TESTDRIVE The best thing about the refreshing and well-equipped Skoda Yeti is the way it combines everyday and everywhere driving with ease

Skoda has done it again. It has created a whole new segment in the market with its Yeti. As a crossover, it has the SUV-like robustness and ability, while the exterior makes it the size of an overgrown hatch. As expected, it comes with a premium image and solidly built parts inside and out.

The Yeti gets its squarish profile thanks to a roofline that doesn't slope backwards. That, along with the upright A-pillars and D-pillars, ensures that the Yeti doesn't take on an MPV look. Sure, the Yeti might seem like a derivative of the Fabia, but under the skin it is actually related to the much bigger Laura. Both are based on the PQ35 platform of the VW family. However with a 4.22-metre length, the Yeti isn't much bigger than a hatch and that will prove to be a boon in the city. The Yeti shares the Laura's 2-litre common-rail diesel and unsurprisingly the 2578mm wheelbase is also the same. The Yeti also gets a versatile all-independent suspension setup.

The Laura DNA is more apparent when you get inside the Yeti. The centre console, the instruments, the door pads and the gear lever are bits we have seen in the Laura. If there's a difference, that's in the quality of the plastics and the finish. The Yeti's interiors feel a couple of notches up. The damping on the stowage bin on top of the dash and the sunglass holder is brilliant.

The dash also comes with a smart faux wood insert running the entire width of the dash and swooping down to wrap around the centre console. The Ambiente version of the Yeti makes do with a soft metal finish instead. The huge range in the seat-height adjust along with the tilt and reach adjustable steering allows you to find the right seating position.

The front seats are superbly comfortable with lots of travel and the rear row will also keep passengers happy, thanks to an adjustable back rest and decent legroom. Headroom is superb and better than many bigger SUVs. But the passengers at the rear suffer the most as the high belt line and the big front seats give a stifling feeling and it's not the most relaxing place to be in. Even though the Yeti has more knee room, cabin space is at a premium.

The Yeti's luggage space isn't exceptional at 415 litres and at best you can squeeze in a couple of big bags. Though the wheel arches are tucked away nicely to give a square floor, the spare wheel under the floor hogs up a lot of space, and that's despite it being a space saver. To liberate a bit more boot space, you could easily slide the rear bench forward. If that's not enough, the seats can be folded down and, if even that isn't enough for you, then the second row of seats can be removed entirely to liberate a much more significant 1665-litre boot.

List of features

In terms of equipment, the Ambiente version will make do without lots of kit that is on offer on the Elegance version. The list includes special off-road settings, automatic dimming driver side mirror, Parktronic sensors at front, hill descent control, hill-hold assist, side and curtain airbags, cornering headlights, audio controls on the steering wheel and the touch screen music system. So the Elegance variant is quite loaded.

The Yeti's 2.0-litre CRDI 140bhp motor is impressive. It offers great flexibility, allowing the Yeti to do duty in the cut and thrust of the city traffic and effortlessly switch over to mile-munching mode out on the highway.

However, the highway is not the only place where the Yeti excels. Take it off the beaten path to give yourself, and the car, a treat.

The Yeti uses MacPherson-strut suspension with triangulated links in front, while the rear uses a multi-link setup. The suspension is pretty stiff at low speeds and sharp edges can be felt. However, as speed builds up, the ride becomes supple and comfortable. The Yeti displays a flat and consistent ride to take bumps and dips comfortably in its stride. In fact its composure over bumps is quite remarkable with the suspension providing excellent control on the rebound.

The Yeti turns into corners with an agility that begs you to drive faster. Push too hard and understeer will set in again but it's very predictable and safe. The 215/60 R16 tyres start to protest, but there is enough and more grip on offer and everything is nicely reined in with a rather heavy handed ESP system.

In our fuel efficiency tests the Yeti returned a healthy 11.3kpl in the choked city streets. Good gear ratios and power delivery combined allowed the Yeti to use higher gears for better fuel efficiency. Out on the highway, cruising at over 100kph, the Yeti returned 16.3kpl. The Yeti's 4x4 system wasn't called to duty in either of these runs and hence sapped little efficiency.

However, keeping in mind the extra weight of the 4x4 system, the fuel efficiency is satisfactory. Factor in the 60-litre fuel tank and you get a massive range of 830km before needing to stop for fuel.

With its unconventional looks, the Yeti is very refreshing. However, the traditional idea of an SUV is questioned here as the Yeti is too small and leaves the buyer wanting for more passenger and boot space. The flip side though is that its compact dimensions will serve as a huge advantage for city driving. On weekend trips, the sophisticated 4x4 system and gritty proportions will help it go where bulkier SUVs struggle to go.

The Yeti is fantastic to drive and it is well-equipped too.

With the Rs. 16.62 lakh price tag for the top-end model, Elegance, with all the sophisticated hardware, the Yeti is good value too.

The icing on the cake though, is the way it combines everyday and everywhere driving with ease.

Keywords: Luxury carsSkodaYetiSUV