David Motton

See other tow car reviews written by David Motton

Read Practical Caravan's Škoda Yeti Outdoor review to find out if this crossover can live up to its go-anywhere looks – and what it's like as a tow car

Overview

The Yeti has long been one of our favourite crossovers. It’s now available as the standard car, and the more rugged-looking Outdoor model. This Škoda Yeti Outdoor 2.0 TDI 110PS has been on Practical Caravan's long-term fleet. We’ve enjoyed towing with Yetis in the past; how will this model fare – what tow car ability does it have?

The 2.0 TDI engine has modest power and torque figures. Is the engine strong enough for towing, and is the Yeti on the same page as its newer rivals?

Towing

Our Yeti Outdoor tips the scales at 1452kg (including 75kg for the driver, not included in Škoda’s published kerbweight); that gives an 85% match figure of 1234kg. This is comfortably within the legal towing limit of 1500kg.

We matched the Yeti to a Swift Expression 554 with a Mass in Running Order of 1197kg. Even towing a relatively light caravan, the model’s performance could be politely described as ‘steady’. With just 110PS (108bhp) and 184lb ft of torque, the Yeti took 19.1 seconds from 30-60mph.

In-gear acceleration was also pedestrian, taking 23.5 seconds to go from 50-60mph in fourth gear (of five). On hilly roads, that means lots of gearchanges and a heavy right foot are required to avoid holding up other traffic.

Once bullied up to speed, though, the Yeti tows very well. It resists crosswinds surprisingly well for such a short but high-sided car, and feels unflustered at 60mph on the motorway.

The Yeti was also unfazed in our lane-change test. Direct steering helped the driver to accurately place the car, and the Škoda never failed to pull the van straight again. The electronic stability control light illuminated on the fastest runs, but the system's interventions were subtle.

A second, firmer pull on the handbrake was needed to stop car and van rolling backwards on a 1-in-10 slope. Towing up the hill needed a careful balance of clutch and throttle, but we reached the top without any burning smell from the clutch.

In an emergency stop, the brakes showed impressive power. On a dry track the Yeti came to a halt from 30mph in 10.2 metres.

We prefer towing with the more powerful Yeti models, but there’s no disguising the Škoda’s excellent stability.

Everyday driving

We last tested the Yeti a couple of years ago, driving a Greenline model with lowered sports suspension. Our Yeti Outdoor sits on standard suspension, which improves ride comfort. That said, there’s still some bouncing when driving on bumpy roads.

It may not be quick, but the Yeti is more fun than you might expect. The steering is precise and the handling predictable and agile. Around town the car’s small size is a plus, and the excellent all-round visibility makes parking easy.

However, the Yeti is starting to lag behind newer rivals in one or two areas. The engine is quite vocal during acceleration, and there’s more wind and road noise than you’d hear in the cabin of a Nissan Qashqai or Renault Kadjar.

Space

The driver sits quite high in the Yeti, even with the seat on its lowest setting. Some of our testers found that the position took a little getting used to, but the seat did prove comfortable on long drives. And, thanks to the high roofline, even our tallest testers had headroom to spare.

Passenger space in the back isn’t quite so generous. There’s still lots of headroom, but kneeroom is at a premium if those in the front are tall. The cabin is also very narrow, so finding space for three passengers is a bit of a squeeze. There are air vents between the front seats, though, so the rear should stay cool.

The 416-litre boot is a reasonable size; it’s tall, but relatively short and narrow. If you need more space, the rear seats can be slid forward, or tumbled against the front seats (which gives a capacity of 1580 litres). The seats also come out completely, increasing capacity to 1780 litres. However, this requires storing them, and leaves an uneven floor.

Running costs

The Yeti Outdoor is very good value for money. Our SE Business car costs £19,850, and What Car? research suggests that significant discounts are there for the taking.

Resale values are also predicted to be very healthy. The official combined figure of 62.8mpg is well beaten by several rivals, but we’ve been impressed with the Yeti’s real-world economy: it returned 31.8mpg towing on a mix of A-roads and motorways.

Technical specs

Engine size1968 cc
Kerbweight1452 kg
85% KW1234 kg
Towball limit80 kg
Maximum towing limit1500 kg
Power108.0 bhp
Torque184.0 lb ft
Official MPG62.8 mpg
CO2118 g/km
30-60mph19.1 seconds
30-0mph10.2 m

Verdict

There are certainly better and more powerful tugs in the rest of the Yeti range, but if you have a light caravan and don’t mind working the car’s engine hard, the 108bhp Škoda Yeti Outdoor has a lot going for it. It’s fun to drive, reasonably practical and a very stable tow car.

Conclusion

Pros

  • Excellent stability when towing
  • It represents good value for money
  • It's a fun solo drive

Cons

  • Performance is steady
  • It can only tow light caravans
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