With the advent of French competition in the name of the Renault Duster and Renault Koleos SUVs onto the Indian soil, it would become sort of hard for other established players in India like Tata and Skoda. Well, the Skoda for its Yeti and Tata for its Aria. The Skoda Yeti debuted before the Tata Aria at various shows however it was the latter which was first launched on Indian soil. Not that it had many takers for it and neither does the Yeti have many people going gaga over it. Well actually speaking there is no comparison between the two due to the very fact that the Yeti is a compact SUV whereas the Aria is a 7 seater people mover or rather crossover. But the only factor that binds them, as you guessed from the title, is their price tag. Its very rare that I actually speak about the price of a car early on in an article however I can’t think of any other factor for the cars on test here. But then since they fall in the same price bracket and are sort of off roaders, its not criminal to put them in the same ball park. So here comes the comparison of the Skoda Yeti in India as also the Tata Aria in India.
On the looks front none of the cars here would walk down a Donna Cavalli ramp but then since a winner has to be purely picked up, then it would be the Skoda Yeti. Those boxy looks coupled to a small greenhouse do indeed seem favorable in front of the Tata Aria. While the Yeti is all about boxiness, the Aria is more of metal poise. It looks hewn from a single slab of metal. It carries the Tata family face as also the stance of the Tata Indigo Manza. It more or less mimics the Toyota Innova in the rest of its body structure. The Yeti in the meanwhile doesn’t resemble any other car in the Indian market. The Skoda grille upfront looks similar to the one found on the Laura and the Superb. While the Aria has got beefy 17 inch tyres, the Skoda Yeti makes do with 16 inch tyres. On the road though, it is the Aria which gets lots of road presence whereas the Yeti with its quirky looks would guarantee second glances. So overall, it is the Yeti whose design would age well with time whereas the Aria would fade into oblivion.
Tata Motors have come a long way in designing interiors of their cars starting from the Tata Indica Vista. The Vista era signaled a new beginning for Tata and interior quality has improved by leaps and bounds. Though it still cannot be compared with the Czech here, it definitely can be compared with the Marutis and Mahindras. High set seats provide good all round visibility and the foam used for the seats is also just right. However the aircon vent which only blows air onto one’s elbows plus the uneven panel gaps in some places on the dashboard do jolt one back into reality that this is a Tata product after all. Has anyone heard of seven goggle holders in the roof? No, then you need to take a look at the Tata Aria in India. Second row of seats is also comfortable and believe it or not, Tata makes one of the most comfortable cars around. The third row of seats however is not so spacious as say the Innova however for most of the Indians, it would suffice. The Skoda Yeti in India gets the same high quality interiors like the other Skodas. This means a 4 spoke steering wheel with controls on it barring the Bluetooth, automatic climate control and comfortable interiors. The last part however is a bit skeptical since the Skoda Yeti is a pure 4 seater like the BMW X1. Boot space however for the Yeti is a bit more than what the Aria can promise with its second row of seats in place. However the Yeti boasts of an ace up its sleeve and that is having the second row of seats completely removed and stowed away whereas the Aria’s can only split forward. However in the overall usability quotient, it would be the Aria coming out on tops.
Both the SUVs out here have different constructions. The Aria is a body on frame type whereas the Yeti is a car like monocoque in construction. On the handling front, the Yeti has a slight edge due to its low center of gravity than the Aria. Its steering wheel also is more precisely tuned and hence delivers that all important feel on the highway as also in the city. However the Aria claws back lost ground by feeling more stable in highway speeds. This inspite of it having a higher ground clearance. The Aria is also fairly easy to drive but the turning radius is a bit more than the Yeti’s. Both these cars have 4×4 drive trains but without a low ratio, they both are redundant to off-roading. The Aria has got the more easier of the 4×4 systems which can be toggled via a switch on the go, the Yeti has a more permanent intelligent 4 wheel drive system which can detect wheel slippage and accordingly send or reduce power to that wheel. Ride quality is a bit firm on the Yeti whereas the Aria has got better damping properties, ones which wouldn’t let the occupants know of what is going on beneath. Though the Aria does roll a fair bit, it is almost in the same ball park as the Innova, which doesn’t let one know that it is trying to take a corner at a fair clip of speed. NVH is nicely damped in both however the Aria feels a little bit let down by the fair amount of engine noise filtering in at higher speeds.
As far as the engines are concerned, there is no similarity in their cubic displacement but then the torque and power figures are similar. The 2.2 liter DICOR engine from the Aria produces 140 Bhp of power and 320 Nm of torque, the same figure as what the 2.0 liter TDI engine of the Yeti produces. Both come with turbochargers but transmission options change with the Aria having 5 speed manual transmission while the Yeti makes do with a 6 speed transmission. Transmission changes are good in both with the Aria’s gear knob standing out like a sore thumb in the whole package. While the Yeti is quicker than the 2.5 tonner Aria, the Aria claws back lost ground by having a higher top speed. The Skoda Yeti boasts of very good brakes with ABS and EBD, the Aria gets slightly spongy brakes with ABS and traction control. Safety is almost same with both, though the Yeti features a crash tested body frame whereas the Aria’s has to yet prove itself. The engine and gearbox tuning of the Aria is done in such a way that it is highly drivable unlike the Yeti’s motor which tends to stall at low speeds.
Fuel efficiency for the Aria is a tad higher than the Yeti at an overall 13.2 kmpl whereas the Yeti manages 11.6 kmpl overall.
Finally, the time has come to choose the better of the two and it would be a tough call on this one. Those who prefer a smaller footprint and don’t require two extra seats plus the Skoda badge would look no further than the Skoda Yeti in India. It is a practical SUV marred by the slightly highish price as also the lesser fuel efficiency. On the other hand, the Tata Aria in India is a well built product and with a good amount of features supporting it. Infact if the feature levels in the Aria were to be offered in the Yeti as an option, then the Yeti would easily be available at the price of the top end Superb. So in a nutshell, the Tata Aria, especially been a desi product wins this battle overall. The icing on the cake is the pricing. The Tata Aria price in India for the top end variant is Rs 15.5 lakhs whereas the Skoda Yeti price in India stands at Rs 16 lakhs for the top end variant. All these prices are ex-show room, Mumbai. If you had any doubts about these two SUVs, then the doubts would have been dispelled by now after looking at the prices.