There’s a line in ’90s hit, Men in Black that is appropriate here. Z says to K, “Let’s put it on. The last suit you’ll ever wear.” We’re not suggesting the Skoda Roomster should be dressed in a suit and sent to battle aliens, though you could. To each their own and all that. No, we’re saying that the Roomster could quite easily be the last car you ever own. It’s practical, it’s not offensively dull to drive, it’s exciting to look at (whether you interpret that as a positive or negative is up to you) and thanks to its Germanic links, it’s fantastically reliable. And of course, it’s here, so it’s cheap.
This isn’t the first time we’ve gone all wibbly over a Skoda. It is, however, the first Skoda that’s made us seriously look at our wallets. We would have a Roomster without hesitation. And not just because we have kids. We just really like it. There’s something deeply enjoyable about owning a truly versatile vehicle, and the Roomster is definitely that, but how?
The Roomster is one of those rare cars that made it from concept to reality relatively unscathed, which was something of a shock when it his dealerships in 2006. We all thought it might have been dulled down a bit, but it wasn’t. The biggest changes were centered around the doors. The concept just had one rear sliding door on one side, like a UPS truck. The production car had conventional rear doors. Better in the long run we’re sure you’ll agree.
There were also a few dimension tweaks, but again, nothing drastic. Other than that, the car that was on display in Frankfurt in 2003 was pretty much the same one you could buy three years later. It was bold and exciting, words you didn’t really associate with Skoda at that point.
The Roomster was an important car, too. It marked the first time the pencil-wranglers at Skoda were allowed to pull away from parent company, Volkswagen. At least in terms of design and structure. Skoda was given carte blanche to create something new and uniquely Skoda. Okay, so it still had VAG (Volkswagen Audi Group) underpinnings, but even then, they were modified considerably. The chassis was a clever mish-mash of Audi’s A4 (PQ42) platform along with Skoda’s first generation Octavia and second generation Fabia.
There’s nothing wrong with a bit of parts bin raiding. What you’ve got there are three cars that were all good to drive. Weld them together to from the Roomster chassis, and you’re going to be left with a MPV-esque vehile that has none of the stereotypical driving traits. What we’re saying is that the Roomster isn’t just about tip runs and getting the ‘big shop’. It’s actually a joy to drive, too. Well done Skoda.
The name Roomster is, according to some, an amalgamation of ‘room’ and ‘roadster’. The logic here is that the rear of the car has the room, and lots of it. While the front is the roadster bit. We can sort of see the train of though there. It’s the mullet equation isn’t it? You know, business up front, party at the back. At least that’s how our dad justified his mullet.
Hairstyles aside, the innards of the Roomster are incredibly clever. The front seat occupants are seated a bit lower than those on the rear. In fact, from the B-pillars forward, the Roomster is totally focused on the driver. The cabin gives no clue, as you look forward, to what is behind. It means you’re not put in some silly, high driving position ‘because MPV’. This is the ‘roadster’ bit – Skoda wants you to enjoy driving the Roomster, and its method of doing so is spot on.
In the back, the design language is ‘cinema effect’. This means halfway through your journey, the curtain drops and you can get an ice cream and have a quick wee. It also means the rear passengers sit higher. However, the side windows have a lower sill, meaning bigger windows and a sense of more space. Clever. As are the rear seats themselves, which fold down 40/20/40. Or just yank them out completely for the ultimate dogging experience.
As for propulsion, the Roomster had plenty of options, with four petrol engines ranging from a 1.2 three-pot through to a 1.6 inline-four and four oil burners. Again, the diesel engines could be had in three-cylinder form via the 1.2 and 1.4, while the 1.6 and 1.9 were conventional four-cylinder engines. The 1.4 and 1.9, however, utilised VW’s clever Pumpe Duse system, resulting in better economy.
The Roomster is a belting bit of kit, and the marketplace is awash with sub £2,000 examples. We even found one with 49k on the clock – it’s not even broken in yet!
One final thing to address is that little video posted just above. You see, care of a very clever company called SwissRoomBox, you can turn your Roomster into the ultimate adventure vehicle, too. Further drilling home the fact that the Roomster is all things to all men. You buy one of these, and honestly, you’ll never need another car.
Plus, the Roomster should be celebrated. This, and the Yeti after it, were fun, exciting, break from the norm cars. Skoda was having fun and we liked it. Sadly though, it’s towing the company line now, with generic entries into the MPV/SUV market. Gone is the fun and silliness. Buy a Roomster, capture that fun. You’ll thanks us, we promise.