Skoda Roomster Scout | Shed of the Week

Never underestimate the value of a Shed that looks like an actual shed

By Tony Middlehurst / Friday, March 5, 2021 / Loading comments

What's in a name? Skoda has had some doozies over the years, like the Rapid (which wasn't), the Favorit (ditto), the Yeti, which wasn't at all hairy, and the good but not superb Superb. Skoda made a beautiful little coupe in 1970 which really deserved a good name, so they called it the UVMV. Today, no new-breed Skodas are allowed out of the Skoda factory unless their names end in a Q.

In 2005 Skoda came up with 'Roomster' for their new five-door mini-MPV wotsit. It was probably meant to be a roadster joke, and would doubtless have been appreciated by Radio 2 DJs who are as old as Shed, who are somehow still jockin', and who even today think it is still cool to add 'ster' to the end of someone's name. Normal folk thought that practice was twee even in 2005, but despite that, or maybe because of it, the Roomster sold pretty well, finding around 300,000 buyers in a solid 11-year run. Off topic, having noted Skoda's success with the Roomster, Hyundai tried some 'ster'ing of their own with the Veloster, but that bombed spectacularly in the UK with fewer than 2,600 sold between 2011 and 2015.

Back to the Roomster. It was meant to be succeeded by a more conventional VW Caddy-based gen-two model in 2016, but that got lost in Skoda's shift away from MPVs and into SUVs. By all accounts – especially the cost-saving post-dieselgate ones – that looks to have been a smart decision.

What was the Roomster, though? Well, it was based on the Fabia and it was billed as a Leisure Activity Vehicle, or LAV. Some pundits did wonder if Skoda's stylists had spent too much time wandering round Bathstore or B&Q's toilet department as the look was challenging to say the least. Passengers enthroned in the back had a lovely view of the gently passing countryside thanks to the high-roofed, high-windowed 'Living Room' design, but the bod up front was hemmed into an Edwardian chauffeur's low-visibility 'Driving Room' environment by an oppressive cage of clashing metal shapes.

The Scout version you see here was trumpeted as a more rugged Roomster but that was visual rather than actual ruggedness because, unlike the Scout version of the Octavia which did sit high and which did have part-time AWD, the Roomster Scout had unchanged suspension and was front-wheel drive only. The high-riding look was an optical illusion cheaply achieved by combining plastic lower body cladding with new roof rails. Still, the Scout spec did include a leather steering wheel and gear knob, aluminium pedals, a set of alloys and 'special' Scout cloth seats. You also got the neat Roomster VarioFlex seat setup in which the three rear seats were foldable in a 40-20-40 split, reclinable by up to 7 degrees, and movable not just fore and aft but also side to side if you took out the middle seat.

Believe it or not the 1.9-litre oilburner was the joint-pokiest and arguably best engine option in the Roomster range. It was quieter than the more clattery 1.4-litre diesel. Admittedly, 103hp wasn't a lot even with only 1,260kg to push along, but you did get 177lb ft at 1,800rpm and an official combined fuel consumption figure of over 55mpg. Low-cost motoring, just how Shed likes it. The ride and handling were better than you might have expected, too.

This Roomster comes with a full 12 months MOT, the only advisory being some rust on the exhaust back box. Sixty quid gets you a new one. Thankfully it doesn't have the sunroof option as this is known to leak. Some Skoda owners have reported multiple electrical failures. Shed himself had six bulbs go all at once on his own Octavia only last week. It turned out to be oxidisation on one fuse terminal, fixed in under a minute with a mouse-sized scrap of sandpaper.

We're told that that our Roomster received a new cambelt at 45,000 miles, and that's not such good news because the car has done another 90,000 miles since then and 1.9 belts are meant to be changed every 60,000 miles/four years. Shed is convinced that many motorists believe they only have to replace a cambelt once, irrespective of mileage, or they get mixed up and think they only have to do it once every 60,000 years. Either way, Shed would want to be doing the belt swap on this one sooner rather than later as these old 1.9 diesels are worth preserving. The 'your belt has snapped' array of red lights came up on the dash of a Mk 4 Golf 1.9 Shed once owned. With the finely-honed reactions of a man well accustomed to dodging flying saucepans, he quickly switched off the ignition to minimise the repair bill, only to see the recovery driver restarting the engine in order to drive the blooming thing onto the transporter because he was too lazy to use his winch. That turned a small three-figure bill into a small four-figure one.

Classified ad phrases like 'trade sale only' are meant to protect the vendor in some way but they are also absolutely guaranteed to a) give any potential buyer the heebie-jeebies and b) generate a sticky wave of forum spittle, so make sure you've got a towel handy if you go on there. The legal implications of the engine falling out of a 'trade sale only' car on your way home from the dealership can be discussed on another forum. Here's one.

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