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Going in search of the Yeti

We are going off-road for this Group Icon, to examine how the ŠKODA Yeti SUV crossover became a monster success.

Despite only being first spotted in 2009, it achieved cult status in a short space of time.

When ŠKODA unveiled the Yeti as a concept car at the 2005 Geneva Motor Show, it created a big impression in the compact SUV category. That first impression continued into its production run, with the Yeti’s feel of a go-anywhere off-roader combined with the packaging of a small family estate, making it an instant rival to the Nissan Qashqai – the SUV market leader at the time.

The Yeti was launched in both petrol and diesel versions, all of which were four cylinder and four-stroke turbocharged, with the petrol engines fuel injected and the diesel versions equipped with Turbocharged Direct Injection (TDI) system.

Most engines were offered with six-speed manual transmissions and the four-wheel drive variants also utilised the fourth generation Haldex Traction multi-plate clutch to transmit the drive to the rear wheels. It also included the fully independent multi-link rear suspension first seen on the Golf Mk5, to complement the fully independent front suspension.

One of the Yeti’s most interesting features is the off-road button, which allows all assistance systems to be switched to a special off-road setting. In this mode, the sensitivity of the accelerator pedal is reduced and the Hill Descent Control is deployed, a system that uses controlled braking to maintain a constant speed when descending steep slopes.

It makes the Yeti both versatile and fun to drive, whether it’s taking on traditional tarmac roads or powering its way through more challenging conditions.

Inside the car there is an array of creature comforts, most notably the VarioFlex seating system which provides the Yeti with over 20 different seating combinations. It also features Automatic Park Assist, front heated seats and a large tilt and slide two-piece panoramic sunroof – a monster-sized package of features that help put the Yeti amongst the best of the big beasts in the SUV crossover market.

With the original Yeti selling well, the new upgraded Yeti and Yeti Outdoor models were unleashed onto the market, with a first sighting at the 2013 Frankfurt International Motor Show.

While the sleeker Yeti is more suited to urban driving, its country cousin the Yeti Outdoor, with its 138bhp 2-litre turbo-diesel engine and rugged styling, is better built for off-road adventures. Both models were also the first ŠKODA cars to offer a rear-view parking camera.

The upgraded Yeti continued to perform well in the SUV crossover market, with the 13,600 registrations achieved in 2016 providing its best ever year for sales. However, a year later the legend of this particular Yeti was no more, as its production run ended and it was replaced by the larger Karoq model.

The ŠKODA Yeti achieved a lot in a short space of time. Despite a relatively short production run, it achieved a cult following, even spawning its own enthusiasts’ community, the Yeti Owners Club, www.yetiownersclub.co.uk

While the end of the production run means reduced sightings of the ŠKODA Yeti on UK roads, those that remain and the enthusiasts that drive and adore them, will help to ensure the legend lives on.