What Car? Car of the Year awards 2010 - Crossover contenders

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Best buy less than £15,000
Skoda Yeti 1.2 TSI S
List price £14,585
Target Price £13,626

More than any other, this new category reflects how car buyers’ needs and desires have changed over the past couple of years.

We all want to spend a bit less without sacrificing style or functionality, which is exactly where cars such as the Skoda Yeti fit in. It’s got the looks and practicality of a compact SUV, but our favourite version costs less than some high-end superminis.

Higher up the range there are bigger-engined models with four-wheel drive, but we reckon the front-wheel-drive 1.2 TSI S is all you need. The perky turbocharged engine gives a good turn of speed, while helping to keep both the car’s fuel consumption and CO2 emissions down.

The Yeti’s cabin is as solidly built as we’ve come to expect from Skoda and there’s plenty of space all round. If the deep, well-shaped boot isn’t large enough, you can fold and tumble the rear seats for more space, or lift them out for removal van duties. It’s a lot of car for less than £15,000.

It says a lot about what great value the Yeti is that it doesn’t have many true rivals in the same price band. The Suzuki SX4 offers four-wheel drive and decent practicality, while the Kia Soul has distinctive looks and keen pricing on its side. Yet when it comes to style, space and all-round appeal, neither of these come close to the Yeti.

Skoda Yeti performance
0-62mph 11.8 seconds Top speed 109mph
Running costs
Economy 44.1mpg CO2 149g/km Insurance group 9




What the testers thought...
I drove a Yeti 4x4 through the forests of Slovenia last year and it was cracking off-road. Even so, the front-wheel-drive 1.2 TSI gives you all the style with lower running costs. Ivan.Aistrop@whatcar.com

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Best buy £15,000–£20,000
Peugeot 3008 1.6 THP 150 Sport
List price £18,399
Target Price £17,504

The customer is always right, so when buyers choose front wheel-drive versions of SUVs by a ratio of nine to one over four-wheel-drive models, car manufacturers take note and cars such as the Peugeot 3008 are born.

At heart, the 3008 is a practical family car that blends the best bits of hatchback, MPV and SUV into one desirable package. If the exterior doesn’t grab you instantly, you’ll be won over the moment you open the door.With its smart design, top-quality materials and commanding driving position, the 3008 makes you feel a bit special.

Things are just as good when you turn the key, because the Peugeot is enjoyable to drive and impressively refined. Everyone gets a good deal, too – the smooth ride is just what you want in a family car, while the generous space, raised seating position and flat floor help to make things comfortable on board. A large, versatile boot, brilliant engine and competitive pricing add to the 3008’s considerable appeal.

It’ll be interesting to see how the updated Nissan Qashqai compares with the 3008 when it goes on sale in March. It helped to create the whole crossover trend and could give Peugeot a bloody nose. If you want something a touch more rugged, Hyundai’s new ix35 is also worth a look.

Peugeot 3008 performance
0-62mph 8.9 seconds Top speed 125mph
Running costs
Economy 38.2mpg CO2 176g/km Insurance group 20




What the testers thought...
Finally, a compact Peugeot we feel comfortable recommending to families. It looks like a 4x4, but has none of the drawbacks. It’s roomy, comfy and affordable. Alex.JennerFust@whatcar.com

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Best buy more than £20,000
Volvo XC60 2.4D DRIVe SE
List price £27,479
Target Price £25,362

this year, we’ve gone for the new DRIVe version of the Volvo XC60 – and it reflects how both the car and the market itself have changed.

Although it uses a version of the same 2.4-litre diesel engine that we favoured in the XC60 last year, the DRIVe model has front rather than four-wheel drive.

Tweaks to the gearing and engine management eke the most out of every drop of fuel, resulting in an average of 47.1mpg and CO2 emissions of just 159g/km.

Lower running costs and a lower price make the XC60 a more appealing family car than ever. The interior is roomy and practical, but it’s also big on comfort, and there aren’t many more stylish cabins to be found this side of £30,000.

As well as a smooth ride, fine handling and top-notch refinement, the XC60 benefits from Volvo’s City Safe system, which is fitted as standard. It detects obstacles and, at low speeds, brakes if you don’t react to avoid an accident, cutting the risk of potential collisions.

Although it’s not cheap, the Xc60 is a classy and desirable car that’s perfectly in tune with what buyers are looking for. If you can’t stretch to the XC60, the Volkswagen Tiguan is a great alternative, with a swish interior, sharp handling and the undeniable allure of a VW badge.

Volvo XC60 performance
0-62mph 9.8 seconds Top speed 130mph
Running costs
Economy 47.1mpg CO2 159g/km Insurance group 28




What the testers thought...
When a pal was looking to buy an SUV a few months back, I recommended the XC60. I knew his family would appreciate the space, practicality and comfort. Steven.Huntingford@whatcar.com

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What Car? Car of the Year awards 2010 - Crossover winner

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