Meet the new Room mate

Story by Azfar Hashim, pictures by M.H Sim
8 Apr 2008

The newest kid on the block comes in the form of Czech's Skoda Roomster. How will it fare in the lifestyle vehicle segment?

So what can set it apart?

The lifestyle vehicle segment is becoming a lucrative market to compete in. Locally, that segment is currently dominated by the Japanese as they’re competitively priced and packaged to the brim to make it as value-packed as possible.

It’s a whole different story for the Europeans though – due to the Euro’s exchange rate, pricing it competitively along the Japanese (and Koreans while at that) is an almost impossible feat. The premium price it has, unfortunately, put buyers off.

But the good thing about European cars is their build quality. Even entry-level cars like the Peugeot 107, are built to a high standard that can put some Japanese or Korean small sedan to shame. Not only that, their safety standards are way better, with rigidity and a host of safety gadgetry (airbags for example) to ensure that in case the inevitable ever happens, occupants are kept safe.

That alone justifies its premium asking price, and there are always buyers who recognise this fact, hence willing to pay the premium. This group of buyers now have another car to add into their shopping list – the Skoda Roomster.

You might be hard pressed, but the Skoda Roomster actually is competing with the Fiat Doblo Panorama, Mitsubishi Colt Plus and Suzuki SX-4. And you can’t deny the fact that the Roomster’s $69.8k price tag is hefty, compared to the Colt Plus ($60k) and SX-4 ($60k). At least the consolation is that it’s still somehow cheaper than the Doblo’s $70k asking price.

It’s a tough fight in this segment, as the appeal lies generally on badge and price. So how can the Skoda Roomster give a hard fight? And is the premium asking price justifiable? We found some traits of the Roomster that we reckon, will be its main selling point.


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