Skoda Roomster MPV (2006 – ) expert review
Read the Skoda Roomster MPV (2006 - ) car review by Auto Trader's motoring experts, covering price, specification, running costs, practicality, safety and how it drives.
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The Skoda Roomster is a true Marmite car – receiving either a strong positive or negative reception from passers by. It’s pretty much identical to the Fabia Hatch from the front, but the heightened, bulky rear end differentiates it from the hatch and makes it much more practical. It looks very different and stands out from the crowd, but to our eye, the lines are too bulbous to be handsome. Scout versions get rugged-looking plastic cladding around the lower parts of the body.
You sit quite high in the Roomster and the big, flat rear screen means that visibility is good. It’s not the same from the front though, as the windscreen pillars are quite thick and obstruct your view. The seats and the steering wheel have lots of adjustment, so finding a decent driving position is easy enough. The cabin seems durable and solidly built, but, like the Fabia on which it’s based, the Roomster is very bland inside, with hard, scratchy plastics and no-frills design. That said, the simplicity of the dash does make the various controls easy to find and use.
The Roomster’s unconventional dimensions mean headroom is generous in any seat, and rear legroom is sufficient for a couple of tall adults, too. The rear bench is best for two people, though, because the middle seat is narrow and uncomfortable. The boot is very generous on capacity, and if those in the back sacrifice some kneeroom by sliding their seats forward, your cargo-carrying capability gets even bigger. Fold the seats down, or remove them altogether, and you get a huge, van-like space. Be warned, though, that the rear seats don’t go completely flat when you fold them, and they’re extremely heavy to lift out.
Ride and handling
The Roomster’s tall shape creates quite a bit of body roll through bends, especially on the Scout model with its raised ride height. That said, no Roomster is short of grip and the steering is quite accurate. The ride is generally comfortable in most situations, but things can get a wee bit bumpy on patched-up urban streets.
Avoid the basic 68bhp 1.2-litre engine, as it isn’t really powerful enough for the Roomster. The 85bhp 1.2-litre TSI engine performs much better – it has plenty of fizz from very low revs and propels the Roomster along at a surprisingly brisk rate. The 103bhp version of the same engine is stronger still, but no more flexible. The entry-level diesel, a 74bhp 1.2, is hampered by its tall, economy-minded gearing, so it requires plenty of shifting around on the gearbox to keep it on the boil. It’s also pretty noisy and transmits plenty of vibration through to the cabin. There’s also a pair of 1.6-litre diesel engines with either 89bhp or 103bhp, which are quieter and smoother, and feel nice and perky.
The Roomster is very competitively priced compared with rivals, and you should get a decent discount from your Skoda dealer. Resale values are pretty reasonable, too. The least powerful of the petrol engines is also the thirstiest, which is another reason to avoid it, but all the turbocharged ones get close to 50mpg. The 1.6 diesels both better 60mpg, while the Greenline II version gets closer to 70mpg.