Extinction Alert – Yeti Falls Victim to Atonement-Led Rationalisation

Next month the Škoda Yeti, arguably the nicest VAG product of the last decade, and certainly one of the most individual, will be replaced by a lightly reworked Tiguateciaq, with the name of Karoq.

Source: Škoda Auto

According to Škoda, “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.” I still think it’s rubbish as a name, but so is ‘Qashqai’, and it does awfully well.

Perhaps we shouldn’t mourn the end of the name too much. Several middle-aged women of my acquaintance have vowed that they would never drive anything called a Yeti, however good it was. Since middle-aged women are a disproportionately large component of the compact SUV demographic, perhaps VAG have taken heed.

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The shame is that the replacement is so unremarkable. The Yeti didn’t look like an outsider in the Škoda range, but it could have passed for the sort sub-Freelander product Land-Rover might have made if they had the means, inclination, and less of a fanatical devotion to LR322 manipulation as the easy answer to every question.

The Yeti ‘works’ on so many levels. The ‘visor’ windscreen / A pillar / B pillar relationship isn’t as extreme as the Roomster / Praktik, but it looks just right. Likewise the upright tail. This is a practical vehicle, not a fatuous coupe-SUV, or a tall estate car. Off-road capability was taken seriously – the Yeti is a proper four wheel drive. Most of the latest crop of so-called SUVs don’t even offer 4WD as an option.

The new pretender shares the production lines at Kvasiny with the SEAT Ateca, but there’s more differentiation than with the ŠkodEAT Rapedo.  The Karoq is hardly inspiring, and bodes badly for the stylistic independence of the sub-Volkswagen VAG brands.

14 thoughts on “Extinction Alert – Yeti Falls Victim to Atonement-Led Rationalisation”

  1. The new Karoq looks like a conservative facelift of the 2006 Mitsubishi Outlander. The (pre-facelift) Yeti was unique, although i see a lot of a modern Matra Rancho in it, but this Karoq is just another inconspicious member of Volkswagens quickly growing SUV herd.

    I know it is made for stealing Nissans customers for the Qashqai, but i am afraid, it will steal more customers from its brother, the Seat Ateca. Conservative people, and those SUV are made for conservative older people, will often prefer Skoda and not Seat.
    Maybe VW is successful at the moment with the Tiguan – Karoq – Ateca – Kodiaq – Q2 – herd, but will this success last for the next years, when this herd will be a group of old cars with boring design ?

    1. Markus – good points. I find myself thinking of VAG not so much as German Leyland, but as German BMC.

      The Farina Oxbridge (5 brands), and Westminster (3 brands) were the first serious efforts at integrating the Austin and Nuffield families. They were mediocre at best, and aged rapidly.

      The complacent regurgitation of mid-’90s designs can’t go on forever. Golf, A3, TT, A4, A6 etc.

      The SEAT Leon and Ibiza are the rare bright spots, but how long can they maintain their individuality, which comes at price?

      All these fines, and the cost of developing the new generation of electric axolotls must be depleting VAG’s reserves seriously. Something’s got to give.

  2. I still say that the Yeti is of the last ten years what the early versions of the Subaru Forester was in the late nineties and noughties. It was kind of unique and quirky but really practical and suited the lives of many. Now the Yeti is going the same way as that car, adopting a more middle of the road profile. Of course, the Roomster is going the same way, marking the end of an era of distinctive and characterful Skoda design.

  3. As much as I do not care for these type of vehicles, I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for the Yeti. It’s a friendly looking thing, which is possibly the reason why it wasn’t the rip-roaring success it could have been. (Not that it sold badly you understand). I’ve actually gone as far as to recommend one to a number of acquaintances in the market for such a vehicle. Tellingly, none took the bait.

