Auto Express • 5 May 2012
It won't win any beauty contests, but the Skoda Roomster Scout is a rugged, practical and good-value family car
Auto Express • 5 May 2012
The Skoda Roomster has a spacious, versatile cabin, but a supermini driving experience
Auto Express • 27 August 2010
Revised family wagon promises frugal flexibility and a fun drive. But does it deliver?
Auto Express • 26 August 2008
While the jury's still out on its looks, our practical Skoda puts the boot into car boot sale!
AA • 31 July 2007
A subsidiary of the Volkswagen group, Skoda's recent models have been designed with a heavy influence from the parent company. Consequently, models like the Fabia and Octavia for instance were closely comparible with their Polo and Passat counterparts. The Roomster though, is designed without any Volkswagen handholding during the design process and love it or hate it, it's not in any danger of being bagged as some sort of Vee Dub knock-off. Actually, we think Volkswagen could learn a lot from the Roomster's exciting linage. It's certainly fresh, and really quite cute. Think, part hatchback, part van and part Popemobile Given Skoda ownership is about opting for something other than the norm, the quirky Roomster fits the brand perfectly. At 4.2 metres long and just shy of 1.7 metres wide (excluding wing mirrors) the Roomster is the size of a Corolla hatch, but has head and legroom to spare. A plethora of cubbies, carry hooks and storage ideas cater to every conceivable load-carrying requirement. The rear compartment features a split-level parcel tray and even includes a flexible semi-circular partition, perfect for transporting potted plants. Sounds weird, but it's also ideal for anything from wine to barbeque bottles. Unique VarioFlex rear seating can be removed to offer a light commercial-like luggage capacity of 1780 litres. The VarioFlex idea is ingenious. Not only can it be easily lifted out (the individual seat weigh from 11kg - 16kg) but they can also be reconfigured so the centre position is removed and the two outside seats move inboard 110mm. This rearranges the traditional five-up seating to spacious captain's chair seating for four. The rear seats also slide forward and aft through 150mm. Is the Roomster nameplate making sense yet? There's plenty of German logic to the cockpit and the shared Volkswagen switchgear falls to hand precisely. Just in case they missed the funky exterior the younger, target demographic can identify with contemporary geometric patterning on the seat fabrics and the "Dance" level of audio specification, which plays MP3 CD's and offers i-pod connectivity as standard. Overhead, all models receive a panoramic glass roof to create an airy cabin while the massive glasshouse area delivers excellent visibility when driving, but strangely without feeling like you're in a fishbowl. The variants are available, all remarkably well-spec'd for the money Rear parking aids, 16-inch alloy wheels and low profile tyres, traction control, five-star NCAP safety, six airbags, climate air conditioning add to the Roomster's value for money equation. Starting at $29,990, you'll get a 1.6 litre petrol with five-speed manual gearbox. The engine is an older technology VW unit, lacking the later model FSI technology other Skoda's employ. It develops only 153Nm of torque @ 3800 rpm, so getting the most out of the engine requires high revs and regular downshifts for hilly bits. Add $3500 and you also pick up a six-speed tiptronic automatic, Electronic Stability Control (ESP) and tyre pressure monitors. The entry-level vehicle can also be upgraded with the safety features - it's well worth the small outlay. Topping the range is a 1.9 litre diesel. It develops 77kW of power - just like the petrol - but offers much stronger pull from low revs with 240Nm of torque @ 1800 rpm. So drivability is a vast improvement over the petrol, as is fuel economy. Like most small European diesels however, it's available as a manual only and takes the price to $35,990. Both the petrol and diesel power units pass Euro4 emission standards emitting 168 (190 1.6 tiptronic) and 146 grams of CO² per Km respectively. Despite the low profile rubber the Roomster's ride is compliant and more refined than several competitors in this segment, handling through a winding back road predictably isn't as sharp as a sportier hatchbacks, but accomplished nonetheless. The Roomster is a smart marriage of form and function, with an attractive price. A combination desperately needed at this end of the market and if initial European sales are any indicator, the funky five-door could be just what is needed to raise the brand's profile here too. Here's hoping Skoda is left to their own devices more often.