Fleet News

Skoda Roomster3 1.9 TDI

Skoda

Review

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    In the celebrity-obsessed world we live in, where image is everything, it has been refreshing to spend some time in a car which puts function first – and does it well.

    Which is just as well really, because for a car to look as quirky as the Roomster, you hope – for Skoda’s sake – that it has the talent to get away with it.

    It looks like something out of Mary Shelley’s imagination, stitched together from parts from different vehicles, as Frankenstein’s monster was crafted out of different people’s body parts.

    The conventional car-like front end with its swooping windows quickly makes way for oversized rear door windows and a square back – completely at odds with the front half.

    If we were still in medieval times, then I’m sure mobs wielding pitchforks and torches would be gathering outside Skoda dealers.

    But if you can put any reservations about the looks of the Roomster – or Popemobile as it has become known among my friends – to one side, then the car makes a lot of sense.

    Firstly, the distinctive looks make it very easy to find in a packed car park, and the generous glass areas make the interior appear even more spacious than it is – which is no mean feat as there is plenty of room for four adults and any luggage they need.

    This was hammered home to me recently as a long trip to Hull saw me worried about how cramped my tall rear seat passenger would be, but he was full of praise about the amount of space he had.

    It’s a sentiment I would echo from the driver’s seat, although the swooping door windows restrict visibility when looking over your shoulder.

    The individually folding rear seats have been useful too on the occasions when I’ve needed to carry long, thin loads as well as rear seat passengers – something which just wouldn’t have been as easy to do in a more conventional hatchback.

    Unfortunately, things aren’t as rosy with the interior trim. The “cappuccino beige” colour seems a strange choice for a family utility vehicle, and it has proved to be the case as it is starting to get grubby through normal everyday use. A darker colour is definitely recommended.

    As a daily drive, it is hard to fault. The ride quality is excellent, with the suspension soaking up most of the bumps, and it impresses with its handling – which is far better than the Roomster’s looks suggest.

    The 105bhp 1.9-litre turbodiesel engine has been a willing performer, but the five-speed car is crying out for a sixth gear as the engine starts to get buzzy and intrusive at motorway speeds.

    But these are minor gripes in an otherwise impressive package.

    It just goes to show that the tired old proverb of beauty being skin deep is not true.

    Fact file

    Price: £14,070 (£14,420 as tested)
    Mileage: 7,202
    CO2 emissions (g/km): 139
    Company car tax bill (2007) 22% tax-payer: £47 per month
    Insurance group: 5E
    Combined mpg: 51.4
    Test mpg: 49.4
    CAP Monitor RV: £4,375/30%
    Contract hire rate: £313
    Expenditure to date: Nil
    Figures based on three years/60,000 miles

  • CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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