    The Karoq appears to be as charmless looking a device as the bigger Kodiak, but VAG know their onions, so…

  4. I agree completely with the comment that the Yeti had occupied the position of earlier versions of the Subaru Forester. Both were true utility vehicles, able to go most places, small enough not to be an embarrassment in town, decent carrying capacity and no “Look at me”‘ styling features. The Forester and the Yeti both had decent sales despite or because of their niche position; how disappointing to see the Yeti become so mainstream and anonymous in appearance. I would have thought that the person who has decided to buy Skoda has already moved away from the obvious VW/Audi SUV choice so would not be offended by a little original design.

  5. I find the loss of Skoda’s Roomster even more lamentable. That was a fabulous family car – quirky, but not in a ‘fun’ way, and very, very practical. It’s the kind of car that French automaker you’re thinking about right now should be making.

    Jozef Kaban’s work at Skoda was, in a sense, too professional for its own good. While on the Autobahn the other day, I asked my girlfriend to compare three VAG offerings that happened to be driving along, side by side (current Audi A4 Avant, Passat Variant, Skoda Super estate). She was in full agreement that the Skoda was the most upmarket-looking of that trio, which just isn’t right.

    Under Kaban, Skoda became ‘premium’, which isn’t where I’d place the Skoda brand. I much preferred the remotely odd practicality of Thomas Ingentlath’s Skodas. Those cars were delightfully unpretentious and possessed the kind of warmth that’s become almost extinct among modern cars.

  6. As a very happy owner of a Škoda Yeti I’m utterly disgusted by the look of that new Carrot. And I mean who wants to say “I drive a Carrot” with a straight face?!!? It shares the awfully peculiar “short, upright and truncated” proportions of the badge engineered sibling it is based on, the Ateca. Sigh. Whereas indeed, I also thought the Yeti is exactly what a new modern Defender should have been. But the men at VAG doesn’t see it that way and think mimicking every crossover out there is the way to gain more sales. And they might be right if you go by the other things happening in the UK presently. The sheep shall follow the other sheep. Škoda as a sensible but off-beat company stopped existing when they killed the Roomster and they certainly sealed the deal when they killed the Yeti. At least the Superb still exists (for now).

    Only good thing from this is that they did NOT call this abomination the Yeti. So by calling it the Carrot the resale value of my car is not ruined.

    1. The Yeti was built as fast as the factory allocated to it could churn them out. Kvasiny’s capacity is what it is and the mothership would never ever spend money on giving Škoda more capacity than merely “just enough”. Also building the Superb the Yeti was only produced in greater numbers when the previous Superb started to wane in popularity. Škoda could have sold many, many more Yetis if it had had the supply possibilities KIA has for example with their Sportage factory. So it is difficult to make any objective comment on Škoda sales figures as a “keep them down” VAG subsidiary vs Škoda having been independent… But then if they still were independent they’d never have been able to make the Yeti to begin with (with it being a bastard child with Polo front bits and Audi TT rear bits to name but two obvious parents of its concoction of parts!)

  7. From Yeti to utter anonymity. Without seeing the front grille, there is no way to even tell it’s a Škoda.

    1. The important bit is that the Škoda branding will appear on the start-up screen, to remind the happy renter where he or she sits in the grand VAG hierarchy.

      The automotive future is ‘software defined’, as J-P Imparato told us when he launched the Alfa Toenail as “The Ultimate Software-Defined Machine”. Nearly a year on, I’m still not sure what this entails, or what pleasure or comfort it might bring me.

  8. I think individuality is punished. Yeti sells well? Great, the market accepts the idea of a Skoda SUV – you may have a version of our smaller MQB parts matrix. Roomster sells badly? Never make such an abomination again!

    1. True. But the Yeti really took off when they deleted the front fog lights alas. That was apparently THE most polarising thing on the car! Not the boxy shape. Yet the entire X range of BMWs also have such fog lights – albeit smaller. Go have a look at any current X model and study the incongruous position of their front fog lights.

      Škoda were well advanced in testing the new Roomster for launch but thankfully they canned it. It was going to be, just like this awful badge engineered Ateca Carrot thing, merely a very poorly executed badge engineered version of the VW Caddy.

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