- We like...Space for people and bags
- We don't...Blind spots, noisy engine
Oddball Czech has plenty going for it. But reversing from tight spots isn't what it's best atIt can be good to be different. When too many cars are now lookalikes, we’re happy to give the Roomster a head-start. It’s a car of two halves because the back looks so different to the front. But we’ll leave alone the jibe that it’s a car from a design team, who worked separately and never spoke. Skoda’s idea was to make the Roomster do as much as Renault’s Scenic or Citrn’s Picasso but cost thousands of pounds less.
Skoda has got there... well, sort of. You can get the cheapest Roomster for £10,000, but adding a diesel engine and mid-level trim as we’ve done brings the ticket price up to £13,000. That much cash also buys a Citrn Xsara Picasso (the old model) but is £500 short of even the cheapest Scenic. You might also scoop a Renault Kangoo or another Citrn, the Berlingo Multispace. Each costs less than the Roomster because they’re based on small vans. Trouble is, their rough edges show.
The Roomster has no such handicap but, because it’s smaller than the others we mention, it’s not the best if you need the most space. But there’s ample room for a family of five and their holiday bags. And Skoda has worked in touches you’d find in costlier rivals, such as rear seats that slide individually, tip forward, double roll or even lift out. Zip the seats back on their runners as far as they’ll go and six-footers can get comfy, while the boot remains pretty big. Headroom is never going to be a problem because the roof is so tall, even though the rear chairs are set above those in the front.
The dash and controls are from Skoda’s supermini, the Fabia, so they look sensible and tough, but not classy or stylish. Trim levels range from 1 (cheap) to 3 (plush), plus the Scout (outdoorsy and tough). Our mid-spec 2 gets a two-tone dash, air conditioning, a trip computer, alloy wheels and a good stereo/CD. A double glovebox for the passenger is a highlight and there are also door pockets all round. Out back, there are trays and hooks for shopping in the boot and a parcel shelf that can be shifted to midway down the boot and used as a divider. There’s also a basket-type thing, which clips to the boot sidewall to stop bottles or whatever from rolling.
It’s light and easy to drive and it rides serenely, though strong winds batter it when on the motorway. But the diesel engine is gruff and not at all nice to hear, nor ds it pull as hard as we’d like. However, the Roomster’s biggest problem shows when you select reverse gear. The two rear pillars cause blind spots, big enough to let you come a cropper.
The Roomster’s a Skoda you’ll really want, or else you’ll puzzle why it even exists. As yet, you rarely see ‘em on the roads, while the trade’s view is that they’ll lose value rapidly once second-hand. Proof if you ever needed it that while different may be good, it’s not always best.
- Engines1.9 TDi
- 0-60 mph12.0sec
- Insurance groupsgroup 5
Motors.co.uk value verdict: