Old vs new: Is the new Skoda Karoq as lovable as the Yeti?
We must deliver some distressing news: the Skoda Yeti is no more. After the best part of a decade accruing legions of loyal fans, the not-at-all-abominable little Yeti has been ditched in favour of something more in tune with today’s crossover crazy consumers – the Karoq.
We last reviewed the Yeti way back in 2014, but since then demand for crossovers has increased drastically – something perhaps reflected by the more anonymous appearance of its successor.
But while it might like the Yeti’s likable personality, on paper it certainly adds more to the mix than it takes away. To see exactly what’s new, we’ve compared them side-by-side to see if the Karoq really is capable of filling those Yeti-size boots…
The Citroen C4 Cactus and Nissan Juke have long since snatched the Marmite styling award from the Yeti, but when it arrived back in 2009, it was quite a stand-out design.
A boxy, glass-filled rear end was a departure from the norm, and at the time there was little else like it on the market. Not a looker in the conventional sense maybe, but the Yeti continued to be a hit right up until production ended last year. So how does its successor compare?
Well the Karoq’s looks are borrowed from the larger seven-seat Kodiaq. If anything, it’s better looking than the larger car; the absence of a rear overhang allows for a more proportioned look. It fits the crossover brief perfectly and blends in with its rivals, which include VW Group stablemates the Seat Ateca and VW Tiguan.
Those sad to see the demise of the Yeti’s characterful looks will cheer up as soon as they climb inside its replacement. Although the Yeti boasted impressive build quality, the Karoq offers a serious step up in this domain. Hardly any of the controls and trim has been carried over.
Gone are the chunky heater controls and inconveniently placed infotainment screen, which has been replaced by VW Group’s latest system. It’s available in 6.5in, 8in and 9.2in form, and all of them get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
It’s easy to forget just how much tech has moved on in only a short period of time, and not just in the infotainment stakes – the Karoq is available with a Configurable Instrument Panel which replaces the standard dials with a vivid digital driver display.
Even for the ‘simply clever’ designers at Skoda, bettering the Yeti’s usefulness must have taken some doing, but they’ve pulled it off. With 416 litres of capacity, boot space in that boxy rear wasn’t exactly short demand, but luggage room in the Karoq is up to an impressive 521 litres.
The Yeti was praised for its Varioflex adapatable rear seats, and this feature is carried over – SE-L and Edition trims feature sliding seats, which are also completely removable. Removing them all expands total load capacity to 1,810 litres. In other words, you can turn a Karoq into a small van.
Skoda has the small stuff covered too thanks to that ‘simply clever’ design philosophy. Admittedly the following features are available across the company’s entire range, but include an inbuilt umbrella, an ice scraper (not-so-simply-clever me spent two days de-icing with an AA card before discovering this behind the fuel filler cover), an in-built umbrella and, holy of holies, a bin! When we say bin what we actually mean is a piece of plastic attached to a bag that clips into a door pocket, but it’s a useful and practical feature nonetheless.
Engines and driving
The original Yeti featured some great engines – the 1.8-litre 158bhp petrol springs to mind. But we’re now firmly in the era of smaller, turbocharged petrol engines, and the Karoq’s line-up reflects this. Things kick off with a 113bhp 1.0-litre option, which in our opinion is a bit too small for a car this size.
For most people, the 1.5-litre 148bhp turbo petrol will be the way to go, so it’s a good job it’s the quickest and most refined engine in the range. 0 to 62mph takes 8.4 seconds, while clever cylinder deactivation tech and a stop/start system ensure fuel economy remains the right side of 40mpg.
Two diesels are offered – a 1.6-litre and 2.0-litre – both of which are essentially cleaner, slightly more frugal versions of the ones used in the Yeti. The former is a little slow off the mark, but is best for those looking for outright economy. The larger diesel produces 148bhp and is the only option if you want a 4X4 system.
The Karoq has the Yeti well and truly trumped out on the road thanks to the composed and bump-free ride quality. In fact scrap that – it’s better than most of its rivals too. There’s some body roll as there is with most cars this size, but Skoda deserves credit for developing the Karoq’s suspension into something that can more than handle the UK’s pot-holed roads.
It grips well too, but overly light steering and a precise-but-ordinary gear change means this will never be a fun car to drive. But it isn’t meant to be. Does it have the same character behind the wheel as the Yeti? Perhaps not. Is it more comfortable than the Yeti day to day? Definitely.
With equipment, quality, performance and practicality in the bag, can the new pretender show the Yeti the door when it comes to price too? Well, yes it can. Unless you have your heart set on a last-of-the-line Yeti Outdoor, your only choice will be to buy one second hand.
Granted, there’ll be some great deals around at the minute thanks to the Karoq’s arrival, but a peruse of the Yetis available from a well-known car supermarket gave us an opportunity to extol one of the many and varied reasons to lease – value.
On a personal contract plan from said car supermarket, a range-topping 2017-plate Yeti Outdoor will cost you £217 per month over 49 months with a £1,200 deposit – that’s without even thinking about a £4,436 optional balloon payment at the end.
The Karoq however, is now available to lease from less than £200 per month if you’re prepared to go for an entry-level 1.0-litre SE, while a fully kitted out 2.0-litre TDI 4X4 SE-L will set you back no more than £300 per month.
Considering the amount of samey looking crossovers that now swamp the UK’s roads (Karoq included) it is somewhat sad to see the end of Skoda’s boxy idiosyncratic design. That said, what the Karoq lacks in individualistic style, it makes up for in every other area.
And you can’t blame Skoda for ditching the Yeti namesake and design when you consider just how lucrative this market segment is. While rather ordinary, the Karoq is also rather excellent and, of all the mid-size SUVs currently on offer at this price point, it could just be the best there is.