Is that really a Skoda?
It sure is. The Roomster is the standard bearer for a new range of design-led Skodas, which means next year's new Fabia will be far more interesting than the current model, and expect the Yeti softroader, out in 2008, to stay true to its concept. Under the skin, the Roomster uses a combination of Fabia and Octavia bits.
It looks like a two-car cut-and-shut job…
That's what Skoda intended – a low and rakish front hooked up to a chunky and spacious rear. The side windows at the front are like a slit in a visor, while those at the rear are deeper and wider so that children get a better view out.
I used to hire out deckchairs and love spending spare moments folding seats. Will I find happiness with the Roomster?
The VarioFlex seating system gives all sorts of configurations. The three individual raised rear seats all slide fore and aft, tilt and fold flat and are light enough to be removed easily. And with a wheelbase longer than the Octavia's there’s generous space in all directions.
And being a Skoda, it’s a decent drive?
Right. With taut body control, direct steering and a wonderfully absorbent ride, the Roomster is far more engaging to drive than you'd think. Turn-in is crisp, body roll minimal and high-speed stability excellent.
Backed up by the usual range of engines purloined from the VW parts bin?
There's a choice of three petrol engines: a 1.2-litre 70bhp, 1.4-litre 85bhp and a 105bhp 1.6-litre; and three turbodiesels: a 1.4 with 70bhp or 80bhp and a 1.9-litre with 105bhp. They all get slick five-speed manuals, with a six-speed Tiptronic auto 'box optional on the 1.6 petrol.
Does it hold on to traditional Skoda virtues?
Of course. It's very well made, with loads of equipment and affordably priced. There will be three trim levels – Skoda has ditched its Classic, Ambiente and Elegance names and opted for simple 1, 2 and 3. Prices range from £9920 for the 1.2 Roomster 1 and rise to £14,050 for the 1.9 TDI Roomster 3. So it sits above van-based Berlingo and Kangoo rivals but well below bespoke MPVs like the Scenic and C-Max.
You really like this oddity don't you?
Skoda has combined the idiosyncratic with the intelligent, the stylish with the functional. It's appealing, well thought out and very good to drive. So, yes I like it a lot.