The recently refreshed Skoda Roomster is a bit like the motoring equivalent of a loft conversion.
Its just a little longer than the Fabia supermini its based on, but that elevated roofline and big side windows makes the cabin feel much bigger and airier.
Whether there are two or three grown-ups in the back or two child seats theres plenty of space for all and the Varioflex seat system makes the Roomster more versatile than most family cars: the seats can fold, tumble forward, slide back and forth or be taken out altogether. The middle seat can also be removed and then the two remaining seats pushed inwards for a bit more elbowroom. Theres plenty of space for odds and ends too, while the 450-litre boot will easily swallow the entire contents of the kids toy cupboard.
Not just for kids
The grown ups will be happy, too. For starters, the interior now looks and feels better, with the dashboard in particular getting some nicer, soft-touch plastics.
The new engine line-up includes three 1.2 petrol engines and two 1.6 diesels, so the Roomster is now cheaper to run than before. You can also add a DSG automatic gearbox to the most powerful petrol.
We drove the 1.2 TSI 105 with the semi-automatic DSG box, and the 1.6 TDI 90 with manual change. Both have enough power to whizz the Roomster past slower cars or lorries, but the diesel is noisier than the petrol model and it vibrates a bit more, too. The DSG gearbox can be a bit slow to react, especially when youre pulling away, and the manual box is a bit clunky, but you can easily live with either.
Its the same with refinement: theres a rumble of road noise on rougher roads, and the door mirrors whip up a bit of wind noise, but you wont need to raise your voice too much to be heard over it.
What Car? says:
Cheap, cheerful MPV thats good family transport