In a way, these cars are as different as chalk and cheese. XUV is a burly, heavy duty SUV that threatens more than cajoles. Quintessentially Indian. Yeti is all soft, refined and proud with not one raw edge to it. Typical European. While the contrast between the two cars itself makes for an intriguing story that there is one big similarity between the two -the price. And that itself merits putting them next to each other. Much to their chagrin.Who turns more heads?
Even after seven months of the launch and with over 20,000 cars on the road, the XUV continues to turn more heads in India than the Yeti.
That despite the fact that Skoda has been around for longer and still rarely seen on the roads. But that does not mean XUV is a decidedly better looker. Rather it only exploits our fetish for anything big, burly and masculine. With its raised muscular stance and a unique "all meshed up" grille, the 5 double O is one stylish vehicle. Like all Mahindra vehicles though, the rear disappoints and the touted tattoo like tail lamps actually look quite tacky.
The Yeti on the other hand takes a different route. Compact and sleek, it is clearly an urban commuting vehicle meant to chime in with metro surroundings. With its trademark Skoda grille and larger than usual fog lamps, it has a happy looking demeanour and is easy on the eye. Unlike the XUV, it is not built to evoke extreme reactions - good or bad - and strictly adheres to the tested middle path. It will not lead to a love at first sight but it will not be surprising if you fall for it over time.
Inside : business or economy class?
The XUV would be economy but it offers too many things to fiddle around with. The Yeti would have been business but it hardly offers anything. In terms of space, the XUV wins hands down. In terms of quality, Yeti wins nonchalantly. It is basic but quality of plastic is top notch as is the fit and finish.
When compared to the XUV, attention to detail is from another planet.
The XUV overwhelms you with the list of equipment. Turn on the ignition and like a slot machine, you are greeted with 22 lights flashing on the centre console. Count the number of buttons on the instrument panel and it is double that number. It is the sort of a car that will keep the most cranky child occupied with the numerous buttons and levers. For the rest of his childhood.
It offers anything and everything you can aspire for. ABS, EBD, ESP, airbags, bluetooth, steering mounted controls, navigation, touch screen et al. The Yeti does not even offer a USB port. Ten years in India and Skoda has still not realised we do not use SD cards. Safety is well taken care of but if you ask for the other bells and whistles, Skoda might as well end up charging you like a BMW. Pity.
The grey areas?
There is always a risk when you make a car as complicated as an XUV. So many buttons and flashing lights mean something is bound to fail sooner than later. As we realised, at least three buttons on the instrument panel including the one that switches on the rear AC, worked erratically in the car. The car also has a computer on board that detects and warns of any mechanical or electrical failure inside the car, down to the loss of pressure on any of the tyres. But when the power steering fluid of our car leaked, there was no warning. Neither was there any when the brakes jammed. The Yeti never offered such luxuries. Maybe, that's why nothing failed.
Which is the better car to drive?
Yeti looks like a middle weight trying to punch above its weight against the XUV. It is much lighter than the XUV and develops less power as well. The torque is comparable and that tilts the scale decidedly in favour of the smaller beast. Another difference is that the Yeti has five to XUV's six gears. Skoda, however, has a more sorted, planted drive. The steering response is good, gear shifts are accurate and acceleration is linear. It is not very reticent and there is perceptible noise that seeps into the cabin but it is very revv happy.
The XUV falters in this. The steering is heavy and unpredictable. The engine is noisy as a college canteen, and the pedals are so hard as if made out of rock.
At 120 kph, Yeti feels like it is ambling around while the XUV shows the strain and sweat of lugging 2.5 tonnes of weight on its shoulders.
There can be no winner in a fight between creatures as diverse as these two. As it stands, the market has already pronounced its verdict. More XUVs were sold in May alone than all the Yetis since October 2010. Yeti scores in core areas of driveability, handling, performance, fuel economy and refinement. But it misses out on aspects like space, features and above all price. At R14lakh, it's a few zeroes too many. Billed as Mahindra's first global SUV, the XUV falls flat on a few counts as well. Driving it is not a pleasurable experience especially in the city and the overall level of refinement is abysmal. It is loaded to the gills as far as features and space is concerned, which as the sales show, is good enough for India. The world, however, is ruthless and greedy and demands much more.