Skoda Roomster Scout review
It won't win any beauty contests, but the Skoda Roomster Scout is a rugged, practical and good-value family car
Introduced in 2006, the Skoda Roomster does exactly what it says on the tin – offer plenty of room for growing families and their luggage. This Scout version followed in 2007, but unlike the Scout variants of other Skoda models, it doesn't add four-wheel-drive to the mix. You just get some roof rails and chunky plastic bumpers for that 'urban safari' look. Apart from this, the Scout has all the advantages of the standard Roomster: lots of space, low running costs and useful Varioflex seating. As a family car with a difference, it's definitely worth a look.
Our choice: 1.2 TSI 105PS DSG
The Roomster's looks are best described as 'challenging', but some people will love its unpretentious functionality. The Scout's roof rails and plastic cladding make it look a bit more grown-up than the standard model, and it also gets stylish 16-inch alloy wheels plus tinted rear windows. The interior is just as fit for purpose as the exterior, so you won't find any great design flair in the cabin. About the best thing you can say about the Roomster's looks is that it's different – which counts for a lot when placed next to today's other increasingly homogenous family cars.
The basic 1.2-litre petrol engine is cheap, but a little breathless, especially with a full load. The more modern 1.2 TSI turbo is a better choice, offering a mix of peppy performance and excellent fuel economy in either 89PS or 105PS forms. A 1.6-litre diesel engine is also offered, with 90PS or 105PS power outputs, but only high-mileage drivers should consider it. The Roomster handles surprisingly well for such a high-roofed car, yet the trade-off for good body control and accurate steering is a pretty firm ride that won't be to everyone's taste. Engine noise can become irritating when you have to work it hard, however the Roomster is a quiet cruiser on the motorway.
Skoda is a consistent top performer in our Driver Power owner satisfaction surveys, and the company has an enviable reliability record. Although the Roomster Scout itself didn't appear in the 2012 edition of the survey, the Fabia supermini on which it's based placed 34th overall. The Scout gets six airbags and Isofix child-seat mounting points as standard, however electronic stability control is an optional extra on the more basic models. It also scored the maximum five stars in the Euro NCAP crash test, so it's a safe and reassuring option for the family.
Easily carrying lots of people and their luggage is the Roomster's reason for being, so it's no surprise to find it does very well here. The Skoda's trump card is its Varioflex seating system, which allows you to quickly and easily re-arrange the interior layout depending on how many passengers and how much luggage you need to carry. The cabin trim and dashboard are also very well built and should put up with plenty of wear and tear from active young families. There's lots of clever storage cubbies, too, which will prevent things getting too cluttered.
The 1.2 TDI GreenLine diesel is the efficiency star of the range, offering 67mpg and 109g/km CO2 emissions. But no Roomster is expensive to run: both the 1.2 petrol and 1.6 diesel engines offer excellent fuel economy and emissions figures, while insurance should be very affordable on any version, too. Some of the Roomster's key rivals, such as the Citroen Berlingo Multispace and Peugeot Partner Teepee, are more affordable to buy, but as they're based on commercial vehicles, they don't offer the same refinement.