Which is best to drive?

Our models need to be fun, while maximising efficiency

The days when frugal cars sacrificed performance, refinement and enjoyment are long gone. So the bar is set high for the Yeti GreenLine.
Given how impressed we’ve been by the standard versions of Skoda’s crossover, it’s no surprise the latest version to join the line-up is great to drive. Better still, the engineers have combined 
the model’s strong driving dynamics with decent eco-friendly credentials.
Energy recuperation, low-rolling-resistance tyres and stop-start are the most high-profile additions, while the suspension has been lowered by 20mm to help aerodynamic efficiency. However, this hasn’t altered the car’s high stance on the road or changed the way it handles. 
The ride is a fraction firmer over some surfaces, but the differences over the standard Yeti are minor. The well damped suspension deals with undulations and bumps without fuss, and despite its off-roader looks, body control is excellent. The steering shares the same linear, well weighted feel as the Golf, yet the Skoda seems lighter on its feet, even though it’s 44kg heavier.
Unsurprisingly, its smaller-capacity 1.6-litre diesel can’t rival the gutsy 2.0-litre TDI found in the hatchback.
At the test track, the Yeti took 12.2 seconds to sprint from 0-60mph – a full two seconds longer than the VW. 
It was also slower to respond in-gear, particularly from 50-70mph, where its long-ratio five-speed box and 70Nm torque deficit really blunted acceleration. 
Around town and on back roads, all our testers agreed the performance gap wasn’t as noticeable as expected – although there is no escaping the fact that the Golf’s 2.0-litre TDI is more refined than the smaller unit. 
The most muted engine in this test is the C-MAX’s TDCi. It also delivers its power more smoothly than either rival – yet this didn’t prevent it being outperformed by the Yeti at our test track. The refinement makes up for this, though, and when mixed with the impressive suppression of wind noise, it makes the Ford the top choice for long journeys. 
The composed ride at speed adds to the car’s executive class feel, while perfectly weighted steering, accurate handling and a slick gearshift make it a joy to drive. From behind the wheel it seems a bigger car than its rivals, but plentiful grip and keen responses mean it never feels outclassed. Only the stiff ride at low speeds spoils the C-MAX’s otherwise polished dynamic package. 
This is one department where the Golf shines. The terrific ride and handling balance makes it an accomplished all-rounder. 
And despite its performance advantage, it’s also the cleanest of our trio, emitting only 114g/km of CO2 – that’s 5g/km less than either rival. The icing on the cake is a fuel return of 43.8mpg, which means it’s the most frugal of our contenders. 

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