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Car reviews - Skoda - Yeti - 103TDI 5-dr wagon

The Car

10 Feb 2012

CZECH car-maker Skoda officially launched its funky Yeti in Australia this week, poised to do battle with not only the Japanese and South Korean compact SUV establishment, but an unexpected rival in the shape of the related Tiguan from parent brand Volkswagen.

Earlier this month VW undercut the starting price Skoda announced for its Yeti at July’s Australian International Motor Show in Melbourne by adding a $28,490 entry-level front-drive variant to its facelifted Tiguan range – powered by a more powerful (118kW) petrol engine than the Skoda’s 77kW unit.

Coincidence or not, Skoda has since reduced the front-drive Yeti variant's entry price to $26,290 plus on-road costs - even before it hits showrooms - putting a $2200 gap between it and the mechanically similar Tiguan.

At the same time, the Yeti now focusses a crosshair on similarly value-priced, front-drive Asian SUV competitors including the Mitsubishi ASX (from $25,990), Hyundai ix35 (from $26,990), Kia Sportage (from $26,720) and SsangYong Korando (from $27,990 drive-away).

In SUV-obsessed Australia, the quirky yet versatile Yeti is a sure-fire way for Skoda to increase sales volume – and presence – Down Under ahead of the introduction of more new models including a Focus-fighting small car expected to revive the Rapid nameplate and possibly the Volkswagen Up-based CitiGo sub-light hatch.

All Yetis come with seven airbags and an alphabet soup of safety acronyms – and a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating – plus alloy wheels, air-conditioning, cruise control, height-adjustable driver’s seat, electric front and rear windows, electric mirror adjustment and a cooled glove compartment.

Skoda_Yeti_stack2.jpgA multi-function leather steering wheel, gearlever and handbrake cover add a touch of class, while the eight-speaker MP3-compatible sound-system with Bluetooth and auxiliary input, multi-mode trip computer and plenty of 12-volt power sockets should keep tech-heads happy.

Customers can specify a panoramic sunroof ($1490), parking sensors ($640 rear or $990 front and rear), rear privacy glass ($250), bi-Xenon headlights ($1490) and automatic parking ($1390 including front and rear parking sensors).

The Yeti is available in 13 colours (metallic costs $490 extra) and like the new-to-Australia Fabia light car, it can also be had with a number of combinations of contrasting paint finishes for the roof ($390).

Versatility is a selling point for the Yeti, which features Skoda’s Varioflex seating system that enables the rear seating to be easily folded flat, tilted forwards, removed completely or re-configured from a three-seat bench to spacious separate chairs.

The top-spec Yeti in the two-variant launch line-up has VW Group’s fourth-generation Haldex clutch-actuated part-time all-wheel drive system and a 103kW turbo-diesel engine under the bonnet.

It costs $35,690 with a six-speed manual or $37,990 with a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission (the base petrol is available with a seven-speed self-shifter for $28,590).

A (arguably more aspirational) Tiguan fitted with a similar drivetrain costs $300 more than the Czech-branded vehicle, but the flagship Yeti comes with extras missing from the VW like dual-zone climate-control air-conditioning, 17-inch alloy wheels (versus 16-inch) and front foglights.

Including the aforementioned Tiguan-beating extras, over and above the petrol base model, the more off-road oriented diesel Yeti gains under-body protection, warning lights in the front doors, chrome brightwork in the gearlever/handbrake area, automatic headlights and wipers, plus silver (as opposed to black) roof-rails.

Options exclusive to the diesel are a cornering function for the front foglights ($240), satellite-navigation ($2890) and leather upholstery ($2830).

While the diesel Yeti and Tiguan share a 2.0-litre 103kW/320Nm engine, the Volkswagen gets BlueMotion technologies like idle-stop.

As a result, the Yeti consumes slightly more fuel than its larger VW cousin, returning 6.2 litres per 100 kilometres in manual form and 6.7L/100km with the optional automatic transmission (Tiguan: 6.0L/100km and 6.2L/100km).

The diesel Yeti’s fuel consumption figures translate into CO2 outputs of 162 grams per kilometre for the manual or 174g/km for the automatic. Skoda also supplies a marginally smaller 60-litre fuel tank against the Tiguan’s 64-litre capacity.

However, the Yeti fights back with a sprightlier 0-100km/h acceleration figure of 9.9 seconds for the manual and 10.2 for the automatic, compared with an equal 10.2 second time with either transmission choice in the Tiguan – which gains an extra ratio in automatic guise compared with the Yeti.

The less powerful 77kW/175kW 1.2-litre turbo-petrol engine manages 0-100km/h in 11.8 seconds (12.0 in automatic guise) while fuel consumption is slightly up on the diesel at 6.6L/100km for the manual or 7.0L/100km for the automatic, equating to respective CO2 emissions of 154g/km and 165g/km.

Braked towing capacity for the petrol 1200kg – 800kg less than with the gruntier, all-paw diesel’s commendable two-tonne hauling ability.

The Yeti will no doubt ice the cake of what has so far been a very good year for Skoda, which has enjoyed a 54.7 per cent sales increase to the end of September, led by its mid-sized Octavia fastback and wagon range.

With jacked-up, all-wheel drive Scout sales included, the Octavia line-up has accounted for 1162 of Skoda’s 1839 sales for the first three quarters.

Helped by the addition of a dual-clutch automatic transmission in April, Scout sales have rocketed 186.4 per cent, while the Superb luxury sedan is also up 145.1 per cent.

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