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Skoda Roomster 2007 Review

With its oversized rear windows, bread van rear end, high stance and mini wheels on a gawky body it certainly won't win any design awards.

It really is the epitome of a car designed by committee.

Yet, it works.

It features a very clever interior with removable and multi-adjustable rear seats that allow more than 100 variations of seating and cargo carrying.

Those huge rear windows, together with the optional full-length glass roof also make rear passengers feel as if they are in a much bigger car. Dare we say it, but they feel like they are in a 'room-ster.'

Add to that the practicality of safety features such as standard stability control, a five-star crash rating which includes pedestrian safety that meets 2010 European standards, plus six airbags and you have a truly functional and practical car.

Prices start at $26,990 for the 1.6-litre petrol five-speed manual model, adding $2300 for the six-speed auto, and $28,990 for the 1.9-litre diesel five-speed manual.

Volkswagen Group Australia managing director Jutta Dierks says it has no competitor in the market except for the Renault Scenic ($35,990-$37,990).

But what about VW's own Caddy Life? It has similar practical seating and cargo arrangements, a similar gawky look and a price range of $27,990 to $34,990.

The Roomster is designed off the Skoda Fabia light car's front end and bigger brother Octavia's rear.

However, it has a slightly stretched floor plan surprisingly giving it a 150mm longer wheelbase than the Octavia.

Standard features include climate air control, cruise control, remote central locking, power windows, 15-inch alloys, leather three-stroke steering wheel, eight-speaker CD sound system with MP3 compatibility and multi-function trip computer.

Options are parking sensors, roof rails, sat nav and a panoramic glass roof that runs the entire length of the cabin.

Queenslanders might look sceptically at that glass roof, but Skoda assures it deflects more than 80 per cent of heat compared with 6-8 per cent for normal glass.

They also claims it allows in only 0.03 per cent of harmful sunburning UV rays, compared with 68 per cent for ordinary glass.

Powering the Roomster are a choice of two engines.

There is a very anaemic 1.6-litre petrol engine with 77kW of power and 153Nm of torque. It howls when revved and labours on the smallest of hills.

Skoda claims fuel economy of 7 litres per 100km for the manual and 7.7 for the auto.

The better option is the frugal 1.9-litre Golf TDI engine with the same power, but 240Nm of torque right where you need it most; in the midrange.

These units are married to a five-speed manual or six-speed automatic with Tiptronic clutchless changing and front-wheel drive.

The manual feels a little vague and rubbery, while the auto is a slick unit. Not as good as the direct shift gearbox, but with enough gears and the right ratios to keep the 1.6 petrol engine humming in its narrow power and torque band. Economy is claimed to be 5.3L/100km

What will sell this vehicle is its flexible seating system.

Known as Varioflex, it features three separate seats in the back which are tilt adjustable and will slide forward and back. Even way forward and with the front seats way back, there is stacks of legroom in the rear.

The centre seat is narrow and really only for children. But the trick is that they can be folded all the way forward or taken out completely. They can also be rearranged in any order you like. Skoda claims there are more than 100 seating variations available.

With the seats in place and fully slid and tilted back, there is still 450 litres of very usable space in the flat-bottomed and fully carpeted cargo area with a full-size spare wheel underneath. Slide and tilt the seats forward and cargo space increases to 530 litres. Fold the seats up and you get 1555 litres of usable space. Take them out and it's an echo-inducing 1780 litres.

The cabin is airy thanks to the high stance and big windows with a typical austere VW trim and simplistic controls.

Seats are flat and offer little support and there is an armrest, but no centre console. However, there are plenty of storage areas around the cabin and a chilled glovebox for a bottle of water.

There is an MP3 headphone jack by the park brake, but nowhere to secure your iPod or MP3 player.

On the short launch drive from the Sydney airport, around the M5, M7 and cross-city tunnel to trendy Bronte Beach, the Roomster felt right at home.

Its high stance and wheel-at-each-corner design make it handy in tight traffic situations.

The electro-hydraulic steering was a little vague and rubbery, not like we have come to expect from VW.

It coped well with the crash and bang of potholes, but did transmit a lot of noise through the cabin where it reverberated, especially at high engine revs.

The brake pedal felt spongy with little initial bite, but was effective if hammered home.

Thankfully there is a foot rest beside the pedals.


Skoda Roomster


Body: 5-door, 2-compartment, 5-seater

Engines: 1.6-litre petrol and 1.9L turbo diesel

Power: 77kW @ 5600rpm (1.6); 77kW @ 4000rpm (TDI)

Torque: 153 @ 3800rpm (1.6); 240 @ 1800 (TDI)

Transmission: 5-speed manual, 6-speed Tiptronic auto (1.6 only), front wheel drive

Suspension: McPherson with stabiliser (front), compound link crank-axle (rear)

Brakes: ventilated discs (front), solid (rear), ABS, ESP

Steering: direct rack and pinion with electrohydraulic power

Turning circle: 10.5m

Dimensions (MM): 4205 (L), 1684 (W), 1607 (H), 2617 (wheelbase), 140 (clearance)


Pricing guides

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Range and Specs

1.6 1.6L, PULP, 6 SP $4,700 – 7,590 2007 Skoda Roomster 2007 1.6 Pricing and Specs
1.9 TDI 1.9L, Diesel, 5 SP MAN $4,500 – 7,260 2007 Skoda Roomster 2007 1.9 TDI Pricing and Specs
Pricing Guide


Lowest price, based on third party pricing data

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