Our long-term Skoda Roomster’s profile has had a boost in the shape of one of the world’s greatest sporting events.
The Tour de France is a global phenomenon, one of the world’s biggest international sporting events watched by hundreds of millions of people in more than 200 countries around the world.
As luck would have it, Skoda has been an official partner of the Tour de France since 2004, providing about 300 Skodas this year to follow the riders on their 2,200-mile, 20-stage race. This year, Roomsters are among the fleet, acting as people and cycle carriers. Although most eyes will be on the bikes, it is still an important statement about what the car is good at.
Its function-over-form design has raised eyebrows and even derision from some colleagues, but this is a clear example of why it works.
I have already pointed out how easily the seats can be removed. Just fold down the back rest, flip up the seat, flick two catches and the seat comes out.
A test in the office car park showed all three seats could be removed and reinstalled within three minutes. Despite this, they are comfortable on long journeys too.
So making space for a bicycle, fitted to Skoda’s internal bicycle rack (£189 but about £230 when fitted at Wings of Peterborough, after labour) would be simple. There is a roof-mounted system too, but there are two clear benefits to the boot option. Firstly, the bikes are safely in the car and, secondly, you don’t have to lug your transport on to the roof. All you do is take off the front wheel and attach the fork to the holder.
The practical space for cyclists hasn’t just caught my eye. It also persuaded John Knight, health and safety manager with Sue Ryder Care, to opt for a Roomster 8,500 trouble-free miles ago.
When I chatted to him recently about his decision, he said: “I chose it for the load flexibility, particularly the capacity to carry bikes. The seats are very easy to take out and then it takes camping gear and bikes. Even with the seats in, it just eats up everything.”
He says the functional element was more important than the aesthetics in his choice and, once you get inside, everyone is impressed.
He added: “It is also a much better handling car than the shape implies. I would consider another one in the future and absolutely another Skoda. What I choose will depend on my lifestyle.”
This flexibility is winning friends in the showrooms too, it seems. To the end of June, Skoda sold 2,254 Roomsters. Nearly half of them went to fleets, which accounts for more than 11% of Skoda’s fleet sales.
Price (OTR): £14,070 (£14,420 as tested)
CO2 emissions: 139
Company car tax bill (2007) 22% tax-payer: £47 per month
Insurance group: 5
Combined mpg: 51.4
Test mpg: 46.7
CAP Monitor RV: £4,375/30%
Contract hire rate: £313
Expenditure to date: £230 (bike rack)
Figures based on three years/60,000 miles