First Drive

2014 Skoda Yeti Monte Carlo review

The Skoda Yeti Monte Carlo has a stylish look and extra equipment to add to the Yeti's already proven talents, but at Β£24,390 can it justify the extra price over the standard car?

Words ByJohn Howell

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The Skoda Yeti Monte Carlo, priced from Β£24,390, is the latest model to reference the company’s rallying history, with 1936 being the year the firm first rallied in Monte Carlo.

In keeping with the other Monte Carlo special editions, which include versions of the Fabia and the Citigo, the Yeti gets the same signature gloss black roof and a choice of black, red, white, silver or grey bodywork. Black detailing is also added to the front grille, door mirrors, and 17-inch alloys.

Equipment levels are based on SE spec cars, so the Monte Carlo includes dual-zone climate control, roof rails, rear parking sensors and cruise control. In addition, they also feature xenon lights with cornering function, sports seats, a leather-covered multi-function sports steering wheel and unique seat fabrics.

The only engine available is Skoda's 2.0-litre TDI 170 diesel, which comes as standard with a six-speed manual gearbox and four-wheel drive. For an additional Β£1100 you can upgrade to a six-speed dual-clutch auto. Does all this kit make it worth the extra Β£2360 premium over the standard SE?

What’s the Skoda Yeti Monte Carlo like to drive?

With the gutsy 2.0-litre diesel engine hooked up to Skoda’s electronic four-wheel-drive system, the Monte Carlo is sure footed, even in greasy conditions, and it gets off the line smartly. In everyday driving there’s also plenty of mid-range pulling power, so whatever gear you find yourself in the Yeti will build speed nicely.

In terms of refinement, you'll struggle to forget that it's a diesel, but keep the revs below 3000rpm and it’s not that intrusive; stray much above this threshhold and it gets a bit boomy, but the controls are kept mercifully free from vibration. At higher speeds you do notice a little wind noise from around the windscreen and door mirrors, but tyre noise is generally well suppressed.

The steering is a little light around the dead centre, which is fine in town but a little disconcerting on the motorway. However it builds weight quickly as you apply more lock. Push into a corner and the Yeti has excellent body control for an SUV, turning in keenly and sticking faithfully to your chosen line.

Unfortunately, the Yeti tends to crash over potholes. The ride is at its worst at low speeds, but even at a cruise it still fidgets around more than is ideal. The good news at least is that big undulations such as speed bumps are dealt with much more effectively.

What’s the Skoda Yeti Monte Carlo like inside?

Being an SUV, the Yeti features a naturally upright driving position and a commanding view of the road. All-round visibility is excellent, thanks to tall windows, and with such a boxy shape and cut-off rear end it’s easy to get an idea of the car’s physical limits.

The sporty front seats are firm, but supportive, and include height adjustment for driver and passenger. Meanwhile, the steering wheel also has a full range of movement for height and reach, but the latter’s range is limited, which means long-legged drivers will have their arms at full stretch. The steering wheel also tends to obscure the top of the dials, especially with the thicker sports rim fitted.

With the exception of some tasteless carbonfibre-effect trim pieces, the dashboard is all standard Yeti, which means it’s functional as opposed to overtly stylish, but everything is placed within easy reach. Apart from the soft-feel upper dash, there’s liberal use of lower-grade plastics throughout the cabin. That said, it’s not much worse than rivals such as the Nissan Qashqai, and on a par with the Suzuki SX4 S-Cross.

The Yeti is a full five-seater with loads of headroom in the back, although a five six-footers will find rear legroom a bit tight. The rear seats offer a range of flexible options; the two outer seats recline as well as slide forwards to extend boot space.

If you remove the centre seat they also slide sideways to create a comfortable four-seater, although the seats are heavy and rearranging them is not the work of a moment. If you need extra load space the backrests fold, or you can remove the rear seats entirely to create a van-like 1760-litre load bay.

With all the rear seats in place the boot is quite shallow, but has a useable rectangular shape. Bear in mind that if you opt for a space-saver spare wheel you'll lose the false floor and useful extra storage.

Should I buy one?

The Yeti is still a great small SUV. The wide number of seating options on offer makes it particularly practical, and apart from the choppy ride it drives very nicely, too.

In Monte Carlo spec it has a stylish and distinctive look that will appeal to many buyers, and comes loaded with a decent level of kit – although Skoda still want to charge you extra for sat-nav.

That said, against the standard SE model it does look expensive. Granted, you do get a more potent diesel engine – the most powerful SE has 138bhp – but for real world driving the lower-powered engine is perfectly adequate and it's slightly more efficient. For this reason, if you want a mid-spec Yeti 4x4, the SE would still be our model of choice.

You might also want to look at our 2014 Car of the Year, the Nissan Qashqai. In 1.6 dCi 130 Tenka trim it’s more expensive that the Monte Carlo, but our Target Price shows you can bring the price down to Β£24,500 if you haggle. For that you get a very high spec – including sat-nav – a roomier cabin, smoother ride and a more efficient engine, although it is front-wheel drive only and a fair bit slower.

What Car? says...

Rivals

Nissan Qashqai

Suzuki SX4 S-Cross

Skoda Yeti Monte Carlo

Engine size 2.0-litre diesel

Price from Β£24,390

Power 168bhp

Torque 258lb ft

0-62mph 8.4 seconds

Top speed 125mph

Fuel economy 49.6mpg

CO2 149g/km