Driving past a local Skoda dealer (whose name will never be spoken) I noticed a nice line of vehicles in two-tone paint jobs. Not like the slightly odd Peugeot ‘Coupe Franche’ design but rather a proper old school two colour design. It looks great and very individual indeed on various models including our old favourite, the Skoda Yeti.
It’s great when a car maker does something that’s a bit different. Obviously it doesn’t always work (does it, PT Cruiser?) but when it does it adds an extra frisson of pleasure to car ownership. Everyone likes to be seen as an individual.
It’s well known that I like a Skoda (see previous article) but am currently wondering if they haven’t gone too far this time. I speak of course of the new Skoda Yeti which is likely to be with us in 2018. Look at the representative image above: Is it a VW Tiguan or a SEAT Ateca? Do you see my problem?
It is easy to think of the Yeti as an old-timer whose days have gone. The sort of car purchased by your grandparents to ferry Labrador dogs up and down motorways to canine shows and the like. Certainly, in design terms, it has been left behind but is that really so bad?
You can buy it with a punchy diesel engine and, for the extrovert, in the funky Monaco trim spec. Those who like something a bit classier can go for the Laurin & Klement version and so on. Now it has appeared in this fetching two-tone paint which has given the old girl a bit of a makeover. The current model Yeti is functional, comfortable, affordable and popular. Why not leave well enough alone?
Car makers are convinced that we, the motorists, are hungrier than ever for more technology. I’m not sure that’s entirely correct. Because manufacturer X does something, Manufacturer Y has to do the same or they feel left out. No brand wants to miss a trick and with the giant shadow of Elon Musk hanging over them they don’t want to be left behind. Play safe; that’s the mantra.
The trouble is, in their race to keep up with the herd and make economies of scale at the same time they are forgetting individuality, at least in the mainstream car market. The sharing of components and platforms and the like has resulted in design compromise. It’s probably doubtful that most people give a hoot for what goes on under the skin. They probably aren’t fussed that, say, cars of a type from the greater Volkswagen stable are essentially the same, just as long as there is some variety of appearance. We want our cars to look the part.
Certainly, there are differences between the Ateca, the Tiguan and the forthcoming Yeti as you can see from the images (principally, they all have their brand ‘face’) but I wonder how many drivers could tell them apart at a distance. In olden times, cars could be identified on profile alone. Not so now.
It’s too late for the Yeti now. The dice have rolled, the runes are cast. I guess that’s the way it is but it just seems a shame. Every time I drive the current Yeti I think that I would like to own one, especially the Outdoor model. Already, good though it may very well prove to be, I am unlikely to think the same of the new model. I really like a Skoda, but I prefer individuality. Call me old fashioned but I reckon individuality is a dying art. Geoff Maxted