The task would have defeated most cars, if not resulting in soiled carpets and annoyed, uncomfortable passengers and a stopover at a local burns unit. Yet the Skoda Yeti took it all in its stride. Its seating layout is the most versatile and flexible thing this side of a Lego set, its boot features more convenient ropes, nets and cubby holes than your average removal van, and the interior is deceptively cavernous.
Indeed, the Yeti is a unique beast - it feels in part like a van, in part like a 4x4, in part like an SUV, in part like a smooth saloon. And it is very good at being all these things.
On the motorway, the engine is gutsy enough for you to forget it is a diesel. The cabin is large enough for you forget you are in a compact SUV. Unlike the two Maseratis I drove the week before, the whole package is cheap and cheerful enough for you to forget where you parked it. And the build quality and dashboard are close enough to that of a VW for you to forget you're driving a Skoda.
The Yeti, which is available with some of the VW Group's latest petrol and diesel engines, has borrowed the double-clutch transmission from the parent company and is built on the Audi A5-Skoda Scout platform. It is so good, in fact, that I imagine the parent company designed it and then panicked, retroactively introducing a series of problems so as not to cannibalise its premium brands.
These problems include an irritatingly and persistent wind noise above 65 mph, a stiff driving position, cartoonish-looking bi-xenon headlights, an awkward stance that, physically speaking, makes it the vehicular equivalent of Ed Miliband, and a side profile that, as it happens, makes it resemble something an Indian wedding caterer would drive to an appointment in Slough.
VERDICT: 4 OUT OF 5
SKODA YETI ELEGANCE 4X4
||47.1 mpg (combined cycle)|
236 lb/ft @ 1,750 rpm
|Top speed:||118 mph (limited)|