Yeti has made it to civilisation

Yeti has made it to civilisation
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The new Skoda Yeti seems to have the looks, the performance, and certainly the equipment to make a bigger impact in the small SUV market.

It seems the mystical Yeti has only been seen by men who look like one and have been sipping the Tibetan version of homemade liquor.

But the Skoda Yeti of the Czech Republic actually does exist and was indeed a surprise package, especially the 1.2-litre version.

I thought on the numbers alone, the 1.2-litre would be slow, noisy and require bucketloads of revs to keep up with traffic.

Instead, each model was exceptionally quiet and pulled strongly through each gear on the twisting, undulating roads around Byron Bay.

There are four Yeti models available. The entry-level Active has the 1.2-litre turbocharged four-cylinder driving the front wheels, with 77kW and 175Nm of torque. It's the only version you can get with the six-speed manual. Fuel consumption for this model is a miserly 6.0L/100km. A seven-speed DSG automatic is an option.

Next up is the Advantage, which adds a 1.4-litre four, and drops the manual gearbox. The Outdoor version has a 2.0-litre diesel, all-wheel drive and a six-speed DSG gearbox. It also carries a pretty hefty 215kg weight penalty over the base model, which is why it wasn't as lively as its petrol cousins. It is also the reason the top model uses more fuel in diesel form (6.7L/100km) than its 1.2-litre petrol relative.

All Yetis are packed with equipment to make family driving more comfortable and help make time fly. Some of the key features now standard in the latest version include a five-inch Amundsen touch screen audio unit, rear parking sensors, keyless entry including smart start and a rear-view camera.

Safety hasn't been short- changed either. Yeti was awarded five stars in the Euro NCAP crash test in 2009 and the updated model provides the same degree of safety as its predecessor.

Active systems, such as ESC including ABS, and braking assistant, combine with the passive safety of seven airbags, five three-point safety belts, and five head restraints.

The new appearance looks as if Yeti has made it to civilisation and spent some time in the gym. The wheel arches bulge more, the track looks wider and the front end in particular has been restyled to give a more aggressive look. Inside, the rear seats are fully collapsible and can easily be removed if it's a two-person trip you're planning on. There is plenty of room for front passengers, and the seats, although cloth-trim only, are supportive and easily adjustable.

A tech pack is available at a fairly hefty $2900 for the 1.4-litre and diesel, while an off-road pack at $500 is also available for the diesel.

Skoda sold about 100 Yetis a month in Australia last year; this year the number has slipped to about 75 a month. The new model seems to have the looks, the performance, and certainly the equipment to make a bigger impact in the small SUV market, which grew 21 per cent in 2013 and has continued to expand in 2014.

But pricewise, it will need good dealers and sharp marketing to outsell the 1.8-litre Holden Trax, funky 1.6-litre Nissan Juke, and Suzuki's 1.6-litre S-Cross, which are all cheaper.

SKODA YETI
Models: 77TSI Active; 90TSI Advantage; 103TDI Outdoor
Prices: $23,490 (man, add $2300 for DSG); $28,290; $33,590
Engines: 1.2-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol; 1.4-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol; 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel
Outputs: 77kW/175Nm (1.2); 90kW/200Nm (1.4); 104kW/350Nm (diesel)
Transmission: Six-speed manual; seven-speed DSG; six-speed DSG
Thirst: 6.0L/100km; 6.8L/100km; 6.7L/100km
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