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Used Skoda Roomster review

Quirky, practical and with very distinctive looks, the Skoda Roomster offers spacious versatility, economical motoring and a relaxing drive. It’s a5-door hatchback that doesn’t fit the motoring mainstream – and that will suit plenty of owners who don’t want to be seen driving around in another grey box.

Design

Yes, it has 4 doors and a tailgate. No, this is not your standard hatchback. The Skoda Roomster is designed to be as individual as its owners. The jarring lines tell everyone you’re more concerned with practicalities than fashion. Skoda has used the high roof line to maximise the space inside. Those chunky looks inspire owners to use it for all sorts of jobs and adventures.  

The Roomster’s large areas of glass create a light, pleasant atmosphere inside. A Scout version offers even more rugged styling and higher ground clearance - the trappings of an SUV without actually providing 4-wheel-drive. Bigger alloy wheels are fitted to some versions – they look cool but make for a slightly harsher ride. 

What's it like to drive?

It drives more like an ordinary hatchback than you’d expect. The Skoda’s handling is very neat and respectable, much like a supermini.  

All Roomsters are set up to soften bumps and smooth imperfections, so the ride is usually comfortable, even over potholes and tough tracks. On the tarmac, it feels more refined than its van-based rivals and more like a small people-carrier.  

The light and responsive controls, excellent visibility and airy cabin generally encourage a relaxed driving style. There’s a wide range of petrol and diesel engines to choose between. None provide GTI thrills but all can offer impressive economy. 

All Roomsters are set up to soften bumps and smooth imperfections, so the ride is usually comfortable.

Interior

The spacious and adaptable interior is the USP of the Roomster – I mean, what else would you expect with a name like that. Those big windows make it seem much larger inside than it looks on the outside. The optional panoramic glass sunroof increases this airy sensation. Passengers get tons of head and legroom in the front and back. 

Seats are cleverly designed to be versatile. Each of the rear seats can recline, fold and slide, or even be individually removed. Take the middle seat out and you can slide the outer 2 inwards for extra shoulder room. Crucially, the seats are easy to move and light enough for you to carry. In fact, most seat operations can be done with a single hand – great if you’ve got a wailing baby on one arm.  

The quality of the interior isn’t bad either. The Roomster deliberately maintains a rather spartan and practical image. Yet, the materials are as good as you’d expect from the VW Group. Everything feels durable and well bolted together.  

It’s more car-like than many rivals. You get comfortable cloth seats and electric front windows, and most versions get air-con and remote central locking. Sports seats were an optional extra. A more useful option is electric rear windows. An added bonus comes at the back, where the tailgate is big and lifts high to make accessing the adaptable load space very easy.  

Practicality

With all that seating versatility it seems almost superfluous to mention the clever storage ideas around the cabin, including big door bins, under-seat storage and a pair of glove boxes (that’s 2 boxes, not a box for a pair of gloves).  

The Roomster is based on a car - not a van, like some rivals. This helps its safety ratings. The Roomster was awarded a strong rating by Euro NCAP safety watchdogs, thanks to things like standard anti-lock brakes, the high-strength steel body cage and 6 airbags in all models. A sophisticated anti-skid system is fitted to many models.  

Some even get a very useful on-board tyre-pressure monitor, or advanced technology like headlights that turn with the steering wheel. 

Reliability and running costs

Various petrol and diesel versions came and went during the Roomster’s time of sale between 2006 and 2015. None were particularly aimed towards performance – instead they were more geared towards relaxed driving and economy.  

The best offered official figures up to 65mpg, the thirstiest 36mpg. Tax and insurance should also be low. 

Is it reliable? Skoda has sometimes come top out of all car brands in owners’ reports, so major problems are unlikely. The Roomster itself has demonstrated a few issues over the years though, so look for well-serviced versions. If worried, you can get some reassurance with cinchCare. 

What cinch loves

The Skoda Roomster offers a unique level of practicality, and is as cheap, easy and fun to own as any normal supermini. The exterior looks divide opinion but offer individuality. The design also helps create a big, light interior space that’s not just extremely versatile but nice to travel in too. The distinctive 5-door hatchback is easy to drive, comfortable and frugal with fuel.

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Perfect for

Parents

Town and country drivers

Verdict

Good

The Skoda Roomster is great for practical, busy owners who need their car to do everything from short shopping trips to wild camping adventures. It has one of the most versatile interiors, but is as easy, cheap and fun to own as any5-door supermini.

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