I have owned a 2014 Skoda Yeti outdoor for several weeks now, coming from a 2008 VW GT TDI manual which has served me well. Like most people who would visit a site like this I read every online review I could find. The common complaints of the TDI version were looks, ride quality, wind noise and even sun visors of all things. I wanted a small "Golf like" SUV with some off road ability, VW technology and sub $40k. The Tiguan was the obvious choice, but just didn't do it for me, but I do like to have a somewhat different car each upgrade. The Tig was too "familiar" to me.
I found the right Yeti in Adelaide ( white, outdoor and tech pack ), flew down and drove it home to Brisbane. I had three days of long driving across the country, and the Yeti impressed me no end. The very first day when stopping overnight in Hay NSW, a local lady came over and wanted a look at my "flash" car, loved the look of it. This has become a common theme, and I've gotten used to strangers wanting to say hello and ask about the car, and have a closer look. I reckon I'd get less attention in a Porsche.
The car is obviously heavier and higher than the Golf, and getting back into my GT TDI makes it feel like a Lotus, but it does have a strong ECU tune and some suspension mods. Still the Yeti DSG impresses with its ability to keep the 103 engine on the power and it feels very linear, certainly better than I expected. I did rate the car down a bit for the power, for if ever a model needed the 125kw engine, this is it, but the 103 is certainly not lethargic. Back to my initial observations.
My VW had developed several rattles in the first 500kms that remained with me since despite several attempts to fix, the Yeti is yet to develop just one. The build quality is excellent, certainly well above VW MKV era, but similar to the MK6's, which from a drivers perspective is a great thing. It's certainly no Audi, but then it sure costs a lot less.
I still have both cars, and despite the greater fun factor of the GT TDI, I still prefer to take the Yeti out, it's just so comfortable and effortless to drive, stands out, and I couldn't be happier with the purchase. Perhaps it's the DSG too, I've come from manual petrol cars historically, but in a diesel, especially in crawling traffic, this can be a busy, leg pumping place. My Golf is manual for comparisons sake.
To address the typical review complaints, well looks are subjective, and whilst I accept this is a very polarising car, and certainly not everyone's cup of tea, it has certainly grown on me. I see the beautiful looking Mazda 6 getting around, and other better looking SUV's, but so too they are common as, and I'm loving being unique. Even when signing at the dealer, and having to walk through the flashy VW showroom, I smiled to myself that I was purchasing something "different". That it most certainly is.
Next is ride quality, and this will be a problem for people after a lounge-supple ride. The 103 outdoor is quite firm, period. The Yeti handles corners amazingly well, and feels very planted and sporty on the road. The car can get quite harsh over well used B grade roads, and I experienced this while driving back up the Newell Highway. At 45 years old, I like a level of comfort, but bought this car for the fact it had some off road ability, and expected a tougher ride. I recall on day 2 driving home, when covering about 900kms on truck hammered highway, I did get to a point where I thought " OK I've had enough". I checked my trip time and it said 7 hours. I thought to myself " fair enough".
The ride is firmer, but if you come from sportier cars, quite normal. I don't find it a problem in daily use, and on typical city roads and highways just fine. Off road it is an asset, and needs to be harder to counter the lower ground clearance. And that clearance is bloody low, I got proper bogged first time out, but I did tackle some challenging terrain after serious rain. My two sons loved it though, which was the whole point.
Wind noise, yes the side mirrors do make a bit of noise at 110k's, but noisy compared to what? If you are after a Honda Accord isolated ride, then yep, it's noisy. Compared to my old PD170 TDI, it is amazingly quiet, there is zero diesel noise inside with the windows up, and some sort of what I figure is artificial engine nose, certainly doesn't sound like a diesel unless you put the windows down and listen the idle. Sounds great inside actually, and the wind noise is a lot less than roof racks etc make.
Sun Visors, well if you are short, then perhaps, but as the seat has a lever to both jack and tilt the lower seat portion, I'm sure you can counter that. The seats are below Golf level, but amazingly comfortable, and I've found a great setup at 180cm tall.
I marked it down a little on technology, for you can't totally turn off the hill hold function that delays you on slight inclines, but I have managed to almost negate it with Vag Com, but adjusting it to operate "quicker". Nearly gone is where it should be, but silly you can't defeat if you wish too. Is an excellent feature for those not so adept at hill starts though!
So in all I love this car, it is certainly unique, fun to drive, has an astounding array of features, and does me proud off road. Future plans are getting onto the tamer beaches, exploring the local fire trails, and getting it properly dirty. Oh and a 125kw turbo of course!