I had never been so nervous in all my life as I waited for the bods at Skoda to collect their car. I had gone over it with a toothcomb and as far as I could see I hadn’t done it any damage and it looked nearly as clean as when it arrived – well it should do I’d been washing it down and hoovering it out for what seemed like hours.
I reflected on my week with the Yeti and can honestly say I’ve not had so much fun in a car since Dear Charlie first allowed me behind the wheel of his sports car in 1998.
Oh Wow! I remember that day. He had knocked on my door and led me out of my subterranean hole into the afternoon sunlight one Sunday. And there she sat positively purring on the other side of the road, a sleek sculpted vision that just begged to be touched. I had no idea he’d let me drive but he showed me over and gallantly held the driver’s door open for me to sink into the cream leather sets. She was so new.
I remember feeling terrified and excited at the same time as she drew away from the kerb. The feeling of freedom and trepidation warring with each other as I drove her over Chelsea Bridge and then: then the real fun! Cruising down Kings Road and everyone staring. I had a grin a mile wide and it appeared to me to be infectious, for everyone I looked at, or caught the eye of, seemed to be smiling back – and even then that was a result in London.
And the car I drove that afternoon? Well it was making headlines back then though now possibly people would laugh; it was the Mazda MX-5 NB (the first one without pop-up lights). At the time she was a revelation. I’d like to say she still is for we still own her and at present she’s sitting outside on the drive, still going strong and I’d like to think- especially in the summer – still turning heads!
With a Skoda the last thing you would think was that it turned heads – but it did, not necessarily for looks, more like curiosity. I let my curiosity take wings and I was surprised. In my one week I had determined that I would really put the Yeti through it’s paces school runs, trip to the vet, furniture removal, off-roading, weekly shop, family outing, towing the horsebox, the works.
And the real question was would the Yeti be able to do everything I used to do with my Duchess, Dora the Land Rover Discovery – the car I had had to reluctantly send to the scrap heap only 18 months before?
Let’s just say that for starters, unlike Dora - may she rest in pieces - I didn’t feel like I was driving a tank. In fact it was exactly like driving the Golf but more fun ‘cos it is higher and I could once again peer into everyone’s front rooms and gardens again and more importantly I could see over everyone else’s car to find out why there was a traffic jam. It’s these small things I find I miss so much in an ordinary bulk standard car.
Apart from the drive the most notable difference between the Yeti and Dora was that the Yeti didn’t drink nearly as heavily. In fact I averaged over 40 mpg the whole time even on the school run. Now Dora even on a good day struggled to make 28 mpg on that run!
Now there are many reasons why people have 4x4s and for the moment I will not indulge myself, especially with those who have 4x4s when they live in towns and cities. However, in the countryside a 4x4 really starts to work.
I have livestock that has to be moved around and taken from field to field and a 4x4 is most useful and more convenient that borrowing a neighbour’s old tractor - it’s also warmer and is more often than not fitted out with at least teh most rudimentry in-flight entertainment. Anyway, the most important thing about most 4x4s is that they are large. There’s usually enough room in the back of a Disco to bung a few sheep. In the past I’ve seen up to eight ewes in the back of one and that’s before you slap on a trailer.
And that is where I found my first problem, not in the volume capacity of the Yeti but in its pulling power. Although the engine had no problems, the fact is the Yeti is just too light a vehicle and you could really feel the animals moving around. Braking was scary as I didn't feel 100% confident that the horsebox wouldn't push us on. Admittedly I was trying to pull a large horsebox with a 18 hand hunter in the back – I’m sure we weren’t far short of one and a half tons so quite a big ask for a relatively small 4x4 – but as Eric, a farmer friend of mine in Yorkshire, would have said: “By gum it’s game!”
(Look out for Part Two - The real problem with the Yeti...)