduced.
The 4x4 is an impressive machine which is why the majority of the 12,000 Yetis expected to take to British roads this year will be that version… with their owners setting off with confidence to take their Outdoors into the great outdoors.
Price £21,365 (£22,610 as tested)
Engine 1.6l, 4cyl, turbodiesel, 103bhp, 184lb ft
Performance Max speed 109mph; 0-62mph 12 secs
MPG: 61mpg combined
CO2 emissions 119g/km