"Practical, well priced and cheap to run, the Skoda Roomster is a sensible choice for growing families."
Low costs and big practicality set the Skoda Roomster apart from rival small people carriers. It's affordable and cheap to run in any specification, and while the cabin doesn’t exhibit the flair of the exterior, it's functional, well built, spacious and practical. The quirky looking body won’t be to everyone's taste, but the Roomster is a sensible buy and meets the needs of those looking to transport more than your average amount of luggage on a regular basis without fear of breaking the bank.
There are two 1.2-litre petrol engines available, along with a 90bhp 1.6 TDI diesel. It's best to steer clear of the entry-level 1.2-litre model, as it struggles to get the Skoda moving, but the 1.2 TSI is more capable and not as expensive to run. The diesel is certainly the better bet, as it has more mid-range power, which is better suited to the Roomster's utilitarian nature. The steering is accurate and the car is comfortable over long journeys.
There's little in the way of wind and road noise, but the engines are quite loud – especially the diesels, which clatter a lot. The ride is comfortable, the seats are supportive and the rear seats offer lots of leg and headroom for even unusually proportioned adults.
The Skoda scored five Euro NCAP stars for adult occupants, four for child passengers and two for pedestrians, which is good. It also comes with six airbags and Isofix child seat mounting points, although electronic stability control is a £350 option on entry-level models. The Roomster didn’t appear in the 2010 Driver Power Reliability survey, but fellow Skodas have consistently performed well, and the company finished sixth out of 27 manufacturers in the 2010 JD Power Survey, which is impressive.
Practicality is the ace up the Roomster's sleeve, as it's easily one of the most spacious cars available at this price. Minimum boot space is 450 litres, which isn’t bad at all, but fold down the rear seats and there's an enormous 1,780 litres. The rear seats can also be removed completely, while the two outer seats can be moved closer to the middle to create more space for their occupants. Two gloveboxes and wide door pockets prove useful, while under-seat storage is also available.
Value for money
Low purchase prices make the Roomster an attractive prospect – few people carriers can offer as much space and practicality for as little outlay. The downside is that entry-level models aren’t particularly well equipped, but that's excusable at this price. You get electric front windows, a CD player, a height-adjustable driver's seat and a useful 12v socket in the boot in basic S models. The SE level adds alloy wheels, air-conditioning, an alarm and electric mirrors. Scout models get 4x4-style body mouldings, roof rails and a leather steering wheel. Skoda's resale values have improved in recent years, and the Roomster holds its price respectably in its class.
No Roomster is expensive to run, but the 1.2 TDI GreenLine II is the cheapest of the lot, with 67.3mpg fuel economy and emissions of 109g/km – so road tax is minimal. The 1.2 TSI petrol is a similarly inexpensive proposition to run, as it offers 49.6mpg and emissions of 134g/km. The entry-level 1.2 12v is actually the least efficient engine, with 45.6mpg and 143g/km, so you’re looking at £125 road tax a year. Insurance on a Roomster will be extremely cheap – it ranges from insurance groups five to 13.