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Skoda Roomster dying for some attention

And it wasn’t done any favours by offering unusual looks and no automatic transmission. But Skoda is not giving up on it just yet.

The little people mover has sold just 66 over the whole of 2008 and is lagging behind that sales level this year.

“The numbers speak for themselves,” Skoda Australia head Matthew Wiesner admits.

“We didn’t give it enough attention – probably through the fact that we had to focus on (medium-size passenger) Octavia to give us best cut-through and best return on investment.

“Quite frankly, Roomster has suffered a bit because of that.”

However Wiesner says that situation will change next year.

“There will be a facelift in the new year – and some drivetrain changes and updates — which means we will then give Roomster the focus it requires, and give it the space to be a far better contribution to what we’ve been doing.

Wiesner says that the Roomster has also been hampered by not having an automatic transmission.

“Having it in manual only doesn’t help in the Australian market. People want an auto.

“And it is a quirky design – you either love it or you don’t.

“Is there a market for it? Yes, but it’s a niche market definitely.

“But do you give up on it? No. Now that we’ve had a few focus groups, we now better understand who a Roomster owner is – and what they do and how.

“They are very different to an Octavia buyer. We now don’t assume they will pick up on us as a brand by what we’re doing with Octavia, so we’ll start to target them specifically.”

Wiesner says Skoda missed the mark in thinking there “might been some carryover between wagons, given what Roomster represents”.

“But there is quite a distance even between a wagon buyer and somebody interested in Roomster – but their intentions, their motivations and interests are very different.

“They are incredibly practical … we just need to be practical about how we talk to them.

And we haven’t done that well yet. No question.”