Our man Alberto caught up with Volkswagen Group's Czech outpost, Škoda, which busied itself plying their funky new Roomster. As an econobox in a very literal sense, the Roomster combines a cubist's aesthetics with a frugal footprint in both spatial and ecological terms.
The five-door Roomster comes in a variety of configurations, and not just due to its standard-fit VarioFlex seating system. Unexpected options like 'sports packages' and leather seating are set to be offered.
On the drivetrain front, the Roomster will arrive in showrooms with a brace of engines - three gasoline and three diesel choices, from a 1.2L 12-valve gasoline three-banger (dispensing 64 bhp) all the way up to a 105-horse 1.9L TDI. Regardless of powerplant, the Roomster is a self-shifter, at least until September, when an automatic comes on line.
The Roomster will vie for market share against Citroen's Berlingo, Renault's Kangoo, and the Fiat Doblo. Perhaps the closest comparison for this little load luggers in the U.S. would be the Chrysler PT Cruiser and Chevrolet's HHR. While we obviously won't see this quirky Czech, the question begs-- is there a market for something like this in America?
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(Click through to the jump for a dozen more photos and Škoda's press release)
SPACE FOR THE ROOMSTER: WORLD PREMIERE IN GENEVA
The 76th Geneva Motor Show represents a milestone for Škoda in its more than 100 year-old tradition of car manufacturing. The Škoda Roomster takes to the stage and expands the model range of the Czech brand to include a sensational, completely independent fourth model.
However, it is not just the expansion of the range which is worthy of note, what really counts is the content. The Roomster occupies its new position in the Škoda family with great self-assurance thanks to exceptional use of space, a uniquely variable VarioFlex seating system, modern engines and generous equipment levels. To prove that the Roomster is a unique package, it has a longer wheelbase than the Octavia, yet its total length is shorter. A turning circle of 10.3 metres makes it ideal for town driving.
The Roomster combines extraordinary levels of interior space with compact dimensions. Therefore, it is being given a great deal of space at its world premiere. Six versions with different equipment can be seen on the stand in the Palexpo exhibition halls of the Geneva Motor Show. An exhibition area of 723 square metres is reserved solely for the new Roomster. The colour range – from the elegant black, through the new Cappuccino Beige to the radiant Ocean Blue – emphasises the fact that the Roomster is as elegant as it is contemporary.
More Škoda models are on display on the upper deck of the stand. The sporty Fabia and Octavia RS variants are on show alongside the rest of the ranges. The Octavia hatchbacks stand out thanks to their bold designs, while the Octavia Combi 4x4 with its four-wheel drive system is ready for anything winter cares to throw at it. The impressive line-up will be crowned by Škoda’s flagship model, the Superb.
The Roomster owes its remarkable versatility to the new VarioFlex seating system. The seats can be moved in various directions, folded down or even removed completely. The angle of the rear seat backs can be adjusted individually to strike the perfect balance between passenger space and luggage demands. When you need to carry things, the Roomster provides all the solutions: the new five-door Škoda offers up to 1780 litres of storage space – a record-breaking figure for a car that measures only 4205 millimetres in length.
Even in the entry-level models, the equipment levels are generous, and, thanks to a wide range of special options, including leather seats, sports packages, and wheels of up to 16", the Roomster can be personalised to suit the tastes and demands of every owner without losing its character.
The Roomster is offered with three petrol and three diesel engines. The range varies from the exceptionally economical 1.2 12V HTP/47 kW (64 bhp) three-cylinder petrol engine through to the powerful 1.9 TDI PD/77 kW (105 bhp). All engines are fitted with a manual five-speed transmission as standard. An automatic transmission will be available from September onwards.
In terms of safety, the Roomster has three-point seat belts on all seats as well as front and side airbags. All models are equipped with ABS and, depending on the market, ESP is also standard equipment. In addition, the Roomster fulfils all requirements in regard to pedestrian safety, specified in the regulations coming into force this year.