Hyundai ix35 vs Skoda Yeti

* Hyundai ix35 or Skoda Yeti?  * All you need to know. Which small SUV should you buy? * Best versions named - and the ones to avoid...

Hyundai ix35 vs Skoda Yeti

Both the Hyundai ix35 and the Skoda Yeti were refreshed for 2014, each getting restyled looks to bring them into line with the rest of their respective ranges.

They're popular choices for drivers that want a practical family car, but also with those that want a touch of off-road or towing ability. However, which makes more sense and the better buy?

Are they both available with 4WD?

Both cars come with the choice of 2WD or 4WD, but if you want a touch more of the off-roader image from your car then the Yeti is the one to go for. It comes with an Outdoor version, which adds extra body-protecting cladding front and rear and around the wheel arches.

Indeed, if you want a 4WD Yeti then you will have to have these visual additions, as you can only get the tech on the Outdoor - although you can opt for an Outdoor in 2WD format.

However, the ix35 doesn’t come with such additions, and you can get a 4WD model that looks just the same as the normal model. You’ll end up paying more for an ix35 that is more capable off road, though, the cheapest of which starting at £22,995, while a 4WD Yeti can be had from £21,090.

What are the Hyundai ix35 and Skoda Yeti like in the cabin?

If you want the high-up seating position that is associated with SUVs, then the Hyundai will be right up your street. It’s elevated position means that the driver gets a good view out of the large windscreen. The only downside is the small rear windows mean over-the-shoulder visibility is restricted. The seat adjusts well enough that you will be able to get comfy up front, although some drivers might want the wheel to go lower than it does.

The ix35’s dashboard is easy to operate, even on the move, with big, clear buttons and dials used for most of the controls.

In the back there is plenty of space for all but tall adults - those taller than six foot will find head and knee room a bit tight thanks to the sloping roofline. The floor is almost totally flat, though, and the doors open really wide, so it is great for getting kids in and out of the back seats.

In the Yeti, the driver sits much lower down than you do in most SUVs, although its tall windows and thin pillars mean that you get a great view out in all directions. There is also plenty of adjustment on the seat and wheel so drivers of all sizes will be able to get comfy without any problems.

There's plenty of head and legroom in the back of the Skoda, and you can even slide the three individual rear seats to make the most of the legroom on offer.

How practical are the boots in the Hyundai ix35 and Skoda Yeti?

As well as being slid, the Yeti’s three individual rear seats can also be removed entirely to offer a van-like 1760 litres of maximum boot space. Be warned, that removing the seats is not the work of a moment, requiring some muscle.

Even with the seats in place, the boot will have more than enough space for your average family’s needs, with 510 litres available. It’s a useful rectangular shape as well, with no troublesome jutting out bits.

Even if it doesn’t come with quite such a clever set of gimmicks, the ix35’s boot is one of its strong points. It is large, well-shaped and comes with 60/40 split folding rear seats. It also has an almost-flat boot lip.

With the seats in place it is slightly larger than the Skoda, with 591 litres on offer, but its maximum capacity is smaller, at 1436 litres.

What are they like to drive?

Low-mileage drivers are well catered for by the Skoda Yeti, with the 1.2-litre petrol engine performingly surprisingly well in a car this size. It is a smooth revving engine and all that most buyers will need. True, it needs a little more work when it comes to hauling larger loads, but it remains smooth and quiet when pushed.

The diesel engines are less quiet, especially when you work them hard. Many diesel buyers will choose the 103bhp 1.6 TDI, and this lowest powered version only gets a five-speed gearbox, so you end up changing gear more often around town to keep it happy.

There's also a 108bhp 2.0 TDI, while four-wheel-drive Yetis get 108bhp, 138bhp and 168bhp versions of the 2.0 TDI engine, or a 158bhp 1.8 petrol

The most powerful 168bhp 2.0-litre diesel is a flexible engine that delivers satisfying pace. However, it is available only with four-wheel drive. If you value heavyweight towing ability, or regularly drive in poor conditions, the four-wheel-drive version will undoubtedly be worth the extra, but even two-wheel-drive Yetis offer planted and grippy handling, so think carefully before spending the extra £1640 it costs for four-wheel drive.

The ix35 has only got the two diesel engines - a 1.7-litre and a 2.0-litre. The 1.7-litre is a bit flat at low revs, although feels adequate when pushed. The larger 2.0-litre is the stronger performer, providing plenty of torque low down. 

In all models, though, refinement is the ix35’s weak point. The diesels are harsh and noisy, both under acceleration and at motorway speeds. There is a lot of road and wind noise as well, so even in the petrol models you’ll be reaching for the stereo in an attempt to drown out the din.

What equipment do I get, and which trim is best?

The Yeti comes in three trims, S, SE and Elegance. Entry-level S comes with all the basics that you would want, including manual air conditioning, four electric windows, cooled glovebox and 16-inch alloy wheels all as standard. We’d take the step up to SE trim though, as it brings rear parking sensors, cruise control, an aux-in socket and dual-zone air conditioning as standard.

Elegance adds heated leather seats, auto wipers, bi-xenon lights with LED daytime running lights and hill hold control.

The ix35’s three trims are similarly named to the Skoda’s - S, SE and Premium. The entry-level trim offers a good blend of value and equipment, with four electric windows, USB and aux-in connections and 16-inch alloys. The mid-level SE trim is where most of the kit arrives, such as front and rear heated seats, Bluetooth, automatic lights and wipers, dual-zone climate control, cruise control and rear parking sensors.

Premium’s additions include keyless entry and start, the 7-inch satellite navigation system, chrome detailing and bi-xenon headlights.

How much do they cost to run?

As you would expect, how cheap these cars are to run depends on which model you go for. If keeping running costs in check is an absolute priority then opt for the 2WD version in both cases.

Even the 2WD versions of the ix35 fall some way short of the most efficient Yetis, with the most economical 1.7-litre diesel emitting 139g/km and averaging 53.3mpg.

In contrast, the Yeti emits 119g/km, if you go for the 1.6-litre diesel Greenline model, saving a decent chunk in vehicle and company car tax over the Hyundai. The official economy is 61.4mpg, while our True MPG testers reckon that 55.7mpg is realistically achievable.

Our pick of the range - the 1.2-litre petrol - still averages an impressive 44.1mpg and emits 142g/km of CO2.

Which one is safest?

Both of these cars come with the reassurance of a five-star Euro NCAP rating, but the Hyundai has marginally higher scores in the individual areas assessed by the crash testers. It gets an 88% score in child safety, and all versions of the ix35 come with six airbags, stability control and whiplash-reducing front head restraints.

The Yeti’s child-occupant protection is slightly lower, at 78%, but it still gets a maximum NCAP rating. This is helped by the fact that all Yetis come with stability control, active anti-whiplash head restraints and front, side and curtain airbags. Even entry-level models get a driver’s knee airbag, too.

Which one should I buy?

The Hyundai ix35 offers the space and high-driving position small SUV buyers crave, but in truth, the Yeti shades it in almost every other area.

It has a flexible seating arrangement, with a vast amount of loadspace available if you take everything out. It is the better car to drive, and it is more refined than the Hyundai.

If you are a private buyer, then the 1.2TSI version of the Skoda Yeti makes a fantastic amount of sense, while company car buyers will be best served by the economical 1.6-litre Greenline.