The entry-level engine is a 69bhp 1.2-litre petrol, but this struggles to haul the Roomster around. You’ll be better off with one of the turbocharged 1.2-litre petrols. We haven’t driven all of them yet, but the most powerful 1.2 TSI 105 has enough punch for everyday demands. There are also two 1.6 turbodiesels, with even the weaker 89bhp unit providing adequate pace.
The Roomster's ride is fine at speed, but it's a little fidgety around town. There's also a fair amount of body lean through bends. However, there's plenty of grip and the steering is accurate, if a little slow to respond. Scout models, with extra ground clearance, feel firmer and more top-heavy.
Wind- and road noise are well contained, while the engine noise is just about acceptable. The 1.2 TSIs are fairly muted, but the diesels make a bit of a racket and you can feel a bit of rattle through the pedals. Manual Roomsters have a rather agricultural gearshift, too.
Prices for the Roomster place it in competition with versatile supermini-based MPVs such as the Renault Modus, but in terms of interior space and boot capacity it compares well with bigger cars such as the Renault Scenic compact-MPV. Big discounts and affordable running costs add to its appeal, with the Greenline II model averaging more than 67mpg and emitting less than 110g/km CO2.
The interior design may not be as adventurous as the exterior's, but it looks solid and feels durable. Most of the components have been proven in other VW Group cars, and although the Roomster didn't do especially well overall in the 2010 JD Power customer satisfaction survey, some of its highest scores came for its mechanical reliability.
Every Roomster comes with front, side and curtain airbags, as well as ISOFIX child seat mountings. However, an uprated stability control system costs extra on all models. Deadlocks, an immobiliser and a visible vehicle identification number make life harder for thieves.
Finding a comfortable driving position is easy, thanks to a two-way adjustable steering wheel and a seat that can be cranked up and down. The dashboard is logically laid out, too, but forward visibility could be better. The windscreen pillars are surprisingly thick, and you can't easily see where its nose ends, so parking can be tricky.
There are three individual seats in the rear, but the middle one is uncomfortably narrow. All three can be reclined, folded or removed, although the outer seats are quite heavy. Alternatively, with just the centre seat taken out, the other two can be moved inward to give more shoulder-room, and they also slide back and forth so you can choose the balance between legroom and luggage space.
Entry-level Roomsters have electric front windows, a CD player and a socket for your MP3 player, but no remote door locking. That comes on SE models, along with air-conditioning, electric rear windows, parking sensors and a panoramic sunroof, while SE Plus models also have 15-inch alloy wheels, roof rails and climate control. Scout versions have 4x4-effect body mouldings and a leather steering wheel.
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