SKODAS. first MPV has been around longer than you might think, having made its debut in 2006.
With VW now behind the brand, awards have been flooding in over the last few years for many of Skoda’s models, and the company has high hopes that its MPV can join the award-winning ranks.
The company has’tried to produce a car which it says combines the best of an MPV; an estate and a family car. It scores on the luggage space department.
It’s a big, roomy car with a massive amount of headroom, pleny of legroom, too.
The three seats in the back move in a large amount of space and can be bent forward and folded down to get the maximum luggage space in the back. with the three rear seats down it’s a bit of a squeeze for the man in the middle, though.
There is a good amount of room in the back with the seats up, though, and with the maximum amount of room I could work out I fitted in two wooden pallets comfortably lengthways to take them to their final resting place, the dump.
Because of its quirky shape it’s not quite as wide as it appears, though, and it was a tight squeeze widthways.
From the outside the Roomster’s quirky appearance is always going to divide opinion. I couldn’t quite decide whether I liked it or not for much of my week in the driver’s seat, but if pushed I’d have to say I grew used to it.
Skoda say the Roomster is split into two different “rooms”, to “satisfy the different needs of the driver and the passenger” ,
This is all well and good but visually it does actually appear to be two separate cars morphed into one.
The front end shares that blunt¬nosed, deep Skoda corporate look, while the rear end seems to be made up mostly of windows. The windows are very different, too. The front ones are streamlined where as the rear windows are the more conventional square types.
Visibility is good because of this, but there are blindspots because of big pillars all around. There’s also a strange little plastic effort in the corner of the front window that is annoying.
Inside the cabin and things are more conventional. The cab is well put together and, although predominantly dark and unadventurous, looks classy. Everything is pretty soft to the touch, with quality materials throughout.
The dash falls in with Skoda, and indeed many of its VW siblings, and is crystal clear, with a simple black and white colour scheme and two simple-gauges.
But what really surprised me was the drive. The Roomster is available in a variety of engines, from a 1.2-litre petrol engine right through to the 1.9 turbo diesel I drove.
While the entry-level er,gines have received some flak from the critics for lack of power, the turbo-diesel handled itself incredibly well.
It was quick off the mark and acquitted itself admirably through all the gears.
Skoda say they want the MPV to handle like a normal car and it does just that.
But it’s equally at home eating up motorway miles. It’s a refined ride, too. Road noise and wind noise is kept to a mimimum although the engine is a little on the noisy side.
It’s a tall car, which means that there’s a bit of lean on corners, but.there’s excellent grip and the steering is right on the mark
the chunky steering wheel keeps you fully confident right tbIough corners. The six-speed manull gearbox was precise, too.
You always get value for money with any Skoda and the Roomster is no different. All models get a good selection of security measures and airbags.
Entry level Roomsters get electric front windows but, surprisingly, no remote door locking, while moving up a trim get air
con, electric rear windows and a massive panoramic sunroof, which floods the inside of the car with light.
My test car had a good quality, easy to use sound system, too.
With a lot of MPVs on the market, Skoda’s first effort will have its work cut out against more established rivals like Citroen and Renault.
But it has a lot going for it, especially when you consider that the range starts at just over £10,000.
It woUld pay to go for one of the bigger engines if you don’t want to be cursing a lack of power, expecially fully-laden, and I have no complaints about the 1.9 turbodiesel I drove, and fuel figures of more than 50mpg won’t do it any harm either.
It’s comfortable to drive as an everyday car, but with the added benefits of extra space for passengers and storeage.
I still can’t decide whether I like how it looks, and maybe never will.
Skoda Roomster SE 1.9 TDi
Engine: 1.9 diesel Transmission: Six-speed manual
Performance: 0-60; 11.5 secs
Top speed: 113mph
Fuel consumption: 53.5mpg