Wherever you look crossovers and SUVs are everywhere. All shapes and sizes, all drivetrain and powerlines and badges from the lowliest budget brands to the most exclusive luxury marques.
Having driven a good few on short-term test we decided it was time to try what so many British buyers have and live with one for a longer period. Our crossover of choice? The slightly leftfield but hugely popular Skoda Yeti.
In that typically confusing Skoda way, the Yeti refuses to sit neatly in one class or another. Size and price-wise it falls between the two go-to Nissan benchmarks of the Juke and Qashqai. Prices start at £17,770 compared with the Juke’s £14,590 and the Qashqai’s £18.995. Its external dimensions are larger than the Juke but smaller than the Qashqai yet internally, it’s very close to the larger of the Nissans.
Our test car is a Yeti Outdoor SE Drive, coming in at £21,460 including options. That’s a couple of grand less than an equivalently specced Qashqai and around £1,000 less than a SEAT Ateca with much the same equipment, but both those cars are slightly bigger.
Before options, the SE Drive’s £20,095 gets you a healthy list of equipment including dual-zone climate control, heated seats, auto lights and wipers, a heated front windscreen, cruise control and a 6.5-inch touchscreen with DAB, CD and sat nav. The test car’s options run to keyless entry and start, parking assist, hill hold control, a partition net screen and a space saver spare wheel in place of the dreaded gunk/compressor offering.
It’s a good specification, bringing a lot of the most useful and most used convenience features without being overloaded with stuff that does little but push up the price.
What’s more, all the equipment is from the tried and tested VW Group parts bin so we already know it’s well designed, well made and easy to use.
Skoda Yeti Outdoor SE Drive
Engine: 1.2-litre, four-cylinder, turbo, petrol
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Top speed: 111mph
0-62mph: 10.9 seconds
Economy: 51.4mpg combined
CO2 emissions: 128g/km
The current Yeti is nearing the end of its production and so all models are now badged Outdoor and come with the more rugged looks once reserved for the four-wheel-drive models.
It’s here I have a bit of an issue with our test car.
Of all the small-to-mid-sized crossovers, the Yeti is one of the more serious-looking. It has a chunky, square profile with just a hint of Land Rover about it. The raised suspension and large gap between its 17-inch alloys and the wheel arches also suggest a more rugged vehicle than some of its rivals.
And perhaps in 4×4 guise with a gutsy big diesel engine it is a capable soft-roader but our test car with its front-wheel-drive and 1.2-litre petrol smacks of being one of those all-mouth-and-no-trousers crossovers. A similarly priced Suzuki S-Cross might not look so tough but with a proper 4×4 system it’s better equipped to deal with the rough stuff.
That’s not to say the Yeti isn’t capable on the road – initial impressions of the 108bhp petrol are that it’s stronger and more flexible than the raw numbers suggest, with enough get up and go to easily cope with most demands.
Picky folk like me might want a tougher drivetrain to back up its looks but the fact is that this is the sort of specification many Yeti buyers will opt for. They don’t care if it can pull itself out of a muddy field or not, they simply want a spacious, economical family car with easy access, a raised driving position and lots of creature comforts.
The next few months will tell us just how well it fulfils that brief.