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Skoda Roomster Scout review (2012 onwards)
Model: Skoda Roomster Scout 1.6 TDI CR 90
Bodystyle: five-door mini-MPV
Engine: 1.6-litre turbodiesel, 90hp @ 4,200rpm, 169lb ft @ 1,500-2,500rpm
Transmission: five-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Price: £15,825 (£17,800 as tested)
Read more Skoda reviews
Buy a used Skoda Roomster on Auto Trader
Read our Skoda Roomster (2006 onwards) review
What is it?
The Skoda Roomster Scout is a curious beastie. As a Roomster it has the immediate appearance of one of those utilitarian van-based people carriers - and yet Skoda makes no such van for it to actually be based upon.
If it did, then this car might not look quite so much like it's been assembled from the spare parts of several different vehicles. Just look at the abruptly incohesive window lines front and rear, the curious profile, the enormous tailgate.
Taken as a whole, however, it somehow kind of works - the Roomster's got a kind of Fiat Multipla vibe, something that's so odd it becomes strangely attractive. The Scout badging brings further intrigue.
Where does it fit?
Scout is Skoda's pseudo-off-road range - a little bit like Audi's Allroad products, and the recently introduced Volkswagen Passat Alltrack. But on the Roomster, Scout means nothing more than some tough-looking body cladding and interior upholstery.
So no increase in its off-road prowess. In fact, with 16-inch alloy wheels and skinny rubber, if anything the opposite is true. There is no four-wheel drive here, just a modest 1.6-litre turbodiesel driving the front wheels in a conventional fashion.
Price-wise it's very near the top of the Roomster tree - but still a decidedly budget-oriented proposition. Much more so than the Skoda Yeti, for example, which seems pitched at a similar kind of 'lifestyle'. This is the functional with panache.
This is a car that says: we do stuff at the weekend
Is it for you?
Roomster Scout, then, offers the idea of a no-nonsense family transportation module that aims to suggest you haven't completely given up on having an interesting life. Perhaps it's not so much panache, as attitude.
With those extra bodywork bobbins and blinging, tuner-looking wheels, it's even attention-grabbing. This is a car that says: we do stuff at the weekend. Stuff that's so much fun we need a funny-looking van-type thing to pack it all into.
You'd presumably prefer to be spending the money on the stuff instead of the car, too. Rival van-like people carriers include the Fiat Qubo, Citroen Berlingo Multispace, Volkswagen Caddy Maxi. More conventional rivals might be the Vauxhall Meriva and the forthcoming Ford B-Max.
Buy a used Skoda Roomster on Auto Trader
What does it do well?
The reason you'd pick the Skoda over most of those is that it does a great job of balancing build quality against price. This feels like one tough bus - right through from the punchy engine to the kid-resistant fixtures and fittings.
Everything about this car is easy going. The big doors, low sills and sensible seat heights make it suitable for a wide range of passengers, and the way the rear door slide and fold make it very flexible. The boot lip is low to the ground, and the boot space is square and sensible, making loading a doddle.
Visibility is excellent, too, and there's nothing at all van-like about the driving experience. The steering is light but not to the point where it erases all feedback, so you can press on quite happily, confident in the Roomster's grip levels.
What doesn't it do well?
We say there's nothing van-like, but you might find the engine note a touch gruff. This isn't helped by the five-speed gearbox, which sometimes leaves you feeling a little short-changed - especially on the motorway.
But this is value-oriented vehicle, so the line needs to be drawn somewhere - and although the engine in our test car mustered just 90hp, there's a reasonable 169lb ft slug of torque. So it can keep the Roomster moving when it's loaded.
The big wheels don't do the ride quality any favours. It tends towards the fidgety as a result - occasionally jarring over bumps. And while we can't really fault the materials at this price, the interior doesn't exactly inspire you with its visual sophistication.
Skoda has predicted your every possible need or want
What's it like to live with?
The Roomster has, however, been very well thought out. The rear seats are even removable if needs be, and the load area with or without them can be enhanced by a range of accessories that suggests Skoda has predicted your every possible need or want.
The high roofline makes for a massive amount of space. But beware that big, top opening tailgate in car parks - it requires plenty of room to fully extend. Similarly, some rivals score extra points with their sliding rear doors, which are easier to manage with the kids compared to the Skoda's conventional items.
As MSN Cars' own Tom Evans discovered during his long-term test, the regular Roomster acquits itself well in almost every circumstance. The Roomster Scout is much the same, only with just that little added amount of exterior clout.
How green is it?
Our 90hp diesel test car claims 60.1mpg combined with 124g/km CO2. It isn't quite that abstemious in reality, but driven with a reasonable amount of sympathy you'll certainly go a good distance between top-ups.
The accompanying 13.3-second 0-62mph time doesn't exactly sound promising, but as long as you're happy to keep stirring the gearbox the little Skoda is happy to keep trying. The Scout is also available with a pair of 1.2-litre turbo petrol engines, and a more powerful 105hp version of the 1.6-litre diesel.
If you really want a green Roomster there's always the Greenline II version - which emits 109g/km. Unfortunately, it also produces just 75hp and costs over £16,000, making it the most expensive model in the range.
Would we buy it?
Functional, frugal and with an attempt at added style, the Skoda Roomster Scout makes a fine choice for a fun family holdall that's reasonably priced and easy to drive. Sound like the car for you? Then you're unlikely to be disappointed.
If you can stretch to the more powerful diesel engine you'll probably appreciate the extra oomph - but on the other hand we doubt you'll lose out too much if you opt for one of the cheaper petrol choices. Worth a thought, given the current cost of diesel at the pumps.
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