Most buyers considering a family car will find it hard to ignore the latest crop of crossover models. Blending manageable running costs with chunky, 4x4-inspired looks and MPV versatility, these fashionable cars have huge appeal. And the Skoda Yeti is one of the best in the business right now.
Aside from slightly upright pedals, the lofty driving position is superb. And with outer back seats that can be slid back and forth to increase passenger room or luggage capacity, space can be maximised easily.
Rear legroom is similar to the B-MAX’s, but the middle seat is more comfortable and the deep 416-litre boot is 98 litres bigger than the Ford’s. Plus, the seats tumble forward to increase capacity to 1,580 litres, or they can be removed altogether to free up a van-like 1,760 litres of luggage space.
Look beyond the fact that Bluetooth isn’t standard, and the SE-specification Yeti boasts a decent amount of equipment and costs almost the same to buy as the B-MAX.
But choosing the Skoda gives you more punch for your pound, as the 104bhp 1.6-litre diesel produces 250Nm of torque – 35Nm more than the Ford. Yet long gearing means our eco-friendly GreenLine model isn’t able to outperform the B-MAX, and the engine feels laboured outside of its narrow power band.
Unfortunately, the compromises don’t end there. Not only is the 1.6-litre TDI the least refined of the VW Group’s diesels, but the GreenLine’s set-up also includes a 20mm lower ride height than standard models.
This results in a firmer ride, so the Ford has the edge on comfort and refinement. But the Yeti is still good to drive. Body movement is well controlled and the steering is accurate and well weighted. There’s plenty of grip on offer and, like the B-MAX, the Skoda proves that practical family cars don’t always have to be dull to drive.
Unfortunately, the refinement and ride quality sacrifices of the eco-tuned GreenLine don’t deliver low enough emissions. The Skoda emits 119g/km of CO2, compared to the Ford’s 104g/km. And while this only makes the tax disc £10 a year more expensive, it means the Yeti is a pricey company car. At least strong residual values win back some brownie points for the crossover. Plus, we averaged a frugal 44.5mpg.
And, despite its slightly firm ride quality and gruff engine note, the Yeti is a very enjoyable car to drive, own and spend time in. But it may not be a good enough package to defeat the new B-MAX in the sensible world of family car purchases.
Engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl, 94bhp
0-60mph: 11.8 seconds
Test economy: 39.2mpg/8.6mpl
Annual road tax: £20
Engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl, 104bhp
0-60mph: 12.2 seconds
Test economy: 44.5mpg/9.8mpl
Annual road tax: £30