Skoda Yeti Elegance

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The new Skoda Yeti. It's not remotely abominable and it's certainly not made of snow. Nor does it have a big footprint – whether you're talking about the carbon variety or the amount of space it takes up on the road.

It only went on sale in mid-September, so sightings are still about as rare as those of its legendary Himalayan counterpart. But that should quickly change as British car-buyers flock to their local dealers to buy this practical and stylish mini-crossover in large numbers – or at least that's what Skoda is hoping, anyway.

Certainly, the Yeti has an awful lot going for it. Its styling, foreshadowed by a well-received design study displayed at motor shows a couple of years ago, has an appealing chunkiness to it, but completely avoids the off-putting, even intimidating, look of some off-road vehicles. The new car's rather upright design also pays off in terms of interior space; luggage and occupants are both well catered for, and the rear seats are very easy to remove should the need arise to carry a particularly bulky item.

The Yeti's ride comfort is also very impressive and its on-road performance is pretty car-like too, easily holding its own with that of other so-called soft-roaders such as the Nissan Qashqai, which is probably its main rival. My testing was mainly of the lively 140-horsepower diesel version, which represents a good compromise between speed and economy, but I also had the chance to try the smooth 1.8-litre turbocharged petrol engine as well; normally diesels work better in boxy SUVs or semi-SUVs but in this case, the 1.8 petrol's torque means it does a pretty good job too. A smaller 1.2-litre petrol engine, also turbocharged, is available; with that, the Yeti's price starts at just £13,725.

That the Yeti shows the excellent VW-style levels of quality and finish we've come to expect from modern Skodas is not much of a surprise; less expected is its capable off-road performance in four-wheel-drive form. It isn't available with a low-range transfer box, often considered the distinguishing feature of a "proper" off-roader, but clever electronics partly compensate for this. Most buyers are expected to avoid the four-wheel-drive option, though. They will save a bit of weight, money and fuel in the process, but still enjoy the Yeti's high SUV-style driving position, practicality and on-road performance, benefits that make it one of the most complete affordable family cars you can buy.

Skoda yeti Elegance CR 2.0 TDI 140 bhp 4x4

Price £21,320

Top speed 118mph 0-60mph 9.9 seconds

Consumption 46.3 mpg

CO2 emissions 159g/km

Best for killing off those old Skoda jokes once and for all

Also worth considering? Nissan Qashqai, Peugeot 3008, Skoda Octavia estate

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