Advice desk: What wheelchair-accessible car should we buy?
Aidan Timmons and Motoring Editor Eddie Cunningham team up to help readers make the right choice with their next car. Aidan visits dealers all over the country to produce a monthly guidebook on the values of used cars. He is co-editor of Motor Trade Publishers, who supply a car-valuing service to the motor trade, insurance companies and finance houses. Eddie is author of former best-seller 'Clever Car Buying'
My wife is a wheelchair user and drives a Skoda Fabia (16,000km/year). We have a budget of €17k-€18k net of VAT/VRT. We need an automatic. The issue is driver space both in the cabin and door opening; the larger the better. We both like the Fabia but the Yaris gives more room. What else we should consider? I am able-bodied so I know it's not easy to visualise from a wheelchair-user perspective. To give you an understanding: imagine sitting on a dining chair beside the car with the door open. You have to slide across into the driver seat, then fold down the back of the dining chair onto the chair cushion and lift the chair across yourself onto the front passenger seat. The wheels come off the wheelchair.
Aidan: If you are considering the Yaris, make sure you look at the hybrid. Ignore the Aura model; go straight for a Luna version. If your wife drives the old model Fabia (anything pre-2015), she might be interested in the model that replaced it as it is noticeably roomier. Also, the automatic transmission in the Fabia is lovely. There is a brand-new Volkswagen Polo. I encourage you to test it out as it is nice to have the first of a new thing. The 1.0-litre TSi 95bhp automatic model is earmarked for a New Year release, if you are intending to buy a 181-plate.
Eddie: I've driven the Polo and it strikes me as the roomiest I've come across; the doors swing wide open too. It's the same size internally as the Mark 3 Golf. The Yaris is a definite contender as is the KIA Rio, which is often overlooked. At the upper end of roominess is the Honda Jazz automatic but it just might be a tinge outside your budget. Nissan's Micra is always a popular auto as well. It is a matter of trying each to see which suits your wife best.