The Skoda Karoq has been given the tough task of replacing the hugely popular and distinctive Yeti. So, how do these two family SUVs compare?
The Yeti was an immediate hit for Skoda, and sales grew every year of its life, so the Czech brand could have been forgiven for playing safe with its replacement. But not a bit of it.
Instead, it had a major rethink, even ditching the Yeti name. The newcomer is instead called the Karoq, but what else has changed and is the resulting car an improvement? To find out, we’re comparing the Karoq and Yeti side-by-side.
The Yeti was always one of the most distinctive small SUVs around, even after its 2013 facelift, which saw the big round front fog lights ditched in favour of more conventional rectangular units. In particular, the Yeti’s boxy, almost van-like silhouette is instantly recognisable.
The Karoq, by contrast, has a design that borrows heavily from Skoda’s other SUV, the larger, seven-seat Kodiaq. So the Karoq is more conventionally good looking than the Yeti, but also a lot less memorable.
engines and driving
Karoq buyers can choose from four engines, with a 113bhp 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol unit the cheapest option. This replaces the old 109bhp 1.2-litre, while further up the range, the Yeti’s 148bhp 1.4-litre petrol engine has been axed in favour of a 1.5-litre that produces the same power but averages up to 52.3mpg in official tests – a 7.5mpg improvement.
The diesel alternatives are a 113bhp 1.6 and a 148bhp 2.0, both of which are more efficient again, but for us it’s the petrol 1.5 that strikes the best balance between performance, affordability, running costs and smoothness.
Skoda has given the Karoq a softer, more comfort-orientated suspension set-up than that found on the Yeti. However, it still handles well, offering accurate steering and plenty of grip.
As before, six-speed manual and seven-speed automatic gearboxes are available, and 2.0-litre diesel Karoqs come with four-wheel drive, giving added traction on and off-road.
interior and equipment
Like the exterior, the interior of the Karoq takes its inspiration from the bigger Kodiaq, with the dashboard design showcasing the minimalist, logical style that we’ve come to expect from Skoda.
Where the Karoq differs is in the fact it’s available with a Configurable Instrument Panel that replaces the traditional instruments with a digital display. This lets you choose from four specific layouts, ranging from Classic, which shows your revs, speed and location, to Reduced, which only displays key information such as speed and remaining fuel range.
This all contributes to a noticeable step up in perceived quality, even though the Yeti was far from poor in this area.
As with the Yeti, all Karoqs come with an infotainment touchscreen, but this is 8.0in or 9.2in depending on the specification you choose, where previously it was 5.0in or 6.5in. The new systems are as easy to navigate as they are quick to respond, although the new gesture control technology (which activates features in response to hand movements) is quite clunky.
Instead, the biggest advancement over the Yeti is the fact that you now get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring.
space and practicality
Yeti owners will be pleased to learn that Skoda’s Varioflex rear seats have been carried over. These can recline, slide back and forth or be removed completely, giving the car class-leading practicality.
With the rear seats in place, boot space is on a par with the Volkswagen Tiguan. And with them removed, the Karoq in effect becomes a van; you could get a washing machine in the back.
The Yeti’s boxy shape and large windows gave it an airy feel, but while the Karoq is darker inside, it has more than enough leg and head room to keep 6ft-tall passengers happy.
*** Note : £1 = $1.38 (correct at time of post)
The Karoq range starts at £20,875, up from the £17,770 that Skoda charged for its entry-level Yeti. As a result, the Karoq has a higher entry price than its biggest rivals, the Nissan Qashqai (which costs from £19,285) and Seat Ateca (£18,670), although spec-for-spec all three cars are very closely matched.
PCP finance deals and running costs are also competitive, and the Karoq should be cheaper to run than an equivalent Yeti thanks to its superior fuel economy and lower emissions.