The opportunity was too good to miss at SMMT’s recent Test Day to try the little Skoda soft-roader on Millbrooks’ off-road course, particularly in view of the torrential rain of the day making ground conditions treacherous. It is easy to dismiss the Yeti and its numerous competitors as “soft-roaders” which would be totally overwhelmed if they ventured further off-road than the grass verge outside the school playground, so we were keen to find out whether this impression was really the case.
The test car, in the new Outdoor trim level, was fitted with the 2.0 litre 140ps diesel, mated, unusually, to an automatic transmission, VAGs’ DSG unit, and was not specifically modified for the event, even down to the tyres which we were advised were the standard fitment items.
Millbrooks’ off-road course has a fearsome reputation, being more used to more military style all-wheel-drive vehicles, however initial impressions were that the off-road course was comprised mainly of fairly modest potholes and puddles, with solid ground underfoot. However, this misconception was soon dispelled when suddenly confronted with a steep, almost 45 degree, drop of some 20 metres down an embankment. However by selecting hill-hold, the Yeti crawled surefootedly down the slope to safety.
The final obstacle faced was a similar slope, this time upwards and with an extremely sticky mud surface which bore evidence of unsuccessful climb attempts previously by other vehicles. However, foot to the floor we attacked the hill, getting almost all the way up before the mud overcame the tyres. However, rapidly winding the steering from lock to lock whilst keeping the throttle hard down gave just enough traction to let us crawl successfully to the top of the hill.
Interestingly, far from the DSG transmission being a hindrance, it made off-roading much simpler, allowing the driver to concentrate on the terrain, leaving the car to ensure the right gear was selected.
All in all, an exhilarating experience and a tribute to the amazingly surefooted little Yeti, scorned by many but a soft roader able to go where even some “real 4×4’s” cannot manage.