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Skoda's Yeti monsters bad weather; full chat.


THE Association of British Drivers, an august body which should be given its own spot in the Trooping of the Colours, marching in highly polished ceremonial goggles and tan string backed driving gloves, has drawn attention to the importance of four-wheel-drive in bad weather.

They also point out that many more people would be driving 4x4s were it not for the threat of being taxed to within an inch of destitution and having social services remove their children on the grounds of climate crime.

More or less daily since before Christmas we have had roads full of people sliding around in cars little more capable in the conditions than a Magimix food blender.

MPs have even tabled a commons motion thanking Land Rover for simply being there in our darkest hour, neatly ignoring the fact that the only place a Landy is first choice for combat duty is the British Army. And only then because, like PT, they are compulsory.

Happily for the chaps at Skoda, Siberia UK coincided with the launch of the new Yeti, a sort of 4x4 hatchback, but a bit bigger than a hatchback though not big enough to get your kids tarred and feathered in the playground.

The Yeti comes with three turbo diesels of 108bhp, 138bhp and 170bhp, a 1.8 petrol and a 1.2-litre TSI petrol engine. In four wheel drive form they're equipped with the Haldex system which senses the level of grip required at which corner and a push button diff lock. Prices start at pounds 13,725 and rise to pounds 22,120 for the Elegance 2.0 TDI CR 170bhp.

It's pretty well equipped, too and an able road car - good all day on motorways thanks to sculpted seats and very low wind noise and with neat handling through coutry bends. The 108bhp diesel won't rip up any trees but it's all right for every day family transport while the 138bhp version will do 50mpg and 159g/km of carbons thus saving us all.

Inside the Yeti boasts the sort of quality Skoda now aspires to -part Roomster, part Superb. And I think you will find it as reliable as a man called Norman who had a cardigan and a caravan.

So what's it like off road? Ah, that's going to be a problem. I can't tell you. The two-litre diesel is also available in 2WD. And that's the one I had.

This, I am afraid, is a concept I struggle with. Four-by-four-free 4x4s. Like alcohol-free lager I see no point. I want my reality altered by hard liquor not acute wind. Yes you get the space and clever functionality of the Yeti concept, but without that one ingredient that keeps you from joining the abandoned hatchbacks on the hard shoulder.

Of course there is always the chance this will not bother you. That next winter may be the warmest since warmth began. This will fill the weather police with much joy and be used to justify a series of show trials and defenestrations. Do not, however, be put off. Four-wheel drive is safer in cross winds, rain, country lane mud and on broken surfaces. And unless I am very much mistaken those four apocalyptical horsemen are here to stay.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Feb 26, 2010
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