Skoda Roomster 2 1.9 TDI | CARkeys

19 May 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Skoda Roomster 2 1.9 TDI | CARkeys

Skoda Roomster

2 1.9 TDI review

I suppose the surprise will wear off eventually, but the Roomster still seems like a remarkable car for Skoda to build. Nothing the company has produced for many years led us to believe that this quirky compact MPV would appear on the scene, and no doubt it will attract quite a number of new customers to the Czech manufacturer.

The whole point of the Roomster is that it provides a lot of room within a fairly small package. There plenty of space for four adults, plus one much smaller person in the small central rear seat. As for luggage, Skoda is – I think, but I’m sure I would have remembered anyone else doing this – the only company to claim that one of its products can carry a small flock of sheep.

I can’t confirm this, not having had the nerve to ask any of the local farmers if I could borrow some of their sheep, but you can’t argue with figures of between 450 and 530 litres (with the rear seats upright and in a variety of positions) and 1780 litres (with the seats folded up and over to provide extra space for stuff).

It’s worth bearing in mind that these volumes are dependent on the Roomster’s considerable height. The load area isn’t particularly long, and I found that a keyboard which can normally be placed front-to-back even in hatchbacks one size up had to be placed diagonally in the Roomster. This is a car which is better suited to carrying tall objects than long ones.

Speaking of height, the last Roomster I drove (see road test ) felt a bit bouncy when I was pushing it on, but that car had the 1.4-litre petrol engine. The version tested here uses the 1.9-litre TDI turbo diesel, and for whatever reason it certainly handles more impressively, while remaining just as easy to drive in town.

The 1.9 TDI has other benefits too. Its power output of 105bhp is equal top in the range, along with that of the 1.6-litre petrol engine. On paper, the TDI is more economical – officially 53.3mpg combined, and easily capable of allowing more than 500 miles between refills – but with a slighty penalty in straightline performance.

I doubt that the penalty has much relevance in the real world. I haven’t driven the 1.6 yet, but there is just no way it can possibly be as effective as the TDI in the mid-range.

In fact, thanks to the relatively low weight of the car as a whole, the TDI can do good work from well under 2000rpm, which adds a good deal of relaxation to the driving process. Like cheaper diesel versions of the Fabia, the Roomster TDI is amazingly competent on a long journey.

It could, however, be better. The 1.4 petrol version suffers from a great deal of road noise, largely because the spacious body acts as a sound box. There’s a similar problem with the TDI, though this time it’s engine noise that reverberates around the cabin.

The effect isn’t pleasant when the diesel barks into life first thing in the morning, and it doesn’t improve much from then on.

Since we’re being critical now, this is the time to mention the dismal (but, sadly, not untypical in the motor industry these days) rear visibility caused by the immensely thick C pillars, and the curve in the front door windows which do a really splendid job of obstructing the view at junctions.

Practicality has been sacrificed here in favour of the design brief of making the Roomster look like a small hatchback at the front and an MPV at the rear; it may not be the worst example of style overcoming function, but it’s undoubtedly one of the silliest.

The test car was a Roomster 2 (or Roomster Level 2 as Skoda now seems to be calling it) which puts it in the middle of the range in terms of trim levels, 1 being the lowest and 3 being the highest.

This particular model costs £860 over and above the standard list price, which is accounted for partly by the multifunction steering wheel (£60) and metallic paint (£350).

The bulk of the difference comes from the adaptive lights, which I’m sure you’ll have worked out by now cost £450 and are well worth the expense. The headlights themselves change direction as you operate the steering, and in more extreme situations (such as a significantly sharp turn) the front foglight on the appropriate side of the car comes on as well.

Skoda is, of course, by no means the only manufacturer to offer this kind of thing, but I thought this particular system worked splendidly, and if I were going to buy a Roomster myself I would certainly tick that box in the options list.

If I were going to buy one myself. Well, personally I’m not in the market for a car like this. I can definitely see the appeal, though. The Roomster is a clever and effective little device, and there’s a lot to be said for it.

The high noise level is irritating and the visibility issue is just daft, and could so easily have been avoided, but in other ways the car is very appealing. And of the engines available, I can’t see past the 1.9 TDI in terms of providing the widest range of abilities.

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