Skoda puts room into Roomster

IAIN DOOLEY checks out Skoda's Roomster - a family hatch hybrid offering plent of space and flexibility for families on a budget.Engines - With Skoda very much part of the mighty Volkswagen Group, the Czech firm is never short of choice in the engine department.

IAIN DOOLEY checks out Skoda's Roomster - a family hatch hybrid offering plent of space and flexibility for families on a budget.

Engines - With Skoda very much part of the mighty Volkswagen Group, the Czech firm is never short of choice in the engine department. Given the Roomster's slight bias towards the affordable, utility end of the market, the modest selection of small capacity petrol and diesel motors is entirely appropriate. And being VW-sourced, the engines are quiet and frugal respectively.


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Exterior - Although Skoda's styling policy can easily be described as conservative, the Roomster attempts to be a little more extrovert. The off-kilter panel and window joins and the car's overall lofty stance make you sit up and take notice. The styling isn't accidental though, as access is made easier thanks to the car's oversize doors.

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Interior - In contrast with the car's outgoing exterior, the Roomster's cabin is very straightforward. Given that it's positioned as a car for active people, there's a refreshing down to earth feeling. Frills are absent and you just know that everything is capable of taking a knock or two. The Roomster's cabin is, well, roomy, and despite the widespread use of dark plastics, fit and finish is up there with the firm's more expensive Octavia.

Driving - Keen drivers will have to look elsewhere, but that's the same for any car in this class. With the bias heavily towards comfort ride comfort and ease of use, the Roomster can be regarded as competent, comfortable and undemanding. Heavy duty users will be impressed by the capabilities of the diesel option, while urban motorists will no doubt prefer the quieter petrol powered variants.

Ownership - With its spacious cabin, potentially low running costs and durable nature, the Roomster has the potential to be the family holdall. With a big boot and flexible rear seating, you have the choice of carrying people, belongings or a combination of both. Opt for a diesel engine and, on long journeys economy is excellent. And with its compact size, urban motoring and parking should be hassle-free.

What to look for - Being a car with the potential to attract an active family, be on the look out for the usual issues: parking dents, kerbed wheels, scratched or broken cabin trim, stained upholstery, boot load lip scratches. The Roomster is still a relatively new car, which makes it important to see a comprehensive service history before you buy. And don't forget the test drive.

Model history - 2006, Skoda launches its Roomster, a model seeking to bridge the gap between conventional hatchback and compact people carrier. Modest level of standard kit combined with durable interior and flexible seating arrangement to deliver a practical, affordable family holdall. Modest selection of proven petrol and diesel engines offered.

Reasons to buy - Practical, versatile, good value, well built, economical to run.

Reasons to beware - Sombre cabin ambience, some rivals are better to drive, big tailgate takes some effort to close.

Pick of the range - Roomster 1.6 16v 3/SE.

What to pay - 2006 56 �6,325; 2007 07 �7,050; 2007 57 �7,475; 2008 08 �8,575; 2008 58 �9,000; 2009 09 �10,050; 2009 59 �10,550. Figures relate to showroom prices for cars in A1 condition.

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