When it comes to adapting cars to accommodate wheelchairs, picking the right model is your first step on the road to dramatically improving your quality of life.
Typically, you’ll be looking for size, durability and an easy drive. As established dealers in wheelchair-adapted cars, we’ve seen them come and go, and developed some strong opinions on which models are best for the job. Take a look at three of our all-time favourites…
Medium-sized panel vans like the Ford Transit Connect and Citan from Mercedes come with a lot of bells and whistles, but the Maxi variant of the VW caddy is nice and straightforward, just what you want when you’re converting it into a WAV.
The Caddy simply looks like a slightly larger car, rather than the ‘van’ vibe common to other disabled-use vehicles.
Inside, the iconic Volkswagen construction comes into play, and that means a sturdy feel which is just perfect for wheelchair users. The loading bay is particularly reassuring, with robust handles and hardy plastic fittings.
Any adaptations only add to this feeling of stability. Nothing wobbles, nothing rattles, it’s just a simple on-and-off process that puts nothing in the way of you getting behind the wheel. Speaking of which…
For a compact van, the Caddy delivers a remarkably even drive. A little engine noise at lower speeds is to be expected, but even that calms naturally as you hit your stride. If you opt for the middle of the road engine variant with 101bhp, you’ll go from 0-60 in about 12 seconds, which is all the go you need from something of this size, adapted for this purpose.
This might sound odd, but for a compact van, this variant on Peugeot’s Partner looks a lot like a van. It’s high, boxy styling lends a rough-and-ready approach to choosing a car to convert into a WAV. That being said, one look at the Tepee and you know that what it lacks in ballroom elegance, it makes up for with huge amounts of practicality and elbow room.
Inside, the attention paid to keeping the floor as flat and the roof as high as possible pays dividends for the disabled driver or passenger. There’s room in here to make any adaptation you might require, over 3,000 litres of space to be exact.
That sense of expansiveness doesn’t translate to more noise, either. Wonders have been done to make the interior feel cosy, which means by the time it’s been converted and you’re driving, the experience will be as down-to-earth as possible.
Peugeot have a strong reputation for safety, and this comes across in the drive on the Partner. It holds onto the road snugly, handles well and cuts down wind noise while you’re on the motorway. It’s not a speedy motor, which could be a problem for a van man making deliveries, but for a WAV performing its daily tasks, that’s simply not much of an issue.
In common with the Partner, the Expert Tepee is closer in appearance to a van than a car, with little being done to camouflage the enormous amounts of space you have to play with. Along those very same lines, this isn’t a disadvantage for a WAV in the same way as it would be if the vehicle were fulfilling another purpose. Big doors and a big boot means broad and easy scope for customisation.
The high roof and strikingly angular design on the Expert means plenty of window space. That saves the vehicle from getting gloomy, providing a light and airy ambiance to the interior. In common with all three cars on our list, the no-nonsense construction serves as a reliable, assured base for whatever adaptations might be required.
At speed, the Expert can suffer from weaker handling, but not noticeably more so than most vehicles of this size. Loaded up with adaptations, wheelchairs and passengers, this not only becomes less of an issue, but adds to the nice and easy ride that comes naturally when you’re in the vehicle’s comfort zone. Coupled with solid suspension and good fuel economy, this is a motor designed to effortlessly handle your everyday drive.
Here at Singlewell, we’re committed to matching people up with the ideal wheelchair access vehicles to match their unique circumstances. If this has got you thinking about the perfect vehicle to adapt, get in touch and come see our extensive stock of quality WAVs.
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