Yeti finds itself in Switzerland

Jay Nagley

Skoda's slogan is "Simply Clever" – and the Yeti delivers.

The Skoda Yeti is one of the new breed of crossover vehicles – part family car, part 4x4. The Skoda looks more functional than, say a Nissan Qashqai, but the formula is similar. In fact it looks more like a giant Fiat Panda 4x4, which is no bad thing – it's chunky, square styling makes a pleasant change from the general trend to make off-roaders look ever more sporty and dynamic. The advantage of the Yeti's "hip to be square" styling is that it has more luggage capacity than a Ford Kuga, a car which looks like it is a size bigger.

We were interested in how well such an apparently road-biased car would cope in arduous conditions, so we took it on a journey from Milan in Italy to Zurich in Switzerland. That may not sound too arduous, but temperatures were -11 degrees and we had a stop-off to try some slaloming around an ice circuit. On the roads up through the Alps, the Yeti 4x4 2.0 TDI was very impressive. Both the 140 bhp and the 170 bhp engines were surprisingly linear – whereas some high-power diesels have a sharply defined powerband with almost nothing below 1600 rpm, the new VW Common Rail engine pulled evenly from any engine speed. In fact, they responded more like a petrol engine – but with vastly more torque. Even on steep inclines above 2000 metres, they never struggled. On those same roads, with patches of snow on the corners, the electronically controlled Haldex clutch redistributed the power the instant traction was affected. The driver could tell that the electronic brain was doing its stuff, but a passenger would be none the wiser – there was no wheelspin and no sudden reductions in power.