Skoda Roomster review
The Skoda Roomster has a spacious, versatile cabin, but a supermini driving experience
The Skoda Roomster is a small family car with an added dash of practicality. The looks won't be to all tastes - from the side it looks like a supermini and a van have been mashed together - but the boxy rear end and high roofline allows for a spacious cabin and large boot. Small capacity engines keep running costs extremely low, while the Skoda Fabia chassis menas that it handles well and feels solid.
Our choice: 1.2 TSI 105 SE
The Skoda Roomster's styling is certainly contentious. The strangest design quirk is the difference between the front and rear windows; the front echoes a jet cockpit, while the rear is more conventional MPV. Unfortunately, the proportions don't quite work - the end result is more that of a van-based car. Bright colours and a selection of stylish alloy wheels do help matters though. The Roomster's interior won't win any style awards, but it is incredibly functional and the materials are of a high quality.
The entry-level petrol engine is the 1.2-litre with 69bhp. It may be a tempting option because it's so cheap, but it's also incredibly slow and only really suitable for use around town. The turbocharged 1.2 with 104bhp is the pick of the bunch, offering smooth and punchy motoring and better fuel economy than the non-turbo 1.2. The diesel options can be loud and rattly but offer fantastic economy. The ride is comfortable enough and the Roomster handles very predictably and safely with plenty of grip.
The Roomster comes with six airbags as standard on top of ABS and ESP systems to help prevent accidents in the first place. Euro NCAP awarded it a maximum of five stars for crash safety. Skoda has often topped the annual Auto Express Driver Power table for customer satisfaction, showing that all its models have impressive reliability and a good service network if anything does go wrong.
Access to the boot is excellent, and the luggage area is a very useful 450 litres with the seats up. Stowing the chairs frees up a maximum capacity that's more than triple this figure, and doing so is a very simple process, thanks to the clever VarioFlex system. This sees the seats fold with one handle and tumble with the other. The two outer rear chairs slide and recline as well. We'd recommend you go for SE trim, because this includes extras like air-conditioning and electric rear windows that you dont get on entry-level S models. An optional panoramic glass roof helps to create an additional sense of space in the cabin.
Small capacity, low-powered engines mean that the Roomster will not only be cheap to insure but it will be cheap to fuel and tax too. A three-cylinder 1.2 TDI is cheapest but it's not particularly refined. If you can live with it the rewards come at the pumps, with a combined economy figure of 76.3mpg. The 1.2 TSI petrol engine in 104bhp guise manages 49.6mpg.