‘SCOUT’S HONOUR?’ – Skoda Roomster Scout Range Independent New Review (Ref:870/1184)

3 Aug 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on ‘SCOUT’S HONOUR?’ – Skoda Roomster Scout Range Independent New Review (Ref:870/1184)

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lsquo;SCOUT’S HONOUR?’

Car and Driving ‘s Independent New Review of the Skoda Roomster Scout Range .

Ten Second Review

Although it looks as if it should be all-wheel drive, it may come as a slight disappointment to learn that the Skoda#8217;s Roomster Scout shares the same underpinnings as ordinary front-wheel Roomster models. If you can handle this subterfuge, you#8217;ll find a lot to like. Well built, rugged and fun to drive, the Scout racks up the credit points.

Background

The collection of van-based MPVs that are out there – think Citroen Berlingo Multispace, Fiat Doblo or Renault Kangoo – have enjoyed high levels of success thanks to their generous interior space, competitive pricing and general simplicity. However, they#8217;re all ultimately scuppered by their rough #8216;n#8217; ready commercial vehicle origins.

In the Roomster, Skoda has a vehicle that displays the key advantages of a van-based model but without the drawbacks of harsh ride, poor refinement and an industrial interior. The latest Scout model extends that #8216;lifestyle#8217; element a little further.

Van-based MPVs haven#8217;t been around too long but their evolution has been rapid. The first examples appeared back in the late 1990s when some bright spark caught sight of an ordinary small van and noticed that its spacious load bay, robust construction and affordable price would make it a decent foundation for a no-nonsense people mover. This formula rapidly became popular and many manufacturers tried their hand with varying degrees of success.

Then Skoda came along and changed the rules. The Czech maker didn#8217;t have a small van to convert so, not wanting to be left out, they built the Roomster – the first van-based MPV-sector competitor that isn#8217;t, well, based on a van.

Driving Experience

Despite its 4×4-style looks, you won#8217;t have the benefit of all-wheel drive with the Roomster Scout. Still, it does feature a more imposing air given that its 14mm longer, 11mm wider and, most importantly, fully 43mm taller than a standard Roomster. It#8217;s available with four engines for buyers to choose from and these are equally split between petrol and diesel.

The petrol range opens with an 85bhp 1.2 TSI unit and also features a 105bhp 1.2 TSI variant which can be ordered with DSG semi-automatic transmission.

The diesels with their superior fuel economy are where a lot of the smart money will go but, as always, they#8217;re priced at a sizable premium, so make sure you#8217;re going to cover enough mileage to recoup this extra outlay at the pumps. Many will also prefer the more relaxed driving characteristics of the oil-burners, however, with the 90bhp 1.6-litre common rail option producing plenty of pulling power. The range-topping engine is the 1.6-litre TDI in 105bhp guise.

Despite the high roofline at the rear, all Roomsters resist body roll admirably and the general ride quality is far superior to van-based MPV rivals. It stays nice and quiet when you#8217;re on the move as well, with only limited wind and road noise finding its way inside.

Design and Build

The Scout is fairly easy to differentiate from the standard Roomster models due to that raised ride height and also the side body mouldings, roof rails and fog lights. Thankfully Skoda hasn#8217;t been tempted to really go overboard with the 4×4 styling cues which would have lent this car something of a bogus appeal, the Czech company staying just the right side of the line in this key regard.

There#8217;s quite a bit of space to stretch out in the Scout. The roofline steps up, allowing the rear seats to be mounted 46mm higher than those in the front: this boosts the space available to passengers. Leg and headroom are both extremely generous and there#8217;s a light, airy feel to the space thanks to the large windows.

An optional panoramic glass roof increases this effect with Skoda pointing out that children become bored more quickly if they don#8217;t have a good view of the scenery.

The rear seating has also been thoughtfully designed. All three sections of the rear bench are individually foldable and removable. They also recline as well as sliding fore and aft so that owners can choose either to maximise passenger legroom or to bump up capacity in the extremely generous boot behind. This boot is accessed through a large tailgate which lifts to reveal a capacity of 450 litres.

Then, depending on the position of the rear seats, owners have the option of increasing that cargo space right up to a truly van-like 1,780 litres – which is only achieved when all three seats are positioned in the garage at home.

Market and Model

Inside the Scout, there#8217;s special upholstery, branded floor mats, tinted glass, a tyre pressure monitor, electronic stability control and a leather three-spoke steering wheel and gearknob as well as an aluminium pedal set.

There#8217;s no doubt that, with its composed handling and clever interior, the Roomster Scout is a far more sophisticated proposition than your typical van-based MPV but it#8217;s priced accordingly. The basic price lifts it well clear of the usual van-based fare. All models look well-equipped, however, with air-conditioning, front, curtain and side airbags, body-coloured bumpers and an MP3-compatible CD stereo.

A Family View – Will It Suit Us?

Cost of Ownership

Naturally, you wouldn#8217;t expect a budget Skoda model to be that expensive to run and all of the engine options return good economy figures. Expect to see around 55mpg from the entry level petrol model with the diesels doing even better. Residual values aren#8217;t going to be as strong as the regular Roomster variant but there won#8217;t be too much in it. Insurance ratings are very reasonable with the Roomster Scout models falling into Groups 3 to 5.

As with all Skoda models, the Scout benefits from a decent three-year warranty arrangement from new and all engines are acceptably clean to boot. The diesels emit around 124g/km of carbon dioxide while the 1.2-litre TSI petrol features a 134g/km showing.

Summary

Although Skoda will do much to deny it, there is an element of lifestyle flim-flam to the Scout that#8217;s missing from the regular Roomster model. You#8217;ll pay around £1,000 extra for this. Whether or not you see it as a price worth paying is key in your appreciation of this particular model.

From a personal perspective, I think it#8217;s a great car that doesn#8217;t need the look-at-me addenda.

If the Scout was fitted with a four-wheel drive system, it would get a solid four or five star rating but as it stands, I#8217;m not so sure about this car. I#8217;d rather buy a normal Roomster and spend the grand on an adventure holiday. Living the lifestyle rather than pretending to seems infinitely preferable.

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