Despite all the millions car manufacturers spend on marketing their vehicles, in the end it is buyers who will decide how they are perceived.
This lesson has been reaffirmed several times over during my time with the Skoda Roomster. It is a roomy, good-value, well-built, efficient, quiet, comfortable, flexible, well-equipped and reliable form of transport.
It has coped with everything in the past month from hauling bootfuls of equipment to carrying a full complement of family. It works as a car for young families and the marketing supports this with images of young people, cyclists, sporty types and exotic locations in the advertisements.
But on a number of occasions, this balloon of marketing hope has been burst by a number of ill-informed comments from people who cannot see beyond the Roomster’s quirky looks.
And as room is the whole point of the Roomster, I have been putting the versatility of the VarioFlex seating system to the test.
With the rear seats fully back, it has provided roomy transport for children and adults and the reclining backs add to comfort levels. In fact, the rear seats spend most of their time in that position, as it still leaves plenty of boot space, enough to fit in bags and bulky items with ease.
Folding the seats forward adds to space available and it’s just a matter of pushing down a plastic hinge at the side of the seat.
Finally, you can fold up the seats entirely or even remove them, which has allowed me to carry everything from a step ladder to a bike (without the need for the optional bike rack). Lifting the seats out is trouble-free as they are relatively light.
During hundreds of miles of business journeys I’ve attempted to thrash down the fuel economy figure to see what some of your more heavy-footed drivers might achieve. The result was 41mpg, a huge drop on the 53mpg I have achieved by driving carefully.
Over 60,000 miles, that’s an extra £1,439 at current pump prices a high price to pay for driving badly.
Price: £14,070 (£14,420 as tested)
CO2 emissions (g/km): 139
Company car tax bill (2007) 22% tax-payer: £47 per month
Combined mpg: 51.4
Test mpg: 45.3
CAP Monitor RV: £4,375/30%
Contract hire rate: £313
Total expenditure: Nil