Skoda Roomster

The practical and spacious Skoda doesn't have the desirability of some it competitors, but great value and characterful turbocharged engine make it a real contender.

Eye-catching style doesn’t have to come at the expense of practicality – and the Roomster proves it. But like the Juke, the Skoda is an acquired taste, as it mixes radically different looks.

Black A-pillars give the illusion of a wraparound windscreen, but this dynamic appearance finishes abruptly at the B-pillars. The back end owes more to a budget MPV, with a tall roof, big windows and vertical tailgate. Scout trim adds plastic cladding, roof rails and tinted windows, which brings a dash of SUV to the mix.

The end result is that the Roomster has an incredibly spacious cabin. It is easily the most practical family car in our line-up, although the interior isn’t very exciting. We have no complaints about the build quality, but manual rear windows are at odds with the Scout’s status as the flagship of the Roomster range.

The feeling of space continues in the back. Three individual rear seats have reclining backrests, while the outer pair also slide back and forth to increase legroom or boot space. Load capacity is unlikely to be a problem, though, as the Skoda has a 480-litre boot – that’s nearly double the size of the Juke’s load area!

Remove the seats and space grows to 1,585 litres. There are clever touches, too, with a 12-volt power socket, a pair of bag hooks, some storage cubbies and a plastic load divider all included.

Under the bonnet is a small 1.2-litre petrol engine. However, the 104bhp unit has a turbo and a supercharger, so the Roomster isn’t left behind. It produces 175Nm of torque at 1,550rpm and is smooth and refined. Our car was fitted with the optional £710 DSG twin-clutch gearbox, but the combination isn’t a success. 

The transmission shifts smoothly on the move, but it’s hesitant from a standstill, so the Skoda is slow to react when exiting junctions. We’d opt for the manual instead, because the 1.2 TSI powerplant is an otherwise lively performer.

On the road, the Skoda’s tall body has an effect on the handling, but roll is well controlled and the suspension smooths out bumps. Overall, the Skoda has sharper responses than the Nissan. In manual guise, the Roomster is priced at £14,540, which is £745 more than the Juke. But emissions of 134g/km are competitive, as is combined economy of 49.6mpg. 

The Roomster lacks some style in this company – does its practicality offer enough compensation for it to come out on top?

Details

Chart position: 3WHY: The Roomster scores for practicality with a massive boot, flexible seating and spacious cabin.

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