Written on: 30/12/2013 by eddiemarsden (19 reviews written)
Some time ago I wrote a review for the Roomster in which I stated that I was pretty impressed but the look of it left much to be desired. I concluded by saying that I could probably live with its look because it was overshadowed by all its good points.
So, it was time for a new car and I really wanted to stay with the Octavia, having already had two. Price did not allow and a Roomster was in the offing at an acceptable price. I jumped in and bought it, firmly convinced that I could live with the exterior design. How wrong I was. And here is my updated review.
From a test drive you get the feel of a car, how it drives and how comfortable it is. The Roomster drives reasonably well and it’s nippy although it’s not great on cornering and comfort could be improved but it is acceptable. My previous Skodas have been reliable and I have no reason to doubt that this one will be any different. There’s plenty of space in the back with the seats down and more if they are removed, with volume being achieved through height rather than floor area. I'd rather have a greater floor area. The tailgate is large and opening it may be difficult in restricted space. I’m six feet tall and there’s a lot of space above my head which is a bit of a waste but I’m told that the height of this vehicle makes it popular with disabled people.
What a test drive does not reveal are the idiosyncrasies which make themselves apparent after some time of ownership. There is no shortage of these. We have two glove compartments which, because of their shape, are fairly useless and won’t accommodate the things which you may want them to accommodate, such as a small camera or a pair of binoculars which you need to keep out of sight. There’s a storage compartment under the passenger seat although it’s not very big but why oh why, isn’t there one under the driver’s seat?
It’s probably true that cabin storage in any car is not enough to accommodate those items which you want to store. This is certainly the case with the side storage at the back of the Roomster. These compartments are just not high enough and the sides aren’t deep enough to prevent some things from falling out. The position of the rear wheels doesn’t help but my Octavia had two side compartments behind the wheels into which a water container fitted perfectly and there was no chance of it falling over.
Skoda has incorporated their ‘Flexi-seat’ system in the rear. The rear seating is split into three and the seats are positioned on bars which means that they can be moved across the car, but only for a limited amount. While this sounds a great idea on paper, in practice you may find that you rarely use it unless you are carrying wide people in the back. These seats can be removed entirely by flipping a couple of levers. They are a bit heavy but this is a big plus. In addition, the two outside seats are on runners so that they can be repositioned in a forward/backward direction. Again this is very useful but why can’t the middle seat be moved? The fact that it can’t partly negates the idea of creating additional space by moving the seats forward. The middle seat has no head restraint and there is a considerable gap between the seats and the rear storage compartment. I am happy with this although the tinted windows restrict visibility. You can buy a cover for this gap as an extra though. Come ON!
The dashboard and interior make no pretence about being anything other than plastic, which is what they are. It looks cheap.
With the Roomster Skoda has split the car into a driving room and a living room. It’s true. Seat flexibility in the back helps with the idea of the living room (kids can have a party in there), and the sense of space in the back is increased with the incorporation of very large rear side windows. Good idea. But Skoda’s designers have completely overlooked the incorporation of these windows into the car’s aesthetics. And this is where for me it all falls apart.
From the front, the car looks fine. Aerodynamics have been improved by the shallow angle of the windscreen and this line projects back along the roof. From the side, it is a design disaster. The lines of the windows do not work at all: sharp corners are combined with curves and this gives the Roomster the appearance of two different vehicles being joined together. The unnecessary curve at the corner of the front side windows adds to the width of the door pillar which in turn restricts view.
‘Simply Clever’, runs Skoda’s tag-line. Really? This car is nowhere near as clever as it thinks it is and personally I find it an embarrassment. If the looks don’t bother you, the amount of space inside belies the external dimensions and fuel economy is very good.
I made a mistake. Mine’s for sale if anyone is interested.
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