I can’t remember the precise words of a text I received from a work colleague back in 2009, but it was something along the lines of “What the f*** is that?” He had just seen a television ad for the new Skoda Yeti.
Clearly, he wasn’t a fan. But something about Skoda’s crossover had prompted him to send a text announcing his horror at the bold and quirky styling. Shouldn't great design do that? Needless to say, I disagreed with his opinion.
The Skoda Yeti was one of the first cars I tested for PetrolBlog and it remains one of my favourite cars of the last decade. The styling is one thing, but the Yeti is also great to drive, well-packaged and offers good value for money.
Little wonder that people were prepared to wait up to six months to take delivery of their new Yeti. You may also remember that the Skoda website toppled over following a memorable appearance on Top Gear.
Folk just love the Skoda Yeti. Even those with a dislike for crossovers and small SUVs find it hard to resist the car. Why? The answer is probably twofold.
Firstly, there’s the styling. In its original form, the Skoda Yeti looked quite unlike anything else on the road. It had the shape of a Matra Rancho for the new millennium and a face that gave it character and charm. In a me-too sector, the Yeti was bold and adventurous.
Then there’s the name – Yeti. Compare and contrast with the likes of Qashqai, Kadjar, Captur, HR-V and EcoSport, all of which are devoid of warmth and personality. Yeti, on the other hand, has the potential to feel like a family pet. It's accessible and potentially loveable.
And love it people do. On a trip to Austria in 2014, my children were beside themselves at the prospect of being given a Skoda Yeti rental car. When the man in the red Avis suit handed us a set of Skoda keys, they were like those kids on a TV ad when their parents have announced they’re off to Disneyland.
Three years on, they still talk about the Avis Yeti with great fondness, even if it was a post-facelift version. Which brings me to the point of this quick blog.
In 2013, Skoda began chipping away at the Yeti’s character by giving it a new corporate face. In an instant, the Yeti became less friendly and less charming. Still, at the least the name was still in place. I was even hopeful that Skoda might decide to name its seven-seat big brother the Grand Yeti. Alas, no, because that became the Kodiaq.
And today, Autocar is speculating that the replacement for the Skoda Yeti will be called the Karoq when it arrives next year. Sorry, what? The Karoq?
— Autocar (@autocar) April 27, 2017
It’s bad enough that the next generation Yeti looks so generic and characterless, but ditching the name would be a massive step in the wrong direction. Skoda, if by the faintest of hope you stumble across PetrolBlog, think carefully before killing one of the best car names of recent years.
I’ve been pondering for a while that the best years of Skoda might be behind us. Even within the confines of the Volkswagen empire, Skoda managed to retain some individuality and personality. The Felicia Fun, the diesel-engined Fabia vRS, the Roomster and the Yeti are four examples of characterful Skodas. Even the more corporate Octavia vRS, Citigo Monte Carlo and Superb somehow manage to stand alone within VAG.
But the new face of the Octavia, the bland but by all accounts brilliant Kodiaq, and the next generation Yeti could be signs that Volkswagen is about to shorten the apron strings and tie a double-knot for good measure.
If this is goodbye, let us mourn the passing of one of the last individual cars in an increasingly bland and predictable segment. Thanks for the memories, Skoda Yeti.
Edit, 28 April 2017: Skoda has confirmed that the Yeti's replacement will indeed be called the Karoq. A press release states:
"ŠKODA's new compact SUV is called the KAROQ. The name and its spelling originate from the language of the Alutiiq, an indigenous tribe who live on an island off the southern coast of Alaska. For the name of the new compact SUV, ŠKODA has drawn on the spelling of the ŠKODA KODIAQ and in doing so, has created a consistent nomenclature for the brand's current and future SUV models. The ŠKODA KAROQ will be introduced to the public for the first time in Stockholm on 18 May and represents a further milestone in ŠKODA's SUV campaign."
There's apparently no truth in the rumour that Skoda's next model will be called the Kangiqsualujjuaq, named after a small village in Canada. Good luck with that one, SEO chaps.
Hat tip to David Milloy for the headline inspiration.