‘Speak softly and carry a big stick’. Not a proverb that can be used that often when talking about modern performance cars. Most have traded unassuming looks for big wings, giant wheels and stickers shouting about engine output or cylinder count. Even fewer modified cars can lay claim to speaking softly – which just makes this Skoda Yeti even more appealing.
If you haven’t gathered yet, this Yeti is no longer just a Volkswagen based family run-about. It’s a 700+ horsepower SUV with a power-to-weight ratio knocking on a McLaren F1’s door. Obviously, this isn’t just an ECU tune and air filter worth of fettling. Oh no, this Yeti has jettisoned its 1.8L turbocharged four-cylinder for a 2.5L five pot from an Audi TT RS. Yes, you read that correctly.
The Yeti is based on Volkswagen’s PQ35 platform which is shared with Audi’s TT, making the conversion slightly less daunting. However it wasn’t just the engine and gearbox that were plundered from the TT. John Danby Racing, the English firm who built the car, transplanted the Haldex four wheel drive system, gearbox, instrument cluster and other assorted goodies from the TT into the SUV which still includes luxuries like an immobiliser and functioning MFD.
The Audi sourced five cylinder was originally installed with fairly major bolt-on mods and was seemingly happy making a little over 500 horsepower, allowing the owner to make a mockery of far more exotic metal out on track. That was until the motor spat piston rings out of one of its cylinders into the sump. Not so happy after all then. Things have got a little more serious after that incident.
As the Yeti was built for track days, the engine has been suitably beefed-up after its piston damaging tantrum to ensure power can be made reliably henceforth. In its latest guise the Audi motor has been treated to Schrick cams, forged pistons and connecting rods and fairly extensive head work. Teamed up with an Iroz Motorsport turbo kit and an 8000rpm rev limit (previously 7000rpm), 720 horsepower and 750 Nm of torque is expected when the car is finally tuned on 98 octane fuel.
While the power output is impressive, ever more so is the fact that the Yeti has shed around 270kg despite the heavier engine and addition of a roll-cage. The drastic weight loss is thanks to carbon fibre doors, bonnet and boot lid, which were painted blue after fitting to ensure ultimate anonymity. Sticking with the theme, carbon fibre race seats have been fitted up-front while the rear seats have been turfed altogether. While the race seats reduce weight, they also ensure no one is thrown out the rear window when 700 horsepower is directed at all four wheels…
Just as interesting as the carbon fibre bodywork is the adjustable Haldex four wheel drive controller which allows for on-the-fly adjustments to be made to the Yeti’s torque bias. The controller (mounted on a keyring!) allows the driver to choose from different settings for race and road, changing the car’s handling characteristics from the driver’s seat. As the Yeti is used for track duties, Toyo 888R tyres are fitted to the 17″ wheels and updated brakes courtesy of PB Brakes look after stopping duties.
The Yeti is by no means finished either, with final tuning of the new engine still to happen, the full fury of the new set-up hasn’t even hit the track yet. The video below is from when the car was running a measly 500 or so horsepower and it shows the Yeti is more than capable of embarrassing some pretty serious hardware – including what appears to be a 991 gen’ Porsche 911 Turbo. The car’s performance is even more impressive when you consider that the owner has persisted with relatively fragile manual gearboxes because they’re “more fun”.
The attention to detail, time, money and emotional investment in this build is absolutely phenomenal and anyone who’s interested can see the full build-thread (bordering on 100 pages) here. There’s something satisfying about a car with so much potential and sheer speed that doesn’t shout about it and sure, it might not be for everyone, but it’s got our vote. Told you it was a big stick.