If you want to match the impressively low emissions of the Mazda, then the Skoda Yeti
GreenLine is well worth considering. It’s smaller than its rivals, but you don’t have to forgo 4x4-inspired styling. It has a pedigree, too, having been crowned Auto Express Car of the Year in 2010.
Inside, Skoda has made sure interior space is maximised. While the 416-litre boot is the smallest here, it has clever load securing rails and shopping bag hooks, while the rear seats tumble forward to increase capacity to 1,580 litres. They can also be removed entirely to create a van-like 1,760-litre space.
Lift the heavy seats back in, and the outer pair can be slid back and forth to increase passenger or boot space, while the seatbacks recline to improve comfort. However, it’s only with the seats back as far as possible that legroom comes close to the Mazda’s.
Climb into the driver’s seat, and there’s more good news. Aside from slightly upright pedals, the driving position is excellent, and build quality is faultless. The Skoda’s dash design is straightforward and very easy to live with, while the soft-touch plastics, chrome door pulls and dual-zone climate control add some upmarket appeal.
Our range-topping Elegance model gets leather, heated seats and cruise control, but the touchscreen sat-nav
fitted to our car is a dear £1,510 option.
Under the bonnet, the 1.6-litre TDI engine matches the 60mpg-plus claimed economy and low emissions of the 2.2-litre Mazda, but then the smaller-capacity GreenLine only has 104bhp.
As a result, it was 3.8 seconds behind the CX-5 in the 0-60mph sprint, with a time of 12.2 seconds and, importantly, was sluggish through the gears. It took 4.1 seconds longer to do 30-50mph in fourth, in 8.6 seconds. Drop out of the power band, and the Skoda laboured before there was any response to the throttle.
Still, its power deficit means this lack of performance is to be expected, and while the 1.6-litre TDI isn’t the most refined diesel engine in the VW Group stable, overall it’s quieter than the Kia’s.
Like its rivals, the Skoda benefits from stop-start, but the car’s eco-optimised focus also means it has a 20mm lower ride height than standard models. This results in a stiffer ride. It isn’t unbearable, but the GreenLine is firm around town and can’t match the Mazda’s composure on faster roads.
However, the Yeti copes well through corners. Body control is excellent and the steering is direct and well weighted. There’s plenty of grip, and like the Mazda, the Skoda makes the Kia feel a little cumbersome by comparison.
Overall, this frugal, practical and rugged crossover is surprisingly enjoyable to drive. However, it demands performance and refinement compromises compared to the bigger cars in this test.
It’s also the most expensive of the three to service and has the worst residuals. Just bear in mind you’ll pay less to start with by choosing this crossover.
Chart position: 2WHY: The Yeti is our crossover champion, and in eco-friendly GreenLine guise it should rival the Mazda on low running costs.