The Numbers

1.4L 4cyl turbo, 90kW, 200Nm, FWD, 6.8L/100km. 0-100km/h in 10.6secs, 182km/h max, 1445kg

The Topgear Verdict

A do-everything hero, and now cheaper than ever before. With the new 90TSI engine, the range is complete.

2014 Skoda Yeti

What is it?

The humble, affordable and laughably named Skoda Yeti holds a special place in the TopGear pantheon, just behind the undestroyable Toyota HiLux.

Who can forget Clarkson proving, irrefutably, that the Yeti is all the car anyone needs by showing that it was faster than a Ferrari, tougher than the fire brigade, so smooth riding you could have a tattoo done in the back seat while it was traversing a field, and capable of fitting Sienna Miller in the glovebox?

Incredibly, this ringing endorsement hasn't led to the Yeti becoming the biggest selling car… in the world, yet, but Skoda has now gone and improved upon its perfection.

What’s new about it?

It's not entirely a new car, of course, so much as a Yeti that's been given a facelift - a task that sounds as challenging as putting lipstick on a Joe Hockey. The range-topping, 4x4 Outdoor model gets more brutish, manly styling to differentiate it from the base-model, front-wheel-drive versions that most people actually buy.

There are a few little crimps and creases around the chin and the headlights, and a new Skoda badge, and the overall effect is a car that looks more serious and thin, less rounded and cheerful.

A reversing camera is now standard across the range, plus there's a new touch-screen stereo (which looks a lot like the one you'd find in a Mk VI Golf; the platform this car is still built off) and you now get a nice, leather-wrapped steering wheel with buttons on it.

The big news, though, is that there are now three models in the Yeti family, with a new 1.4-litre 90TSI version plonking down in the middle to beef up the mid-range.

So what’s it like to drive?

This fabulous engine, already familiar from its work in mother company Volkswagen's Golf, brings much needed torque to the Yeti package, with 200Nm complementing its 90kW. It's a rev-happy and impressive powerplant, but it does feel like it's working harder in this tall-sided and heavier  (1445kg) mini-SUV than it is in a hatch, yet Skoda claims it will still return an impressive 6.8 litres per 100km. It’s still not fast, of course, taking a tardy 10.6 seconds to get to 100km/h.

This new model, known as the Active Yeti (surprisingly there's no Hibernating spec), is just $28,290, which isn't bad at all for all the car you'll ever need.

If you want to actually take your Yeti off road, and up mountains, you'll need to step up to the 2.0-litre, diesel-powered (103kW, 350Nm) Outdoor model, which gets the all-new fifth-generation Haldex all-wheel-drive system, also found on the very sexy new Golf R. The most impressive news about this car, which, as we know, is actually more capable in the rough stuff than a Range Rover, is the price of $33,590 - that's $4400 less than the already fantastic model it replaces. And it’s a handy 0.4 of a second faster to the limit than the 90TSI petrol.

The base model Active, with its carry-over 1.2-litre 77TSI engine, feels a bit light on after you've driven the other two, but it's still a capable around-towner, and it's had a tempting price chop as well, coming in at $23,490 for a manual ($25,790 with DSG), a handy $2800 cheaper than the original model.

Overall, the things that were great about the Yeti remain so - it's surprisingly good handling, neat steering, high driving position, excellent vision and Sienna Miller in the glovebox. Throw in the extra value and there might just be a few more buyers getting aboard the Clarkson train of thought.


Driven: May 23, 2014