The Skoda Roomster is shorter and narrower than a Ford Focus, but offers around 100 litres more boot space than that of a Volkswagen Golf. It's great for families who want more space, but not a bigger car. It's been on sale since 2005, so there are plenty of used examples on the UK's forecourts.
It has two full-size seats in the back, with a slimmer one in the middle. All three can be reclined, folded forward or removed completely to create impressive load-lugging capacity.
Removing the middle seat also creates more shoulder-room for those in the back. The boot is also a good size at 450 litres and a practical shape.
The Skoda Roomster is decent enough to drive, with light steering and a tight turning circle making it ideal for busy urban streets. The ride can be a little wallowy on faster roads, but it absorbs bumps well, and the body doesn't lean excessively through corners. Wind and road noise are kept in check most of the time, but become more of a problem at higher speeds.
Skoda has worked hard to build a reputation for quality, and the Roomster feels worthy of that standing. The durable-feeling cabin should cope well with heavy family use.
Three petrol engines are available. The entry-level 68bhp 1.2-litre is too small for this type of car, while our favourite is the 85bhp 1.4. The 105bhp 1.6-litre petrol is quicker, but it's more expensive to run and rare on the used market.
The diesel options are a 1.4 with either 69bhp or 79bhp, and a 103bhp 1.9.
The 1.2-litre petrol has claimed average economy of 42.2mpg, the 1.4-litre manages 41.5mpg and the 1.6-litre averages 40.4mpg. The 69bhp 1.4 diesel does 53.3mpg, the 79bhp 55.4mpg, while the 1.9 averages 53.3mpg.
Originally, Roomster trims were designated 1, 2, 3 and Scout, but in early 2009 the range was reduced to S, SE and Scout.
All Roomsters come with front electric windows, a CD player and MP3 connectivity, but wed go for a 2 or S car, because these add alloys and air-con, while 3 or SE trim brings cruise control and parking sensors.
Scout models come with a different bodykit making it look like a mild off-roader and similar equipment levels to SE cars.
In terms of things to watch out for, leaky sunroofs have been reported, but this applies only to early models. Gearbox problems have also been reported, along with complaints about noisy air-con systems but this seems to be a characteristic of the system rather than a fault.
Also, make sure the Roomster youre viewing has been maintained properly, and that the cambelt change has been carried out every four years/60,000 miles (except on the 1.2-litre engine, which doesn't use a belt).
There has been only one recall for the Roomster to date, concerning a problem with the curtain airbags. Make sure the work has been completed by a Skoda dealer.
We found these on the forecourt:
Skoda Roomster 1.4 2
'07/57, 39,000 miles, 4995
Skoda Roomster 1.9 TDI PD Scout
'07/57, 40,000 miles, 6950
South Hereford Garages