Would suit Two kids and a vasectomy
Maximum speed 107mph, 0-60mph in 12.4 seconds
Combined fuel economy 37mpg
Further information 0845 774 5745
My name is Michael Booth and I used to own a Renault Kangoo. Perhaps now I can achieve some closure and rebuild my life. I used to blame my wife for the fact that we had a shed on wheels in our drive, but the truth was the car was as much mine as hers and, deep down, I was rather fond of the thing. It might have looked like something the old Pope would have used to tour Latvia, but it wasn't half practical with its hose-down interior, Zeppelin hangar-sized boot and bouncy, all-terrain suspension.
Then again, back then we didn't have the option of buying a Skoda Roomster, which is everything the Kangoo isn't in terms of style, yet everything it is in terms of practicality. At last here is a cheap, practical shed you might actually aspire to own, as opposed to its rivals such as the Citroën Berlingo and Fiat Doblo, which you might aspire to grow tomatoes in.
It still has a whiff of Popemobile about it, but one more suited to the new Gucci shades-wearing pontiff. Certainly he wouldn't have to remove his mitre while sitting in the cavernous rear, and the view from those deliberately skew-whiff side windows - intended to clearly delineate the rear "living-room" from the front "cockpit" - is truly panoramic. The rear seats do all that Vauxhall Meriva-type folding, reclining and four-way sliding (to alter either leg or elbow room) and they are raised above the front seats so your passengers can see where you are going. Aside from the nagging fear that this is only going encourage backseat driving, the one major catch I can see is that there are only two proper seats in the back.
The Roomster's stiff suspension tightly controls body movement in corners and a wide track gives it a "planted" feel that encourages spirited driving. Though the 1.4-litre engine (from the Fabia), is a bit headachy-buzzy at speed, there's enough gumption to match most traffic. And I love the little details, such as the rubber straps across the door bins to keep big maps in place and the various hidey-holes throughout.
So is the Skoda Roomster the most desirable, sensible car of 2006? It could have been had Skoda managed to turn 2003's Roomster show car into a production reality. Unveiled in Frankfurt, that radical compact MPV was unlike anything we'd ever seen with its "wraparound" windscreen, flared arches and suicide rear doors. It was one of the rare occasions when a manufacturer attempted something truly radical with that most humdrum of vehicles: the all-purpose family van. Of course, it's not the first time a manufacturer has teased us with something beautiful and clever, only for the accountants to quietly slip tranquillisers in the designers' tea, but the taming of the Roomster was somehow more disappointing than all those other show-stand-to-showroom compromises which usually involved removing the flying capability from a Lamborghini, or deciding that Dilithium crystals aren't going to work in a Prius because they were made up by Gene Rodenberry.
The reality Roomster is still a blessing. As is the norm for modern Skodas, it is quite a bit more costly than its rivals - the one I borrowed was around £1,000 more than an equivalent Berlingo - but you will soon be able to buy a 1.2-litre version with electric windows and CD player for under £10k. From the driving seat of a Kangoo, that looks like the bargain of the decade.
It's a classic: Skoda S100
These days, Skodas are no longer the bargain-basement poverty vehicles they once were (in fact, they now tend to cost more than their competitors), but there was a time when the cheapest new car on the market was either a Skoda or a Lada.
The S100 was launched in 1967 but based on a model, the 1000MB, that was already four years old. That car has since been cited as the point at which the Skoda joke was born and, it's true, for the next three decades Skoda's were slow, funny-looking and apparently built by a reluctant chain gang.
The S100 had drum brakes, a swing axle, a top speed of 75mph and reached 60mph in 30.8 seconds. The 998cc, four-cylinder engine was designed to run on grubby, Eastern Bloc petrol, so it sounded like a bucket of bolts at idle and exploded when you revved it.
But it also had its advantages. No one has ever stolen an S100, some said that its rear-engined layout made it a kind of poor man's Porsche 911 and, of course, it gave us lots of good gags.Reuse content