The foolish could easily dismiss the Roomster as just some novelty niche irrelevance that Skoda could do without. Foolish, because the Roomster represents a milestone in the rejuvenation of the Skoda brand, and is exactly the type of car Skoda needs to be making – cars that show practical needn’t mean boring, and cars that are much more than just watered down, re-badged VWs.

It is in fact a model for how platform sharing should work. Yes, there are the economies of scale of lower parts costs and component modularity (the chassis mixes original construction with parts from the Fabia and both new and old Octavia).

But this is combined with intelligent, consumer-focused design. Your preconceptions are most likely informed by the quirky exterior and similarity to MPV-from-a-van rivals from Citroën and Renault, but these are turned on their head by a surprisingly good drive, with genuinely practical design reinforcing this feel-good factor.

You realise that what you thought was either frivolous or functional is useful, enjoyable and desirable.

Top 5 Family hatchbacks

  • Seventh generation Volkswagen Golf
    More than 29 million Golfs have been sold since 1974

    Volkswagen Golf

    1
  • The popular Ford Focus in 1.5 TDCi Zetec form
    The standout component of the Ford Focus has always been its handling

    Ford Focus

    2
  • Seat Leon
    Seat offers five engines for the Leon, ranging from a 104bhp 1.2 petrol to a 181bhp 2.0 diesel

    Seat Leon

    3
  • Mazda 3
    The SkyActiv platform used in the 3 features more high and ultra-high-strength steel, offering greater strength and less weight

    Mazda 3

    4
  • Peugeot 308
    The 308 marks the first time a carry-over name has been applied to an all-new Peugeot

    Peugeot 308

    5

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

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    26 August 2016
    The Citroën Grand C4 Picasso gets tweaked styling, improved tech and new personalisation options to keep it ahead of rivals
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    Wolfsburg celebrates the GTI’s 40th with its most extreme version yet
  • Kia Optima Sportwagon
    First Drive
    25 August 2016
    New Kia estate looks the part, has good space and handles tidily, but its engine's flexibility and refinement let it down
  •  Kia Optima PHEV
    First Drive
    25 August 2016
    Plug-in hybrid Optima is a practical, tax-efficient PHEV that undercuts rivals and fulfils its main remit well, but keen drivers need not apply
  • Lamborghini Huracán LP610-4 Spyder
    First Drive
    24 August 2016
    Awful driving position aside, drop-top Huracán handles UK roads well. It's more dynamically rounded than its rangemates, but lacks rivals' handling bite