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Little Yeti is a beast inside
Skoda Yeti. Supplied picture

Small SUVs have been morphing into city wagons with a slightly jacked-up appearance as new models have come on to the market.

It's a move driven by the fact that the vast majority of these vehicles never get taken off the bitumen. I am not convinced many of them ever leave the confines of the city.

So when Skoda entered the market with the Yeti it was good to see a vehicle that was obviously designed with off-road use in mind. It may not be the prettiest SUV available, but it has an appealing ruggedness.

The car provided for test was the new mid-spec 112TSI 4WD powered by the same 1.8-litre turbocharged petrol engine you will find in the mid-sized Octavia and big Superb sedan. It was matched to a six-speed DSG transmission that changed gears smoothly in most circumstances.

It was also fitted with a Haldex clutch and limited-slip differential that pushes 96 per cent of the power to the front wheels in most day-to-day driving but can direct up to 90 per cent of power to the back wheels if needed, which makes it a capable little off-road vehicle.

While I did not get a chance to take it bush on this test drive, I did get first-hand experience of its capabilities at the launch earlier this year. Despite its brick-ish appearance, the Yeti is at the sharp end of the segment for vehicle dynamics and driver comfort.

During the test period my fuel consumption was 8.6L/100km, which is very close to the official figure. While a low ride height may restrict the Yeti in some extreme off-road conditions, it made it a very easy car to get in and out of.

The cabin is well finished, with plenty of soft plastics, and the seats are comfortable with good adjustment.

The level of equipment is lineball with most of its Korean and Japanese rivals, and includes a good audio system, dual-zone climate-control and a simple-to- operate Bluetooth phone system.

Where the Yeti does have a distinct advantage over its rivals is in the clever VarioFlex seating arrangement that enables the seats to be positioned with more than 20 configurations, from reclined to folded flat or removed completely.

With the rear row of seats up, boot space is 415 litres, but can be anywhere from 310 to 1665 litres depending on the seating layout.

LOWDOWN - SKODA YETI



Model
4WD 112TSI
Price $35,290
Engine 1.8-litre turbocharged four-cylinder
Outputs 112kW/250Nm
Transmission Six-speed DSG auto
Thirst 8.2L/100km (premium fuel)